Vernon Lewis Nickell was the son of Ida Mae Lewis and Elias Dolison Nickell. He grew up in rural McLean and Piatt Counties. He graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University, and earned his masters degree from the University of Illinois. He married Leta Nafziger, and they had two daughters, Geraldine (Gerry) and Maxine (Penny).
Vernon was tall for his era (6'5"), and began his career as a high school teacher and basketball coach in Monticello, Piatt, IL, WSW of Champaign. Vernon later served as Superintendent of Schools for the Champaign-Urbana School District.
In 1943, Vernon was elected to the position of Illinois Superintendent of Public Instruction (Republican). He was elected to that statewide position for four terms, leading Illinois education from 1943 to 1959. Vernon was a strong believer in the "Home Rule" concept in education. Details of Vernon's Political Campaigns
During his years as Superintendent of Public Instruction, Vernon also served on the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. He remained very active in Illinois Republican campaigns and causes. Vernon was also awarded the honorary degree of 33rd Degree Mason. Vernon L. Nickell Papers at the University of Illinois Archives
Vernon lived his retirement years in Springfield, IL. He passed in Springfield at age 78 on August 15, 1969. Vernon is buried with his wife Leta, at Mount Hope Cemetery in Urbana, IL in a Nickell Family Plot.
Thus endeth the record of a just and upright Mason.
Leta O. Nafziger Nickell
1891–1961 (m. 1913)
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