Vonne Nicklaus (1940-2013)
Vonne Nicklaus, 73, passed away Sunday, December 8, 2013 in the comfort of his home. He was born in Hutchison, Kansas on August 3, 1940. After graduating from Kansas State University with a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering he attended O.C.S. He served 4 years in the U.S. Navy during which time he was the Resident Officer in Charge of Construction (ROICC) while on his tour in Vietnam. Aside from being a devoted, loving, husband and father; Vonne was also very career-minded.
As he returned to Yuma, he was a Construction Project Manager for 11 years before founding Nicklaus Engineering in 1977. His company has been involved in a multitude of civil engineering projects in Yuma and built a reputation unsurpassed. Vonne's generosity and willingness to give back to the community include: Chairman of the City of Yuma Building Advisory Board, Greater Yuma Economic Development Board, Salvation Army Advisory Board, Yuma Rotary International Board, Northern Arizona University College of Engineering Advisory Board, Caballeros de Yuma, NAU/AWC Civil Engineering Advisory Board.
Vonne was also involved with the following boards: Yuma Regional Medical Center Operating Board, Past President of the Arizona Society of Professional Engineers, Member of Arizona Society of Professional Engineers, Past Chairman of the Yuma Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors Yuma Chamber of Commerce. Vonne served in the Salvation Army Advisory Board and volunteered his time by cooking, cleaning, and serving meals. Not only did he volunteer his time, he inspired his staff to volunteer their time in serving lines and ringing bells during the holidays.
Vonne was also involved in the Yuma Rotary Club. The Rotary club motto is "service above self" and Vonne was a great example of this. He hosted three exchange students through the Rotary Club and partially donated his services for the design of the Winsor Rotary and Friendship Park. Vonne strongly believed in education and was instrumental in bringing NAU to the AWC campus and to Yuma in 1978. Vonne served on the Civil Engineering Advisory Board and due to his involvement, there are now greater educational opportunities for the citizens of Yuma. He supported his employees in their education and served as a mentor for the Mentor Program at Cibola High School.
Vonne was also involved in the annual AWC Career Exploration Fair to promote engineering as a career option. Vonne also contributed his services to the Habitat for Humanity; he designed "The Village", a 20 lot subdivision for single family homes. This was the first subdivision project for Habitat for Humanity. This experience proved to be cost effective and prompted them to continue to build subdivisions as a means of obtaining the lots needed to build homes for families in need. Vonne was assisting Catholic Community Services in locating a new "Safe House" on three lots at "The Village" subdivision. He has created leaders and people who also feel they need to make a difference. This is why the level of his concern for human welfare cannot be measured.
Vonne has poured his heart and soul into this community. Without Vonne, there would be no Dahl, Robins & Associates, Edais Engineering, Geotechnical Testing Services, Core Engineering, or Guiterrez-Canales Engineering. He taught these engineers the valuable lessons that still hold true today. Vonne made Yuma a city and made it a city he proudly called home.
Vonne is survived by his wife of 38 years, Karen; son, Kirk; daughter, Kristy (Ricci) Arviso; stepson, Donny Tunnell; sisters, Nathalie Lee and Beth Donahue; 4 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild, and several nieces and nephews.
Services will be held at First United Methodist Church, 298 W. 3rd Street, Yuma on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. Reception will follow at Yuma Elks Lodge. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hospice of Yuma or a charity of your choice.