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Obituary: Nicholas H. Thisse, 87, Martinsburg

 

Published: March 19, 2024

By: Provided by Sundquist Funeral Home

 

Nicholas Henry Thisse

 

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Description automatically generatedMARTINSBURG - Nicholas Henry Thisse, 87, of Dover, Massachusetts, passed away peacefully on March 14, 2024 surrounded by his family, after a two-month battle with cholangiocarcinoma, a rare and aggressive cancer.

 

Nick was born in Lowville, NY, on June 16, 1936, the first child of Gilbert and Doris (Bush) Thisse. He was the oldest of 10, and so from a young age he always had responsibilities helping with the family. Growing up in Martinsburg in Lewis county he wanted to be a dairy farmer, and in school he was a member of the Future Farmers of America. He owned a bull which he named Alexander Ormsby Walker Model Design. He later traded the bull, along with $5, for his first car, a 2-door Plymouth coupe, which he described as a “doodlebug”. He was an avid outdoorsman and hunter, and loved to spend time in the woods, getting his first buck at age 16. He had a tremendous love of nature, and he learned the law

of the woods from his dad who was a conservation officer, spending countless days in the woods of Tug Hill and the Adirondacks. He was the youngest member of the Mount Tom hunting Club in Balsam Flats. He fought to preserve property rights and was an active member of the Adirondack Landowner’s Association. He traveled many times up to Quebec to go deer hunting on Anticosti Island with his family members. The best times of his life, from the time he could walk until months before his passing, were in the woods with his family and friends.

 

He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at the age of 18, serving from 1954-57’ as an 0311 infantry rifleman, stationed in Okinawa, Japan after the Korean War. He was amused that whenever he would tell people he was from New York, they all thought he was from the big city, which could not be further from the truth.

 

After the service, he got a job as a tube handler at the General Electric factory in Syracuse, NY. He had a life-changing event when he crashed his car into a ravine at age 21, which nearly took his life. That same year, while working in his grandfather’s store, he met the love of his life, Marion Lois Argentero, a “city girl” from New Jersey, (“and she had a shiny blue ’52 chevy, robin’s egg blue”). They were married on August 13, 1960. They moved to Phoenix, N.Y., where he attended Oswego State University under the GI Bill and was planning to become a high school shop teacher. In the summer, he worked on road crews building highways. They moved to Boston where he continued his education at Boston University, earning his Master’s degree in psychology and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in

Rehabilitation Counseling.

 

He worked doing outreach work in disadvantaged neighborhoods in Boston and as a mental health counselor at Boston State Hospital and Medfield State Hospital. He helped to develop a ground-breaking program called P.R.O.P., the Patients’ Rehabilitation Occupational Program, enabling mental health patients to move out of institutions and into the community.

 

In 1966, at the age of 30, Nick founded Rehabilitation Associates, Inc., with a mission of educating nursing home staff on how to deal with mental health issues. Soon thereafter, with 2 partners, he bought a 27-bed nursing home in Bradford, Massachusetts. He was in the original class of Licensed Nursing Home Administrators, taking the test with his peers in 1970. He began acquiring small nursing homes one by one over the course of the next two decades. This culminated with 14 facilities by the early 1990’s. He was very active in the American College of Nursing Home Administrators and the Massachusetts Federation of Nursing Homes. While most nursing facilities had become larger and more institutional, Nick kept his homes small, always believing in personalized care.

 

He always made a point to get to know every employee, and always jumped in to help with any task. There was no job beneath him, and every person in his organization was valued for their contributions. He was very well known and loved by his staff, and well respected by his peers and colleagues in the healthcare provider community as well as state regulators.

 

Nick loved to fly and always dreamed of becoming a pilot. In 1976 he made that dream a reality. He got his pilots license and bought a little amphibious plane. He was so proud and brought many of his extended family on their first-ever plane rides. At family gatherings at Enakee, his little home in the wilderness, people would take turns going for spins with Uncle Nick.

 

While he was successful in business, and he was always pouring his efforts into his business, Nick’s most important thing in life was his family. Nick and Marion loved to travel, taking his parents and in-laws with them to places near and far. These adventures were not always without mishaps. On one trip Nick’s mother fell and fractured her hip at the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone Park, requiring weeks of rehab in an Idaho hospital. Another time, in 1994, Nick and Marion were nearly killed in the mountains of Tennessee in a head-on collision, but their seatbelts saved their lives. In 1999 on the way to a moose hunt in the Yukon, they ran out of gas and had to walk several miles in a very active grizzly bear zone.

 

They went overseas to many places, including Brazil, China, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. They went to Lourdes and Fatima. Every February for Marion’s birthday, they embarked on an annual sojourn to the island of Grenada, where they made many friends over 40 years. One year, while lost exploring Grenada in a jeep, they befriended a couple in the rural mountains. They would return and visit every year for decades, to catch up and chat, always bringing small useful gifts like reading glasses and flashlights and the like.

 

As a child Nick was fascinated with Africa. In 2003, he and Marion made their first trip to South Africa and over the following 12 years traveled to 6 different African countries taking their children and grandchildren on many of these trips. During these trips he would visit local villages and see what he could help with. He donated windows to local schools for shelter, he helped fund new wells for drinking water and donated meat to the villages. He became a lifetime member of Safari Club International. Each of his grandchildren learned first-hand about the economies of the third world. He taught them how wildlife conservation through regulated hunting in Africa is critical to the survival of species, while sustaining economies where no other economic activity exists. In 2010 Nick and Marion celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on the peak of a mountain in Zimbabwe.

 

He was a religious man of very strong faith. He was always thankful to God and always humble. He was very generous with his success on this earth. He followed the direction of Jesus Christ, quietly and discreetly helping countless people and charities, and in almsgiving, “not letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing”. He instilled the values of Jesus in his family. “Every person has positives and negatives”, he would say, “always try to focus on the positives, and minimize the negatives… “

 

In addition to his parents Gil and Doris, Nick was predeceased by his brothers Michael and Patrick (Susie) and sister Suzanne Stoffle (George). He is survived by his beloved wife Marion of 63 years and their children Peter (Renee), Gilbert (Jerilynn), Denise, and Phillip (Tara), and 15 grandchildren Nicholas II (May), Krissana Wallace (Tim), Alyssa, Francis, Tyler, Derek, Lucille, Neil, Spencer, Gregory, James, Adyline, Maya, Avery, and Benjamin; two great-grand children, Emma Wallace and Nicholas III; his surviving siblings Timothy (Jill), Kathleen Stevens, Terrence (Minette), Yvonne Knataitis (Don), Jerome (Constance) and Jonathan (Lynn); two uncles Henry Thisse and Cyril Thisse, and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

 

He said in the days before his passing:

 

“Love one another”

 

“Always help others. When someone is in need always help them out”

 

“When people die they don’t go away. They stay around with you. Always remember that…”

 

All in all he was a giving soul who followed his faith and beliefs. One of the most intelligent men to have

graced the planet.

 

He will be sorely missed. His life and good deeds will be forever cherished. May he rest in peace knowing

he has truly made a difference.

 

Calling hours for family and friends will be on Friday, March 22nd from 4 to 7:00pm at the Sundquist Funeral Home.

 

A Mass will be said on Saturday, March 23rd at 11:00am at St. Peter’s Catholic Church with Rev. Severinus Torwoe, Parochial Vicar officiating. Military burial will follow in Martinsburg Cemetery.

 

Visiting hours will be Wednesday March 20th from 4-8 at the Roberts Mitchell Caruso Funeral Home, 15 Miller Street, Medfield, MA 02052  or visit:   https://memorials.robertsmitchellcaruso.com/nicholas-thisse/5396359/index.php

 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:

 

Martinsburg Volunteer Fire Department

5609 Whitaker Road Martinsburg, NY 13404

 

On-Line condolence of sympathy may be made to: www.sundquistfh.com

 

 

 

 

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