Sports Outside the Beltway

Joanne Nickells, wife of Harness racing trainer Bruce Nickells, dead at age 73

She was married for over 50 years to my late father’s horse racing stable partner.

The matron of the Nickells family, Kathyrn Joanne Nickells, of Lighthouse Point, Florida, passed away on Sunday, June 24, 2007, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Celebrating her birthday on June 13, she had just turned 73.

Mrs. Nickells had been in poor health for some time, but had attended the races at Hoosier Park on many evenings until just a few weeks ago.

She was the wife of noted filly conditioner Bruce Nickells for over 50 years. Nickells’ standout performers have included Miss Easy, p,3,1:51.1 ($1,777,656); Immortality, p,3,1:51 ($1,614,939); Follow My Star, p,4,T1:52.3 ($1,537,503); Park Avenue Kathy, 3,1:56.4 ($553,521); and Central Park West, p,2,1:53.3f ($534,863). His recent promising performer is Me And My Baby, p,2,1:53.1 ($207,336), who is currently competing at the Meadowlands.

In addition to Bruce, Mrs. Nickells is survived by two children. Assisting in the family stable, son Sep Nickells is a trainer-driver. Mrs. Nickells’ daughter, L. Brooke Nickells, runs the Nickells Stable, LLC, currently competing at the tracks in Indiana.

An owner in the Nickells Stable for many years, Mrs. Nickells campaigned horses like Cosmic Crunch, 7,1:54.4 ($287,809); Midnight Cowboy K, 5,1:57.2f ($92,650); Out Of Sight, p,3,1:52.2 ($200,142); and Padre Hanover, 5,1:54.4 ($169,987).

Mrs. Nickells was considered by many as the glue which held the Nickells Stable together. The stable currently includes a filly named in her honor, Kathyrn’s Secret.

She was an avid gardener and enjoyed antiquing. Serving as president of her garden club, the group often raised funds to benefit underprivileged children.

Note- That’s Joanne on the left. This old photo was ironically taken place at the Indiana State Fair in 1973. Indiana was where Joanne died, and where her daughter Brooke still races.

From age 10 till I was 15, I spent many weeks during the summertime traveling with my father as he pursued the race horses of BruBill stables in the mid-west. The horses usually racing at the tracks in the Chicago area, mostly Sportsmans Park, but also at Scioto Down outside of Columbus Ohio. Bruce Nickells, the Bru in Brubill, was an excellent trainer and adequate driver of harness horses. He was also friends with my father, so I spent many days at the Nickells apartment outside Chicago, at their Lighthouse Point home during the winter. My family coming to Florida on vacation for many years before moving to The Sunshine State in 1976.

I blogged about the Nickells family before in this post, mostly concerning Joanne’s daughter Brooke. My memories of Joanne Nickells are good ones, she was very kind to me and my brother George. Unfortunately my father and Bruce had a falling out in the late 70′s. Other than when Joanne came to my mother’s wake and funeral in 1985, I hadn’t seen her in thirty years.

My condolences to the Nickells family. RIP Joanne.

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