Dalene Nickelson passed away on Tuesday, March 14th, surrounded by family and loved ones in her Ukiah home. She was 69 years old.
Dalene was born in Santa Rosa and spent her childhood in Sonoma County and Hawaii before graduating from Rancho Cotati High School in Rohnert Park in 1972. She moved to Ukiah in 1977 and was active in many parts of community life for the past 45 years. For much of the 1980s, she was a face of Our Bakery, owned and operated by her parents, Dale and Joan Nickelson, who both predeceased her. A young boomer at the time, Dalene made a welcoming impact for the Gen-X skaters of the day, long before the Coffee Critic made it a thing.
In 1994, Dalene first joined the staff at Mendocino College as a student worker in the library, while she worked toward her own associate degrees in Liberal Arts and Computer Science. She worked in the Admissions and Records Department and Maintenance and Operations where she supported daily operations, events, and major construction projects. Dalene put her creative hand wherever the Mendocino Community College at large could benefit, including the raising of over $40k in student scholarships, protecting local wildlife, and having dozens of feral cats spayed/neutered and adopted out. She was also an eager supporter of the college’s annual ceramics and plant sales.
After 22 years with the college, Dalene retired to devote her time to her hobbies and grandchildren, and boy did she. She was, in short, the Grandma of Grandmas.
Dalene, or “Big Ween” -as her daughters’ friends lovingly referred to her- was in essence, a nurturer and creator. She was a talented seamstress who made nearly every childhood Halloween costume for her daughters and grandchildren. She loved to cook and shared that love for many years with her great friends of Dinner Club; After learning the basics of cake decoration from her dad, she pushed herself further into the artform and made many memorable cakes for weddings, birthdays, and other special events; She also had a green thumb that brought her so many beautiful years as a plant lover and gardener. Her passion for Cirque Du Solei first took her to New York City in 2009 where she discovered and indulged in a love for Broadway musicals, returning several times to amass more playbills.
Dalene was a devoted and revered matriarch and is survived by a big, intensely loving family; her two daughters, Gilyan and Kalene (both her favorites!); her long time partner in love and adventure, Chris; brothers, Michael, Jerry and Brett; sisters-in-law, Lisa and Vicky; children-in-law; Ginger and Gonzalo; nephews and nieces, Abraham, Mathew, Jeremy, Miranda, Michael, Damien, Rachelle, and Jordan; several great nephews and nieces; and by the greatest joys of her life- her three grandchildren, Cypress, Wallace, and Vivi.
An annual scholarship is being set up in Dalene’s name for single parent, first time students of Mendocino college. Please consider donating to that here.