Jean A. Nickels grew up in Ramsey, New Jersey and attended Ramsey High School. She proudly served in the United States Women’s Army Corps (WAC) during World War II and Korea.
The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was created on May 14, 1942 for the purpose “of making available to the national defense the knowledge, skill, and special training of women of the United States.” The WAAC adopted Pallas Athene, the Greek goddess of victory and womanly virtue in peace and in the arts of war as its symbol. Due to the WAAC’s initial success, it was converted to active duty status on July 1, 1943 and renamed the United States Women’s Army Corps.
Most WAC servicewomen were trained in three major specialities. Those who scored highest on the aptitude test were trained as switchboard operators. The remaining servicewomen either worked as mechanics or bakers. By the Korean war, specialities included postal clerk, driver, stenographer, and clerk-typist.
During Mrs. Nickels military career, she worked as a switchboard operator. After serving her country, Mrs. Nickels returned home to Bergen County and pursued her bachelor’s degree at Columbia University. Following her graduation, she was employed by Avon Cosmetics in Suffern, New York. Throughout her career at Avon, she serviced the company’s internal computer systems.
It was during her time at Avon that Mrs. Nickels met her future husband, Rene Nickels. Together they settled in Mahwah, New Jersey and adopted their two sons, Paul and Luke Nickels. Outside of work, Mrs. Nickels was dedicated to her family.
Later in life, they would start a company in Glen Rock, New Jersey called Nickels Industrial Lubrications Inc. The company provided services to companies that needed maintenance on their vehicle and equipment.
Like so many other veterans, Mrs. Nickels just did her job and gave it the best effort that she knew how. She did not realize that because of her attitude, commitment, and dedication that she would be paving the way from woman to continue to serve in the military. She truly was a pioneer.
She passed away in 1999 but is survived by her son, Paul Nickels. We honor her memory.
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The Division of Veterans Services was established in 1977 to provide resident veterans and their dependents with information and assistance in obtaining earned entitlements from federal, state, and local governments, as well as any that are available from the private sector.
Through a quarterly newsletter and direct client contact, the division provides Bergen’s veterans organizations and their auxiliaries and individual residents with up-to-date benefit information.