Later today I will have the honor of preaching a homily at the funeral for Ab NIcholas, a dear friend and mentor of mine. Ab died peacefully, but unexpectedly, in his sleep last week at the age of 85. Ab and his wife Nancy are the primary benefactors of the foundation that has made possible the creation of the Living Compass Wellness Initiative. Those of us who are a part of Living Compass are most grateful to be able to carry on Ab’s legacy, which has always involved a strong commitment to helping others. Ab’s obituary was featured on the front page of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this past Sunday. You can read it here. http://www.jsonline.com/story/money/2016/08/04/albert-o-ab-nicholas-dies/88273344/
Ab grew up in Rockford, IL with two loving parents whose influence on him was profound. He talked about his parents on a regular basis and never forgot the sacrifices they made for he and his two brothers. After hours of practicing at his local Boys and Girls Club and then playing in high school he earned a basketball scholarship to the University of Wisconsin. He played on the school’s team from 1948-1951, winning first all Big Ten team honors in his junior and senior years, and second team All-American is senior year.
A few years later Ab started the Nicholas Company in 1967 with the launching of the Nicholas Fund, which is now a part of a family of six Nicholas mutual funds. Starting with very little, the Nicholas Funds have grown in value to over five billion dollars under management. Ab continued to co-manage this fund with his son David until the day he passed away.
With this professional success Ab, here in his beloved Wisconsin, became a very well known public person,something that always amazed him and he never could quite comprehend. ashat truly defined Ab though was his private life, his commitment to his faith and to his family. He and his wife Nancy were married for 63 years and he would have said that together their three children and seven grandchildren were the most meaningful and important investments they ever made.
Ab was a lifetime member of the Episcopal Church and his Christian faith was the center of his life. He never missed church on Sundays, and regularly attended weekday services, too.
He always credited his faith with keeping him humble and grounded, and keeping him oriented toward what was most important in life, living an honorable and generous life.
I will never forget the conversations Ab and I would have about faith and wellness and how closely the principles that undergird them are the same as those that apply to the world of investing. When Living Compass was first being developed, Ab wanted to understand all of the concepts that are taught in the materials. I explained that one essential aspect of wellness was having a sense of balance by nurturing and tending to all areas of wellness, including spiritual, physical, emotional, relational, and vocational wellness.
I’ll never forget how excited he was when he heard all this because, as he went on to explain, a commitment to balance is also one of the keys to good investing. He explained that it is essential to have a balanced portfolio and not ever be overly invested in any one stock, or one in sector of the economy. He went on to say that it was important to review a portfolio balance on a regular basis because things change and it is important to adapt as needed. A balanced approach to both investing and to wellness is important we agreed.
Ab had one of the most balanced portfolios of any person I know,and by that I not only referring to his financial investments , but to his life investments as well. His balanced life portfolio can be seen in the strong investments he made to his marriage, children, and grandchildren, to his physical well-being, his spiritual well-being , and in his commitment to generosity to many places within the wider community.
In honor of Ab, I invite each of usl to reflect on our life investments, and to examine how balanced our portfolios are. With Ab’s passing have been doing that myself this week, and I have come to realize, for example, that I want to invest more time and energy to my community and neighborhood. I need to invest in that area of my wellness portfolio, and in Ab’s honor I am committing to make that happen. What about you? What area of wellness could benefit from your investing a little more time and energy?
I close with my expression of gratitude for the ways in which Ab Nicholas has invested in the work of Living Compass. May we continue to honor his gift in all that we do each and every day, for many years to come. Thank you Ab for your generosity and your example, but thank you most of all for your friendship.