In Memory

Gregg Nicklas

Lincoln Journal Star, Saturday 5/31/2014: The head of Christian Heritage Homes was killed late Thursday in a hit-and-run crash near Wagon Train Lake. Gregg Nicklas, 62, apparently was walking his dog near his home at 19900 S. 96th St., just southwest of Wagon Train State Recreation Area, about 11:30 p.m. Thursday night, Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner said Friday morning. The dog went home without him, and his wife, Lisa Nicklas, got worried and went to look for him, Wagner said. She found him badly injured near the end of their driveway. Rescue workers tried to revive him, but he died at the scene. Investigators have few clues in the case, Wagner said. “We really need some help from the public," Wagner said. Anyone with information about what happened should call the sheriff's office at 402-441-6500 or Crimestoppers at 402-475-3600. Nicklas and his wife took in their first foster child in 1980 and within a year had taken in seven, according to the Christian Heritage website. Feeling he'd been called to care for abused and neglected children, he left a successful marketing career, and the first Christian Heritage home opened to eight teenage boys in 1981. A girls' home followed in 1985, and since then, the organization has provided homes for thousands of Nebraska children, the website says. Gregg and Lisa Nicklas were co-CEOs of the organization, with administrative offices just east of Lincoln at 148th and Old Cheney Road. The couple have five children.

“Great man. It’s a great loss,” said Jim Blue, president and CEO of Cedars Youth Services. Earlier this month, other foster care providers chose Nicklas to speak before the state’s Foster Care Reimbursement Rate Committee. Nicklas wasn’t an extrovert and hesitated, Blue said, but he thinks his friend felt honored. And he was in classic form before the meeting, Blue said. “He was the only provider shaking (committee members') hands before to make that connection and reaffirm the idea that we’re all in this for the same reason, which is for kids and families,” Blue said. “It’s people working with people that makes a difference.” Nicklas and Blue met 23 years ago through work and formed a friendship outside meeting rooms. “I’m going to really miss him,” Blue said. Nicklas’ funeral is set for 10:30 Thursday morning at Lincoln Berean Church, 6400 S. 70th St. Nicklas could turn the smallest accomplishment or the biggest milestone into a reason to feel joy with people, said Brad Brown, Christian Heritage’s program director. "Whether it was a large accomplishment or even something small, he liked to celebrate those, too,” Brown said. “Life was about celebrating.”