Charles S. Nankivell, Sr., 88
— A regular volunteer at the Montgomery Senior Center and Montgomery Food Pantry
— Charles “Charlie” S. Nankivell, Sr. died on Thursday September 3 surrounded by his family. He was 88.
Charlie was a devoted father, pop pop (grandfather), and friend. He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 54 years, Elizabeth Mary “Betty” Tighe, in 2012.
Charlie’s legacy and spirit live on through his loving family. He is survived by his children Lisa (Kent) Youngberg of Montgomery Township; Chuck Nankivell (Matt Hapeman) of Philadelphia, PA; and Celeste (Bob) Gross of Baltimore, MD. He is also survived by six grandchildren: Kristin, Matthew, Andrew, Amanda, Bobby, and Sammy; his sister Arlene (Dave) Belt; sister-in-law Mae Roberts; and many nieces and nephews.
Born and raised in Newark, Charlie was the son of the late Archie Nankivell and Celestine Cerato Nankivell, and brother of the late Dolores (Michael) Pierce.
Charlie was a high achieving student, and an incredible athlete. He focused on the sciences and played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track while in high school. After graduating from Barringer High School in 1950, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served with honor as a munitions expert with the 63rd Chemical Service Company and was stationed at the Bussac Chemical Depot in Bussac France.
While in the Army, Charlie also ran the base photo lab, played football, refereed basketball, and participated in track & field Events. He was a member of the European All Stars Football Team and a member and coach of the U.S. Army Track Team. At the Basec France Games in 1953, Charlie was the 1st place champion in three events: javelin, shot put, and discus.
Charlie was honorably discharged from the Army in 1955. He then moved to Bloomfield and joined the Bloomfield Police Department. He attended Rutgers University, where he pursued two loves: math and science, earning a B.A. degree in chemistry, and his future wife Betty, a Rutgers Veteran’s Advisor. They married in 1958.
He became a teacher at Bloomfield South Junior High School, where he taught math, science, and photography. Charlie received a master’s degree with honors from Montclair State University in 1961 and doctoral credits from Rutgers in New Brunswick, also with honors.
In 1975 Charlie became principal of South Junior High School and in 1987, when the middle schools merged, was named principal of Bloomfield Middle School. In 1994, after 36 years in the Bloomfield school district, he retired then was elected to the Bloomfield Board of Education where he served for six years including positions of vice president and president.
Using his knowledge of science and chemistry, Charlie also worked on an institutional review board for pharmaceuticals. Charlie and Betty moved to Pennington in 1999. He immediately got involved in the homeowners association and was a regular volunteer at the Montgomery Senior Center and Montgomery Food Pantry.
Charlie lived a great life and was an inspiration to all. He loved to spend time with his family and friends, was an avid photographer, fisherman and hunter, and could build or fix anything. He was a proud dad and grandfather. In recent years, nothing brought him more joy than to attend one of his grandchildren’s sporting events, dance recitals, music and theater performances, and school events and awards ceremonies. He always arrived early with his camera and smile no matter the time or the weather! Charlie also loved to cook and to experiment with new recipes for friends or family to try. The entire family looked forward to one of his delicious meals and, most importantly, to one of his home baked and specially decorated Pop Pop Cakes on their birthday!
Charlie was a man of high standards. He led by example, was a consummate professional, and an amazing role model. Throughout his life he was a dedicated and respected community volunteer. He was active in many civic organizations: a member of the board of directors of P.A.L.; chairman of the Municipal Youth Guidance Council; secretary and trustee of the Bloomfield Volunteer Emergency Squad; and chairman of Cub Scout Pack 14. He also volunteered his time and talents to Sacred Heart Church and School and the Bloomfield Cultural Center. He was a scout leader, a coach, sports league director, and more. Charlie had a soft spot for disadvantaged and learning-disabled youth and dedicated much time and energy to making a difference for these children.
Charlie had a positive impact on everyone he met and everything he did. He received numerous recognitions and awards for his volunteer work and community service in Bloomfield, Essex County, and Somerset County. He was named Bloomfield Citizen of the Year in 1979.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Montgomery EMS- Squad 47 Rescue - 8 Harlingen Rd, Belle Mead, NJ 08502. Due to the COVID pandemic, no services will be held until family and friends can gather safely to celebrate Charlie’s incredible life!