East Liverpool Review
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Gyla Stern Nicely, 101
EAST LIVERPOOL – Gyla Stern Nicely, 101, longtime East Liverpool educator and physical education enthusiast, passed away after a lingering illness at 9:55 a.m. Wednesday, April 18, 2012, at Crandall Medical Center in Sebring, OH. Mrs. Nicely had come to the East Liverpool area in the early 1940’s and had made this community her home, having resided on Parkway and on Armstrong Lane before moving to Sebring eleven years ago.
Born on June 14, 1910 in Beaver Falls, PA, she was the daughter of the late Rosa Cole and Harry Hays Stern, and would have turned 102 this year. Those who knew her best would say her longevity could be attributed to her unending quest for knowledge and in staying active and interested in the lives of others.
She graduated from Beaver Falls High School in 1928, where she had been a star basketball player before earning Bachelor of Science and Master’s degrees in education from the University of Pittsburgh. While still in college, she became a nationally rated basketball official and later was chairman of the Pittsburgh Board of national officials. She first taught physical education in the Avalon, PA, school district before teaching for twelve years in the undergraduate and graduate school of the University of Pittsburgh prior to moving to East Liverpool.
In 1956, Gyla became the physical education and health education instructor at East End Junior High School in East Liverpool, where she was also coach of both the volleyball and basketball teams, and also cheerleading advisor. Many of her summers were spent teaching in health workshops or serving as camp director on the Cheat River in West Virginia. While her husband, Norm, was serving with the Army in Germany, Gyla worked at a girls’ camp in Maine, and had served on the various physical education committee and boards. She retired from teaching in the East Liverpool school system in 1976. In honor of her many years of devotion to the school system, the East End baseball field was named for her.
Gyla was also heavily involved in the former Penn Avenue Methodist Church at one time, serving on the Pastor Relations Committee and Mission Board, and had taught the Welcome Class for many years. Upon moving to the Sebring area, she attended the Damascus Methodist Church. She was also a former member of the East Liverpool Board of Education, and belonged to Delta Kappa Gamma, an honorary teaching society. In her spare time, she loved to golf with her husband, and had at one time been the women’s champion at the East Liverpool Country Club. She and Norm also enjoyed the many summers they spent fishing in Canada and working in their flower garden together. Throughout her life, Gyla remained lively and energetic, and her enthusiasm was contagious to all who knew her.
Her husband, J. Norman Nicely, preceded her in death on January 24, 1999. They had been married since 1940.
Also preceding her in death were two sisters, Thelma Courtney and Meda Liebendorfer, as well as a brother, Russell Stern.
Surviving are her nieces, Donna Lee Cook, Mary Sullivan, Nancy Courtney and Jeannie Myers, in addition to a nephew, Nils Liebendorfer. Several great nieces and nephews survive, as well as dear friends, Jim and Joyce Laughlin.
Services will be held at the Dawson Funeral Home at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, where the family will be present to receive friends for one hour prior to the service. Rev. David Parry, Chaplain of Copeland Oaks, will officiate.
Gyla will be laid to rest beside her husband at Beaver Falls Cemetery in Beaver Falls, PA.
Those wishing to do so may make a contribution in Gyla’s name to Copeland Oaks Foundation, 800 South 15thStreet, Sebring, OH 44672 or Hospice of the Valley, 5190 Market Street, Youngstown, OH 44512.
View Gyla’s memorial webpage and send condolences online at http://www.dawsonfuneralhome.com
Contributed by Jackson Edward Wilson