Elizabeth “Betty” Joyce Nicolai

Feb 17, 2023

Elizabeth “Betty” Joyce Nicolai, 95, of Milford, Iowa, passed away on Friday, February 17, 2023, at Accura Healthcare of Milford.

A memorial mass will be held at 10:30am, Monday, February 27, 2023, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Spirit Lake, Iowa. A visitation will take place one hour prior to the service at the church with a rosary to be recited, at 9:15am, on Monday, at the church by the Catholic Daughters. Burial will be held in the St. Andrew’s Cemetery in Sibley, IA. Arrangements are under the direction of Robinson Funeral Home in Spirit Lake. Online condolences may be left at www.spiritlakefuneralhome.com. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Spirit Lake, Iowa. 

Betty was born April 17, 1927, in Sioux City, Iowa, the daughter of Gene and Margaret (Shafer) Murphy. Proceeding the death of her parents, Betty and her sister Patricia were raised by their grandparents, James and Mary Murphy and aunts Anna and Julia Murphy in Sheldon, IA. Betty graduated from Sheldon High School in 1945.

On May 17, 1952, Betty married Lawrence “Nick” Nicolai at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Sheldon. They settled in Sibley, Iowa, where they raised their four sons. Betty was a homemaker and worked part-time in the family insurance business. Following Nick’s retirement in 1981, they moved to Lake Okoboji, where Betty worked in the gift shop at The New Inn for 17 years. Nick passed away in 1997, after 45 years of marriage.

Betty was an active member of St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Sibley and St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Spirit Lake. She spent many years singing in the church choir and volunteering with the Catholic Daughters. Betty was a lifelong artist who enjoyed painting, drawing and sewing. Most notably, she co-designed the Lake Okoboji Game. Betty was very proud of her Irish heritage and along with her sister Pattie, traveled to the Emerald Isle. Not surprising for an Irish lass, her potato salad was legendary. 

Betty is survived by her four sons: Michael Nicolai of Ovid, CO; Mark (Lynn) Nicolai of Sioux Falls, SD; Dave Nicolai of Spirit Lake, IA; and Gene (Anna) Nicolai of Des Moines, IA. And her five grandchildren: Brad Nicolai (Chelsea Eddy), Sam Nicolai (Brenda Poppens), Zach Nicolai, Alyssa Nicolai and Emilie Nicolai (Beau Mueller). Betty was preceded in death by her parents, husband and her sister, Pattie Winchell. 

The family would like to extend their deepest gratitude to the staff of Accura Healthcare that cared for Betty.