Kenneth G. Nieters
Midlothian, VA- Kenneth “Kenny” Gerard Nieters, 70, died peacefully on Wednesday, December 11, surrounded by family, after a 17-year battle with cancer.
Mr. Nieters was born on July 17, 1949, in St. Louis, MO, the youngest of six children. He graduated from Saint John’s High School in 1967 and enlisted in the Army, serving in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971. He earned a Bronze Star with Valor for his heroic actions in battle, working through a “furious barrage of mortar fire … with complete disregard for his own safety” to repair radar that would help identify the enemy’s position.
He received an honorable discharge in 1971, but not before meeting his future wife, Valerie, in Germany, where her father was also serving in the Army. They married in 1972 at Fort Devens in Ayer, MA.
Mr. Nieters took a position with New England Telephone, which would eventually become Verizon, beginning a 32-year career in the industry. He was well known for his ability to troubleshoot complex technical problems and, after the family moved to Vermont in 1978, also for his willingness to snowshoe to customers’ houses and to maneuver a rear-wheel drive utility van over a snowy mountain to and from work. He retired from Verizon in 2004.
After his retirement, because he never could sit still, Mr. Nieters worked for a time for Swan Electric Company, where he was known for his firm prohibition on taking new jobs after 2 pm. He could also be seen regularly after work washing his car in the driveway wearing his bright yellow boots. After a short tenure with Swan, he ceremoniously handed over his snow rake and moved with Val to Richmond, where he began yet another career, with Virginia Commonwealth University. He enjoyed the environment and his coworkers and fondly recalled it as his favorite job.
Mr. Nieters was a talented soccer player from childhood. He coached the first Wilmington (VT) High School girls’ varsity soccer team, and continued as coach there for 11 years. During his tenure, the team won two state championships. He also earned the highest coaching credential awarded by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. He was extremely proud of his coaching career and the athletes who played for him, many of whom kept in touch long after graduation. He was a lifelong athlete who also enjoyed softball, running, and biking. He ran the Nashville Rock and Roll Half Marathon for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and the Ukrops Monument Ave 10K with his daughter Dawn for the Massey Cancer Center, where he was a patient.
Mr. Nieters is survived by his wife of 47 years, Valerie; daughter Dawn and her partner Darren Bernard, of Nokesville; son Jared and his partner Tayler Clancy, of Warrenton; his brother Rich Nieters, of St. Louis, MO; his sister Donna Willer, of Pasco, WA; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by siblings Harry, Jim, and Ginny.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that memorial donations be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America or Disabled American Veterans. A celebration of life will take place in Vermont next summer during Old Home Week.