Nikolai C. Nikov (Chlebnikovs) died Thursday, April 5, 2012, at Seasons of Life Hospice in Woodruff, following a two-year battle with liver cancer.
He was born Feb. 22, 1943, in Saldus, Latvia, son of the late Lev Chlebnikovs and the late Nina Chlebnikovs Wilder (Stefanovich).
Nik was also preceded in death by step-father Edward A. Wilder and step-brother Edward Wilder.
Nik is survived by two sons, Charles Losby (Sarah) of Richfield, Minn., and Brendan Notestein (Nora) of Milwaukee; mother of his beloved boys, Mimi Notestein of Milwaukee; his former wife, Baiba Blats Hartman of Milwaukee; dear friend, Rita Novak of Racine and "crazy cousin" Mara Bekmanis of Ixonia; Nik also leaves behind his loving and loyal sister, Irene Messinger (Richard) of Lac du Flambeau; step-sister Teryle Newell (Warren) of Westminster, Colo., and step-brother, Steven Wilder (Maryann Olson) of Clemmons, N.C.
He will be missed by his 13 nieces and nephews and 22 great-nieces and nephews. Three special great-nieces, Claire, Olivia and Ava, became very close to their Uncle Nik during his cancer battle and visited him in person, by phone and letter during the past two years. They miss him terribly. His beloved border collie, Carly, looks for him and sits by the car, waiting to ride to hospice for their regular visits.
Nik, his sister, Irene and mother, Nina came to America on July 12, 1950, as war refugees from Germany, originally from Latvia. The refugee years from 1944 to 1950 in Germany were very hard on the little family and Nina referred to them as the "Three Musketeers," the three of them against the world as father Lev was missing in action in Siberia. The family survived through the ingenuity of their mother. Nina carried a suitcase full of medicines and drugs. As a pharmacist she was able to offer medical care to the people of Germany in exchange for food and shelter. When the war ended, the family lived in refugee camps where Nina worked in the camp pharmacy and the children attended school.
After arriving in America the family settled in Milwaukee, worked hard, learned the English language and became proud Americans. Nik met his best friend, Russ Griswold, who helped him learn English. Their friendship was lifelong.
In 1965, Nina met and married Edward Wilder and the family grew immediately to include three more children and two spouses.
Nik lived mostly in Racine. He managed the Mosquito Bar, played guitar and sang to entertain the patrons. He had a beautiful singing voice and long slender fingers for playing the guitar. In 2001, he moved to Woodruff to be closer to his mother and sister, Irene. His health began to fail and the cancer diagnosis came in early 2010. He fought a valiant battle, finally succumbing to the disease at Seasons of Life Hospice. The loving care he received there will never be forgotten. The staff members and volunteers were wonderful and made Nik's last days comfortable and peaceful. Mere words cannot express the family's gratitude.
Cremation has taken place and a memorial service will be held at a later date. Bolger Funeral and Cremation Services of Minocqua and Woodruff handled the arrangements.