Opal Nickell

Obituary of Opal B. Nickell


                                                OPAL BREEDING NICKELL

On a cool fall day in a small mountain community called Redfox, Kentucky,  October 4, 1924, a baby girl was born.  She would be called Opal.  She was the third child of William Breeding and Arzella Combs Breeding.  Her older siblings were Cochel Breeding (deceased in 1995) and Cuba Breeding Hylton (deceased 2009).  Opal died peacefully in DeLand, Florida, on April 5, 2019.  She was 94 and half years old.

Opal’s father died when she was only 7 years old.  During this post-Depression time and the starting of World War II there were many hardships for a widow with three children to raise.  Her mother married a second time to James McIntosh.  Opal left the mountains of eastern Kentucky to work in Michigan to help out with the war effort.  She worked on B-17 bombers called The Flying Fortress.  Later, these women who worked on the war planes became known as Rosie the Riveters.  This work was a source of great pride for her all her life.  Opal learned resilience, hard work, and self-sufficiency which has carried her through many life’s challenges.

She returned to her eastern Kentucky home after WW II ended and met and married Alonzo Coleman Nickell of Combs (near Hazard in Perry County), Kentucky in 1946.  They raised seven children in the small community of Combs.  During the child rearing years she worked as a school cafeteria worker, a Book Mobile driver/librarian, and amateur hair stylist for the local ladies of the neighborhood.  She always had a flair for “doing” hair which her daughters, sons, and neighbors  were often the guinea pigs of her practice.   

After moving to Florida in 1973 she and her husband managed a Girl Scout Camp in Barberville for a few years.  She, also, worked as a school bus driver for the county.  She remained active in volunteering at the Deland  YMCA.  She loved to bowl, and she did so until she was in her nineties.  She enjoyed lawn bowling and alley bowling.  Alonzo (deceased in 1996) and Opal were married for 50 years.  She was active in her church Sunday School at Stetson Baptist in Deland.  She loved people and had a compassionate heart.  Family and friends will always remember her famous “Opal Cookies.”

Opal enjoyed traveling.  Her fondest memories were her travels to Hawaii, cruise trips to Alaska and to the Canadian Maritime Provinces.  Wherever she traveled she engaged with people in an open and accepting manner.


She is survived by son Bill Nickell (wife Margaret) of Dallas, GA; daughter Zella Jeanne Nickell Merrill (husband Alex) of Deland; daughter Rayma Karen Nickell Cochran (husband Dwaine) of Deland; daughter Ruth Evelyn Nickell Cortes (husband Art) of Port Orange; son Rodney Edison Nickell (wife Sherri) of Merritt Island; son Ruford (BO) Lee Nickell of Daytona Beach; son Robert Michael Nickell of Daytona Beach.

She is survived by 11 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren and 3 great, great, grandchildren.  She has many nieces and nephews in Ky. NC, Georgia,  and Michigan which she has great affection.

Funeral services will be held on Monday April 8, 2019 at 10:00 AM in the Stetson Baptist Church in DeLand, and followed by a committal service at DeLand Memorial Gardens.  The family will receive friends beginning at 9:00 AM.

In lieu of flowers you may make contribution in Opal’s memory to Halifax Health Hospice or a charity of your choice.