Obituary: William Henry Nigh
William Henry Nigh, a longtime Montclair resident, died peacefully at home with his wife by his side on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, after being diagnosed with metastasized prostate cancer almost seven years ago. He was 71.
Mr. Nigh was born in Trenton in 1949 and enjoyed a what now seems carefree childhood with his loving and hardworking family. He attended Rutgers University, graduating with a bachelor’s in history, the year before the school allowed women to enroll. He was a member of Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji), where he formed lifelong bonds.
He ran a hoagie shop in Trenton, was a GM foreman, and was a Vista volunteer in Arizona. He spent some months living in Mexico before joining the Army, which gave him the chance to live in Germany for four years. He stayed in Frankfurt another two years as a civilian and earned his master’s in international relations from the University of Southern California via early remote learning. Returning to the states in the early 1980s, he found his way into computer programming.
In 1984 he met Beth, and their lifelong love affair began. They moved to Montclair in 1986 and couldn’t have found a better place to call home. Mr. Nigh’s technical skills, liberal arts education, ability to learn quickly and charming personality afforded him the luxury of a variety of gigs, some with long-term employee status, some as an independent contractor often working from home.
He hit his stride when he was teaching other techies and began technical writing and documentation. There his love of language could shine, and he helped others by showing them how to more elegantly navigate software.
But work was just part of Mr. Nigh’s life. Within weeks of meeting, he and Beth talked about a trip to the Bavarian Alps, which came to fruition and began their adventures in many European countries as well as Scotland, Canada, Hawaii and the lower 48.
He and Beth had decades of time spent together outside, hiking around Mother Earth’s natural beauty as well as towns and cities of all kinds. They seldom passed up museums, restaurants (Mr. Nigh loved food!), roadside attractions, factory tours or whatever else they chanced upon.
He had an easy smile and a kind heart; he was humble and generous. His quiet sincerity was counterbalanced by his sharp wit, love of wordplay and all kinds of high jinks. He was devoted to his family and specialized in riling up young nieces and nephews, then darting off to leave them with their parents. As he liked to say, “My humor has no tumor.”
Mr. Nigh’s breadth of knowledge and his ability to absorb and share new information and insights was remarkable. He had a large and loyal Twitter following that brought him joy and pride. Social media and texting afforded him the ability to stay in contact with many friends, even more so as his cancer progressed. His sense of humor, acceptance and gratitude stayed with him to the end.
He is survived by his wife, Beth; siblings Linda (Ed), Carol (Jim) and Gary (Michael); nephews and nieces Jeff, Josh, Kristin, Dan, Adam, David, Cielo, Katy, Charles, Molly and Shaun, and a plethora of loving and saddened friends.
Mr. Nigh was predeceased by his parents, Carl and Emily Nigh.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made in his memory to RWJ Barnabas Health Hospice (vnahg.org/support-hospice) or to Caringbridge.org, where he and Beth faithfully documented the past seven years for friends and family.