Former St. John Fire Chief Nicholas F. Thiery Jr. was driven by a deep desire for his family to succeed and for the residents of his community to be safe and secure.
“He worked extremely hard to see that his goals were achieved and many would agree that he was successful,” his daughter Eileen Snearly said.
Thiery, 100, grew up in Dyer, moving to St. John in 1938 and building a beautiful home in the woods where he and his wife of 70 years, Nellie, raised their four children.
A member of the St. John Volunteer Fire Department for 60 years, Thiery served as chief for 25 years.
“He was known throughout the community as the fire chief who was an artist, historian and skilled athlete,” Snearly said. “He could often be found in local restaurants sharing his knowledge of history and sketching portraits of many patrons.”
Thiery was tireless in his responsibilities as a father, a community leader and an employee of Cities Service Oil Co.
In 1966, Thiery was named the Outstanding Citizen of the Year for his service to St. John. An avid and skilled artist, Thiery honed his skills at the Chicago Art Institute. An outstanding athlete, one of Thiery’s most prized honors was his 1992 induction into the Lake Central High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Thiery could often be seen at Lake Central High sporting events offering tips to players and coaches alike.
Extremely interested in the history of both Dyer and St. John, Thiery contributed many hours to their historic societies, sorting through and identifying artifacts while lending his knowledge to their collections.
“His family and friends will always remember him for his dogged determination to make things right, be it history, arts or sports,” Snearly said. “He loved his family and praised each and every one of them for their accomplishments and their contributions to society.”