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491 Mamaroneck Ave.
White Plains, NY 10605
Phone: 914-949-7777
Fax: 914-949-8314
About An Amazing Life|Help

Don H. Nix

March 18, 1939 – July 14, 2017

Don Nix Don Nix
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"We are pleased to provide this Book of Memories to the family."
— McMahon, Lyon & Hartnett Funeral Home, Inc.

Obituary for Don H. Nix

Don Holmes Nix, known as Sluggie to his family and early friends, passed away on July 14, 2017, surrounded by family, after suffering from Alzheimer's and a major stroke. He was known for his humor, brilliance, creativity, iconoclasm and devotion to his family. He will be profoundly missed.

Sluggie was born on March 18, 1939 to Lois and Don Nix in Tulsa, Oklahoma where his father was a prominent real estate developer. He graduated from Tulsa Central High School in 1957 and received a B.S. in Mathematics from Southern Methodist University in 1962. He continued to pursue his lifelong love of knowledge and education, obtaining an M.S. in Educational Psychology from the University of Washington in 1974, followed by a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology in Learning and Instruction from Columbia University in 1978. He belonged to a number of professional organizations and was a former member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sluggie married Susie Carpenter in 1963 in Tulsa and moved to Seattle, Washington, where they lived for 8 years. In Seattle, they developed an everlasting affection for the Pacific North West and dear friends. In 1974, they excitedly welcomed their first child, Sarah, into their family. They soon relocated to New York, after Sluggie was offered a prestigious position at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center (driving across country with 3-week-old Sarah and their beloved black Chow, Bundle). In 1977, they happily added a second child, Jenny, to their family.

A self-proclaimed kid at heart, Sluggie naturally bonded with his children and filled their youth with imagination and creativity. He created elaborate characters and lands, built a dollhouse from scratch (fully equipped with electricity and elevators), wrote lunch bag miniseries and devilishly "got the kids going." Through all ups and downs of life, he made it abundantly clear to his daughters that he loved them unconditionally and thoroughly respected them as individuals. Years later, he was thrilled to welcome grandchildren; he doted on them as he had his daughters and entertained them with numerous silly antics.

Sluggie's affinity and commitment to children also became the focus of his professional life. While working for IBM for 30 years, he headed an educational research group at Watson that created multiple computer languages and a unique early reading system using speech recognition technology, in addition to developing a computer prototype for classroom applications.

One of his most gratifying professional experiences was starting an experimental classroom at P.S. 92 in Central Harlem, where for 10 years he created and taught innovative classes for elementary-aged students that focused on critical thinking, video production, and reading comprehension, using the computer languages and programs he had designed. He also loved his travels across country, collecting children's voices, to expand the capability of the speech recognition technology to accommodate a multiplicity of children's accents. After retiring from IBM in 1999, Sluggie moved to Philadelphia and worked at the Woodstock Family Center, a homeless shelter for mothers and children.

Sluggie lived a large and complex life, full of love, humor, intellectual pursuits, and existential angst. He devoured philosophy and knowledge, read and reread his collection of thousands of books, and wrote musings and short stories. He questioned everything and everyone, delightfully debated both the trivial and profound, and found ridiculously silly or sardonic humor in almost everything. He enjoyed spending time with his daughters and grandchildren, having long chats with his brother, Steve, and nostalgically reflecting on the past with his cousin, Paula, and brother, Jeff. He appreciated the simple pleasures of listening to traditional country music, drinking coke and iced tea, pouring copious amounts of salt onto anything edible, and eating Oreo cookies (from the inside out).

Sluggie is survived by his two daughters, Sarah Nix in Hastings, New York and Jenny Nix in Brooklyn, New York; their mother, Susan Talbot Nix, in Sleepy Hollow, New York; his son-in-law, Todd Kimmel and two grandchildren, Evelyn and Simon Nix-Kimmel, in Brooklyn; his younger brothers, Steve and Jeff Nix, and sister-in-law Janet Pearson in Oklahoma; his cousin, Paula Erickson, in Denver, Colorado; and his niece Kitsy Wyrick (Todd), his nephew Tucker Nix (Jamie) and their mother Lucy Weberling in Oklahoma.

A private memorial will be held in New York City in the Fall. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Resources for Human Development (https://www.rhd.org/) - to either their Woodstock Family Center program or Animal Rescue Network program.