Richard James “Dick” Niss
Passed away on August 1, 2019 in North Oaks, Minnesota with his family at his side. Dick was born on December 25, 1926 in Fairmont Minnesota to Albert and Matilda “Telo” (Wallace) Niss. He graduated from Fairmont High School in 1944 before enlisting in the Navy where he served aboard an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific during World War II. In 1947 Dick and his brother Wally began building Timber Bay Lodge on Birch Lake outside of Babbitt, Minnesota. In later years they added a number of houseboats to the resort, which they owned and operated until selling it in 1980. He married the love of his life, Patricia “Pat” Newville on August 26,1950 in Fairmont. They spent their summers working at Timber Bay and the school year months in Mankato, Minnesota where he attended Mankato State Teachers College, graduating in 1955 and then teaching at Loyola Catholic High School. They moved to Babbitt, Minnesota in 1959 when he was hired as one of the original teachers at the new Babbitt High School where he taught mathematics, coached swimming, and later became the business manager before retiring in 1989. He was deeply honored when in December of 2010, the swimming pool at the Babbitt-Embarrass High School was dedicated as the Richard J. Niss Natatorium. Dick was active in his community as a founding member of the Babbitt Lions Club and the Babbitt History Center. He served on the finance committee at St. Pius Catholic Church, on both the Babbitt and Arrowhead Library Boards, and on the Babbitt City Council. He moved to Spring Lake Park, Minnesota in 2014 to be closer to his daughters and grandchildren. Dick was an avid reader and history buff. He loved to travel and achieved his goal of traveling to all of the 50 states as well as parts of Canada and Europe. He was always very grateful for the relationships that he maintained with a number of his former students and swimmers. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Pat, his brother A. Wallace “Wally” Niss and sister Mary Kerr. He will be greatly missed by his daughters Jamie (Eugene) Dunn of Coon Rapids, Martha (Lou) Sinko of Blaine, grandchildren Ben (Stephanie) Sinko of Carver, Elissa Blair (Adam Longley) of Minneapolis, Eugene Dunn (Vickie Franco) of St. Paul, Andrew Sinko (Simon Love) of London, England, Brian Dunn and Colin Dunn of Coon Rapids as well as great-grandchildren, Camdyn, Gabby, Hana, Jackson, Hazel, and Greta, sisters-in-law Mary Newville of Portland, OR and Mary Chonko of Jackson, MN as well as numerous nieces and nephews. The family extends its heartfelt thanks to the staff of Presbyterian Homes of Spring Lake Park, Andover, and North Oaks as well as Health Partners Hospice for the support and loving care that he received. A celebration of his life and gathering for close family and friends was held with interment following at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. The family requests that expressions of sympathy take the form of donations to The Alzheimer’s Association, The Babbitt Public Library, or the Babbitt History Center. Arrangements with Kozlak-Radulovich Chapel, 763-783-1100.