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Carol Kelley Nickel, 63, Dies of Breast Cancer

An accomplished attorney, Carol Kelley Nickel was the first female partner of her law firm and an active member in the Montgomery County swimming community.

Carol Kelley Nickel of Potomac died on Dec. 19 at the age of 63 after a six-year battle with breast cancer. An accomplished attorney and devoted mother, she passed just two days after her sixty-third birthday.

"She was just a teriffic mother, and a terrific attorney too," said her husband, Henry V. Nickel.

Carol Kelley Nickel was born in Boston, Mass. and grew up in Miami, Fla. graduating from Everglades High School in 1961. After graduating from Wellesley College in 1965 with a B.A. in history, she went on to attend George Washington University Law School. There she served as Articled Editor of the Georgetown University Law Review before graduating in 1968. Shortly after graduating she married fellow graduate Henry V. Nickel. The two were married for 38 years until Mrs. Nickel's death.

Mrs. Nickel joined the law firm of Ivins, Phillips and Barker, Chartered after her graduation from law school. Five years later she became the first female partner in the firm's history. An expert in trusts, estates, tax law and corporate tax law, she prepared then-Vice President Nelson Rockefeller as a witness in a tax court trial involving the estate of Joseph C. Wilson, CEO of Xerox. It is believed that that is the only case in which a sitting vice president has ever testified in a trial, said Henry V. Nickel. In addition, Carol served for many years on the Management Committee of Ivins, Phillips and Barker, where she had a leading role.

"She was a working mom, and a terrific mom on top of that," said David F. Nickel, one of the three Nickel children.

In addition to her professional activities, Mrs. Nickel was active in the Montgomery County Swim League and the Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club, where she served as president of each organization. Each of the three Nickel children — all boys — swam as children, and her son David F. Nickel attended Princeton University and was a member of it's swim team.

"The way she looked at it," said David F. Nickel, "Montgomery County and Potomac had given so much to her sons [through the swimming community] that she felt obliged to give back and say thank you for all their support."

Mrs. Nickel is survived by her husband of 38 years, Henry V. Nickel; three sons, Henry Robert, David F. and Edward K.; two grandsons, Conner and Jack, four brothers, Pierce Kelley, Chris Kelley, Allan Kelley, and Bruce Kelley; and many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Sibley Memorial Hospital. A private service for immediate family was held Dec. 22 , and a public memorial service will be held on Jan. 20 at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Mercy Parish on Kentsdale Drive in Potomac.

— Aaron Stern reported for this article.