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Lt. Col. Gerald P. Nicoletta (USAF-Ret.), age 72, of Wicomico, earned his greatest set of wings on 6 January 2012 after a courageous battle with brain cancer.

Jerry passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his loving wife and family. Jerry was born in Hartford, Conn., to the proud parents of Sundina (Foglio) of Tolland, Conn., and the late William A. Nicoletta.

He graduated from Rockville High School, Rockville, Conn., in 1957. He then attended the University of Connecticut receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree in the College of Arts and Sciences. After graduation in 1961, Jerry joined the Air Force. While serving his country as a pilot, he received numerous awards including the Distinguished Flying Cross. He earned a Master of Arts Degree from the University of Alabama in 1974.

After retirement in 1983, Jerry went on to receive an Associate Degree in Applied Science with a major in Police Science in 1985. In 1994 he became a professor at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University teaching classes at Langley AFB and Ft. Eustis, Va., until 2004.

For years, Jerry’s greatest passion was flying his Pitts Special. In 1993, Jerry and Ebbie established Animal Haven, Ltd., a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to rescue and care for abandoned animals. His other interests included reading, learning Italian, cooking and enjoying the great outdoors.

Jerry was an honorable, compassionate, gentle and humble man who loved and cared deeply for his family and friends. His spirit will be greatly missed and his legacy of excellence will live on in our hearts forever.

He leaves to cherish his precious memory, his loving and devoted wife, Mary E. "Ebbie" Nicoletta; one daughter, Shelley; three sons, Jay, Mark and Chris; one step-daughter, Michelle Berryman; three grandchildren, Kristin, Casey and Rachael; two great-grandchildren, Chloe and Colin; sister, Marie Szectowicki and husband Stan of Tolland, Conn.; two brothers, William of Buckley, Wash., and Roger of Stafford Springs, Conn.; mother and father-in-law, Leona and Thomas Everhart of Hayes, Va.; brother-in-law, Gene Everhart and wife Fran of Eden, Ga., and a host of other relatives and friends.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, at Hogg Funeral Home, Gloucester Point. A gathering of family and friends will be held on Friday, Jan. 13, 2012, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the funeral home.

The family wishes to express their special thanks to the staff of the Hampton Roads Neurosurgical Specialists, Riverside Cancer Center, Riverside Gloucester Neurology Center and Peninsula Cancer Institute; Hope in Home Healthcare Agency, especially nurses, Catherine Erickson, Linda Box and CNA Jason Gibson; and to our wonderful neighbors, friends and caregivers who gave so unselfishly to make Jerry’s struggle against his illness as painless as possible.

In Jerry’s memory, contributions may be made to Animal Care Society of Mathews, P.O. Box 121, Mathews, Va. 23109.