Nick Check, age 94, of Stevens Point passed away Saturday morning, November 16, 2019, at St. Michael’s Hospital.
A Celebration of Life ceremony will take place in the Alumni Room, third floor of the Dreyfus University Center on the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campus, at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, November 26. Friends and family will gather to share memories in the Alumni Room from 12 noon – 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday before the service. Burial will be in the Guardian Angel Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, a memorial will be established in his name for Meals on Wheels of Stevens Point.
Nick was born on August 15, 1925, in the Town of Sharon, the son of Barney and Regina (Omernik) Check. Nick was raised on a small dairy farm with 12 brothers and sisters. In those early years, the farm did not have electricity. At the time logging was done with an ax and the fields were plowed with a horse.
There was also no public transportation in the area, so he boarded in order to graduate from Rosholt High School in 1942. He married Celia Mazoch, who also attended Rosholt-area schools, on February 26, 1949, in Milwaukee.
Shortly thereafter, Nick joined the Milwaukee Police Department, where he served as an officer from 1951-1961. In 1961, at the age of 35, Nick joined the Portage County Sheriff’s Department as chief deputy and was involved in high profile cases and investigations. In one prominent trial involving the double slaying of two men, the state relied on Nick as the sole prosecution witness. In his role as chief deputy, Nick was credited for modernizing the county sheriff’s office using contemporary law enforcement practices he had learned while serving as an officer in Milwaukee.
In 1964, Nick ran successfully for Portage Co. Sheriff and served seven consecutive terms until 1979 as the county’s longest-serving chief law enforcement officer. His tenure as sheriff coincided with tumultuous political and social times, including student anti-war protests with sit-ins and occupations at UWSP.
During one protest, Nick agreed to provide a police escort for a spontaneous march on a downtown street and was later lauded for his ability to manage conflict peacefully while resisting short-sighted calls to “bust some heads.”
In endorsing his re-election bid in 1972, the student newspaper, The Pointer, wrote, “Sheriff Check has, we feel, operated his office on a highly professional level. His rapport with students and his common-sense handling of student protests and demonstrations favors well with students.”
During his time as sheriff, Nick was tapped to serve on numerous committees and boards dealing with drug and alcohol policy, safety education, mental illness, and emergency preparedness. His service included eight years as chair of the Wisconsin Council on Criminal Justice, an organization charged with distributing federal funds for the improvement of the criminal justice system in Wisconsin. He also served eight years as a member of the Wisconsin Bingo Board and was the co-founder and past president of the Badger State Sheriffs Association.
In addition to his public service as a law enforcement officer, Nick was an active member of St. Stephens Catholic Church, where he served as the president of the church council, and numerous civic and religious committees.
Following his law enforcement career, Nick served several years as a court-appointed legal guardian prior to his retirement.
Nick is survived by three children: Patricia Check, Carrollton, Texas; Gene Check (Mary DiSalvo), Amherst Junction; and Terence Check (Andrea Shaker), Minneapolis. He is also survived by four grandchildren, Jason, Dan, Iris, and Luka; and four great-grandchildren, Madeline, Lydia, Gwen, and Kiera; as well as one sister, Grace (Pliska); and two brothers, Andy and Wally.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife of 67 years Celia, his daughter Juanita, his son Bill, his son-in-law Richard, and by four brothers: Thomas, Joseph, Henry, Bernard; and five sisters: Veronica, Josephine, Theresa, Elizabeth, and Mary.
Friends and family gathering for the visitation and service in the Alumni Room of the Dreyfus University Center at UW-SP on Tuesday, November 26, should be aware that there is metered parking (accepts quarters) for guests on the west and north sides of the building, and “pay by plate” parking (credit card or coin) on Reserve Street (west side of building) and Fremont Street (east side of building), as well as 2-hour street parking on Illinois Street (east of the venue). The venue is handicap accessible, with an elevator to the third floor.
Online condolences may be sent by visiting www.shudafuneral.com.