Maria Freiin Nickles
November 29, 1937 ~ November 2, 2023
Resided in: Great Falls, Virginia
Maria Freiin Nickles, devoted wife, mother, and grandmother, passed away on November 2, 2023, in Great Falls, Virginia. She was born on November 29, 1937, in Göttingen, Germany, to Albrecht Freiherr Knigge and Louise Sophie Freifrau Knigge, (née Gräfin von Hardenberg). She shared 61 years of marriage with her beloved husband, Peter John Nickles.
Maria grew up on a farm in Bredenbeck, Germany with her five siblings, and was known for her creativity and adventurous spirit. Nature was her playground, and her adventures in the vast fields, woods, and orchards of her youth provided the grounding for her life and the inspiration for her artistic voice.
While living in Boston, Maria met Peter Nickles. Following a short courtship, they married on July 28, 1962, at her childhood farm in Germany. They settled in Great Falls, Virginia, where they would create a lifelong home.
As a mother, Maria was a pillar of support to her family. Whether it was manning the hotdog stand at a basketball game, scorekeeping at a Little League game, creating the perfect Halloween costume, or holding a horse before an event, you could always count on Maria.
She created a magical childhood for her children, nurturing their dreams, and turning their house into a loving home. And just like her own childhood home, Maria’s house was open to everyone. It was a warm place where magic and adventure lived, and where everyone loved Maria.
Maria loved life—riding horses, gardening, working with children, and finding hidden treasures at flea markets. But it was her kindness and welcoming spirit that made her who she was.
Maria was also a prolific and versatile artist. Her journey as an artist began at the Art Institute in Berlin. While she specialized in watercolor and pen-and-ink, her artistic passions extended to porcelain painting and the creation of elaborate gingerbread houses, some of which were displayed at the German Embassy and The Smithsonian Institution. Every Christmas, she hosted gingerbread parties for her grandchildren and shared her artistic creations with friends. Maria was also a gifted illustrator, and her whimsical images grace the pages of many children’s books.
An active member of the community, Maria loved her hometown friends, her German “Kaffeklatsch,” her China Painting group, and all the friends she made in Hawaii and Maine. She also treasured her close ties with her family in Germany, often traveling to reunite with loved ones.
Maria saw all the beauty in the world and embraced it, both through her art and her life. She will be deeply missed by her family and friends. Her wonderful, gentle spirit was truly unique, and her memory will forever live on in the hearts of all those she touched with her kindness and love.
Maria is survived by her husband, Peter; her three children, John (Shelley) Nickles, Philip (Laura) Nickles, and Aletta (Robert) Martin; eight grandchildren, Sophia, Clara, Johnny, Kealani, Ethan, Louisa, Annie, and William; two siblings, Helene Gräfin von Reichenbach and Albrecht Freiherr Knigge, as well as many beloved family members and friends.
A memorial service in honor of Maria will be held on Saturday, November 18, 2023, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Great Falls Methodist Church.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Maria’s memory can be made to ‘Lift me Up!’ a therapeutic horsemanship charity, at
https://liftmeup.org/donations or by mailing a check to P.O. Box 104, Great Falls, VA 22066.
Memorial Service: November 18, 2023 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Great Falls United Methodist Church
10100 Georgetown Pike