John Nydegger

John Nydegger


John Louis Nydegger, 93, of Lewiston, Idaho, formerly of Elgin, Iowa died November 29, 2019 at the Veteran’s Home in Lewiston, Idaho. John was born on November 28, 1926, the only child of John and Helen (Cummings) Nydegger. He grew up on a small farm near Elgin, Iowa and attended a one-room country school for eight years. John graduated from West Union High School in 1944.


Before being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1945, John attended the University of Iowa for one year. While in the service, he served in the Philippine Islands as a member of the 281stArmy Ground Forces band. On his discharge from the service, John attended Iowa State Teachers College, (now The University of Northern Iowa) graduating in 1949 with majors in English, Speech and Drama.


John taught Drama, Speech & English at Waverly, Iowa High School and East Waterloo Iowa High School from 1949 to 1954. John contracted paralytic polio in 1954, the last case of the disease in Iowa, prior to the discovery of the vaccine for the disease in 1955. John then taught Drama and Speech at Ellsworth College in Iowa Falls, Iowa from 1954 to 1963. He earned his Masters Degree in Theatre from the University of Denver in 1955 and his Ph. D. in Theatre in 1969 from the same university.


John came to LCSC, then Lewis-Clark Normal School, in 1963 where he taught Theatre and Speech until his retirement in 1987. During that tenure he directed more than 50 plays and musicals. He also served as Academic Dean of the college for several years.


John was one of the founders of the Lewiston Civic Theatre in 1964 and served as its first director in its original “home”, the Porthouse Theatre on the Snake River Beach. He also acted in several productions of the theatre.


John was one of the founders of Civic Arts, Inc. and served as its president and on its board of directors for several years. He also served on the Washington-Idaho Symphony board of directors.


His hobbies included gardening, cooking, traveling and doing fancy stitchery.


John married Carol McCallum in 1954; they were divorced in 1963.


John’s parents preceded him in death. He is survived by cousins in Iowa. 


John has asked that flowers not be sent as memorials, but that those who wish to make a memorial do so in the form of a contribution to the John L. Nydegger Scholarship. This fund was established several years ago in Dr. Nydegger’s name to benefit promising theatre students at Lewis-Clark State College.


A public graveside service will be held Saturday October 17, 2020 at 2 pm at the Illyria Cemetery in rural Elgin, Iowa.  Please bring a lawn chair, wear a mask and practice social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 




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