Werner Richard Nitschke passed away on September 3rd, 2020, at home surrounded by the comfort of his family.

He was born Aug. 16, 1934, in Manhattan, N.Y., the first son of Walter and Meta (Bielefeld) 

Nitschke. For the first two years Werner and his mother lived in Germany. They returned in 1936 to Manhattan where they remained for a few years before moving within New York City and eventually Long Island. Werner received all his formal education in New York and graduated from Long Island Agricultural and Technical Institute. He was recruited as a Manufacturing Engineer by Grumman Engineering Corporation in 1955. He was united in marriage to Diane Ricardo on Sept. 6, 1959, at the Hillside Methodist Church in New Hyde Park, N.Y. They resided in Commack, N.Y., and had two children, Mark and Deidre. Graduate school took them to DeKalb, Ill., where Werner obtained a Ph.D. in experimental psychology. He joined the Luther College faculty in 1972 and taught a popular lab course on Learning and Behavioral Theory. During his time at Luther College he published a book on acoustic behavior in the rat, wrote several peer review journal articles and obtained two major equipment grants.

Werner always had an interest in athletics. The sports of his youth were football and lacrosse, which would eventually be replaced with his enjoyment of tennis. He also continued to enjoy tossing the lacrosse ball around with family. Werner had a number of interests. He and his family loved sailing and sailed on Lake Pepin, Minn., and extensively off the west coast of Florida, voyaging to numerous barrier islands.  More often than not, it was coupled with unplanned excitement such as being entrenched in a seabed miles away from land Werner also enjoyed writing. He contributed a few articles for Agora, the college magazine, and more recently he completed his novel, Where you are not, I cannot be.

Werner is survived by his children, Mark Nitschke (Lori) of Ankeny, IA and Deidre Nitschke Dragon (William) of Mount Vernon, IA; his four grandchildren: Nicole and Michelle Nitschke and Will and Amanda Dragon; and his brother Robert Nitschke of Douglastown, NY.

He is preceded by his wife Diane Dec. 29, 2014, and his parents Meta and Walter Nitschke.

Cards may be addressed to the Nitschke family, 728 Ridge Rd., Decorah, IA 52101 and memorials may be made via donations to University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Information on the memorial gathering will be posted when arrangements are confirmed. Fjelstul Funeral Home in Decorah is serving the family. Online condolences may be made at www.fjelstul.com