TRIBUTE: Wayne Baseball Player Nicholas McIlwrath, 29, Was Natural Charmer

Nicholas J. McIlwrath of Wayne died Wednesday, May 23. He was 29 years old.

Nick McIlwrath of Wayne.
Nick McIlwrath of Wayne. Photo Credit: Vandermay Memorial Home

Nicholas was born in Pequannock and raised in Wayne where he attended Wayne Valley High School. He played baseball through the youth programs at Wayne PAL, his father one of his coaches. 

He could switch hit at bat and could play multiple positions including catcher, shortstop and pitcher in the field. 

His coaches nicknamed him “Nolan Nicky” after Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. As Nicholas grew, he was also honored to be a member of the Traveling All Stars.

To be in the company of Nicholas was always a fun and interesting experience. When he was 13, his brother Patrick turned him onto dirt bikes and motorcycles. He loved riding in the woods and in “The Grove” and when he was old enough to get his driver’s license, Nicholas figured he’d see what road bikes were like. 

His first was a Kawasaki street bike and, riding it like it was an extension of himself, he could do a wheelie that would seem to last forever. 

Nicholas also had a real artistic nature and loved doing sketches and drawings. Judging by how often they would show up in a lot of his artistic works it seemed that flames were something he especially liked to draw. Eventually Nicholas explored a new canvas for his art when he started replicating his creations in the form of tattoos on himself. He started with a few tattoos that he gave himself but his first real serious tattoo was one done by a tattoo artist as a memorial to his father whose name was also Nicholas, who passed away in 2000.

Above all else, Nicholas especially cherished his family. He was the most fun uncle his nieces and nephews could ever ask for. They absolutely thought it was the coolest to be with their awesome “Uncle Nicky” who would do anything to make them laugh and be happy – even let them paint his nails which he didn’t even take off right away. 

Always happy and outgoing, he was a natural charmer who was fun to be with and always able to make you laugh – so good in fact that, if you were upset with him for any reason, it was hard to stay mad at him.

Nicholas is predeceased by his father, Nicholas McIlwrath; and grandfathers,  Dan Lougheed and  Wilbert “Red” Keefer.

He is survived by his mom, Donna McIlwrath and her companion Max Williams of Lincoln Park; siblings Colleen and husband Ariel Saia of Westminster, CO, Laura McIlwrath of Little Ferry, Patrick McIlwrath and wife Deidre LaPlaca of West Milford, and Jaclyn and husband Tyler Simmons of Wayne; grandparents Janet Lougheed of Wayne and the late and his paternal grandparents: Jean Keefer of Little Falls; and nieces and nephews Nicole, Madison, Derek, Stevyn, and Sydney. 

Visitation is May 29 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Vander May Wayne Colonial Funeral Home in Wayne.

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