PETER “Tato” “Funny Boy” NIKOLOF, 93, of Jackson Twp., NJ, passed away peacefully at home on Wednesday, March 6, 2019, surrounded by his loving family. Peter resided in Freehold, NJ, Edison, NJ, and Irvington, NJ, prior to settling in Jackson Twp., 19 years ago.
He was born in the small village of Markovo, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and enjoyed an idyllic childhood on his family’s farm until communism took hold of his cherished country.
Escaping with his life in 1951, with his beloved brother, Ivan, by his side, he tearfully left his homeland. With only the clothes on their backs, they walked for days, often going hungry until reaching the temporary safety of Greece.
From there, they were able to gain safe passage to Brazil where they began to rebuild their lives. Ivan married and had three daughters and two grandsons while Peter continued to dream of freeing his dear Bulgaria from communism.
To realize this dream, he traveled to America and continued his fight against the oppression of communism in Bulgaria. After many years of struggle and hard work by him and his other countrymen, he was able to see his dream come true as the iron curtain fell.
In 1991, he was finally able to make a return visit to Bulgaria although it was bittersweet as many of his family and friends did not survive. In 2001, he reunited with his brother, Ivan, and together they visited their homeland and relived happy memories of their youth.
As much as he loved the country of his birth and was happy to see the stranglehold of communism gone, he recognized that he was now a proud American. For the remainder of his life, he continued to love his birth country while never forgetting the freedom he found in America.
He always made sure to vote in every election and encourage others to exercise their right to vote. He could always be found proudly wearing his American flag hat or hanging the Stars & Stripes outside his home on all the patriotic holidays.
Peter was a self-employed roofer and carpenter prior to his retirement in September 2000. He had previously also worked as a sub-contractor for Otto Moravek & Sons, Union, NJ.
“Tato”, as he was affectionately known by family, was a jokester and loved traveling, collecting coins, watching game shows, playing scratch-off lottery games, hitting the quarter slots in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, taking walks and talking to his neighbors, and most of all, spending time with his adoring family.
He is survived by his devoted wife of 55 years, Maria Nikolof; their sons, Carlos DaSilva and his wife, Raquel of Elizabeth, NJ, Italo DaSilva and his wife Lucia of Araxa, MG, Brazil, and Stefan Nikolof and his wife, Linda of Howell Twp.; their daughters, Zilda Pereira and her husband, Eneas of Jackson Twp., and Velika Nikolof of Jackson Twp.; their 15 grandchildren, Larry, Michelle, Elijah, Daniel, Michael, Sándor, Christopher, Max, John, Wellington, Michela, Thais, Natalia, Andreza and Jonathan, and 21 great grandchildren, and 1 great-great-granddaughter; his 3 nieces, Margarita, Rosane and Rosita Nikolof of Porto Alegre, RS,Brazil; and his 2 great nephews, Rodrigo Nikolof of Sydney, NSW Australia, and Guilherme Nikolof of Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.
Arrangements are private and under the care of the GEORGE S. HASSLER FUNERAL HOME, 980 Bennetts Mills Road, Jackson Twp., NJ. For further information and to leave condolence messages to the family, please select the appropriate tab.