Ann Landwirth Nickoll, a philanthropist, Republican leader and reproductive-rights advocate, died Tuesday at her Los Angeles home after a 12-year battle with cancer. She was 64.
She began her major philanthropy in 1996 when, after undergoing three operations for lung cancer, she feared she would soon die. She and her husband, John, donated an unrestricted endowment of $1 million to Planned Parenthood in Los Angeles, on whose board she served.
The next year, the Nickolls gave $1 million to the Beverly Hills Educational Foundation, which supplements public school budgets in Beverly Hills. It was by far the largest private donation in the group's 20-year history.
The United Way of Los Angeles was the beneficiary of the Nickolls' third $1-million gift, in 1999.
"Being so ill clarifies a lot," Ann Nickoll told The Times in 1997. "It focuses you on what's important and what lasting thing you might want to leave that says something about yourself. I wanted to make a contribution that could be used while I was still alive."
Nickoll was a native of Peoria, Ill., who met her husband while studying art history at the University of Michigan.
She eventually became a successful real estate broker with Mike Silverman and Associates of Beverly Hills, where she worked for 17 years. John Nickoll founded the Foothill Group, a nationwide asset manager and lender that is now a subsidiary of Wells Fargo.
In the 1980s Ann Nickoll became active in the abortion-rights movement through the Los Angeles Women's Campaign Fund. She later helped launch a chapter of Republicans for Choice in Los Angeles.
She was chosen by former Gov. Pete Wilson to be a delegate to two Republican national conventions. She spent her time at the 1996 convention unsuccessfully trying to soften the language of the party's antiabortion platform. "Everyone has this idea that all Republicans are anti-choice and that couldn't be further from the truth," she said a few years ago.
Her subsequent donation to Planned Parenthood was a pointed message that her fight would continue.
Founded Group for Abortion Rights
Nickoll also was a founder of WISH (Women in the Senate and House), a Republican group that promotes women candidates who support abortion rights, as well as a member of the California Council for the Humanities and the Republican State Central Committee.
In addition to her husband, her survivors include two sons, Benjamin and David; two brothers, Michael and Richard Landwirth; two grandchildren; a niece; and a nephew.
A memorial service will be held at noon today at Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary in Culver City. Donations may be made to the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center, Factor Building 8-950, Los Angeles, CA 90095, or Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, 1316 Third Street Promenade, Suite B-4, Santa Monica, CA 90401.