Julie Allyn Nicoletta

December 22, 1965 ~ August 28, 2023 (age 57) 57 Years Old

Julie Nicoletta Obituary

Julie Allyn Nicoletta died peacefully at her home in Seattle on August 28th 2023 after a two-year
battle with lung cancer. Her husband, Michael Kucher, son, Luca Kucher, mother, Stella
Nicoletta, and younger sister Amy Nicoletta were by her side. She was 57 years old.
A professor at the University of Washington Tacoma for over two decades, Julie taught
thousands of students. She developed courses in American history, art and architectural history,
and material culture studies. She found joy in encouraging her students to pay attention to the
ordinary world around us to understand the past lives of everyday people.
Julie was born in Buffalo, New York, on December 22, 1965, the eldest child of Carmen
Anthony Nicoletta, an aerospace engineer, and Stella Dolores (neé Mangione) Nicoletta, a
homemaker. Her father took a job at NASA to work on the Apollo moon missions in the late
1960s, moving the family to suburban Washington, DC. When the Apollo program wound down
in the early 1970s, the family relocated to Claremont, CA. Although she only lived in California
for a total of 15 years, Julie always thought of that state as her home, because she loved the
desert environment of southern California and returned there often to visit family. She attended
public schools in Claremont, graduating from Claremont High School in 1983.
She began her college career as an economics and finance major at the Wharton School of the
University of Pennsylvania, but a work-study job as an inventory assistant at the University
Museum at UPenn studying Near Eastern artifacts led her to switch gears. She transferred to
Pomona College and became an art history major. Her professors there, all grounded in social
historical approaches to the study of art, taught her the importance of using social, political, and
economic factors rather than just aesthetic ones to understand art history. She graduated from
Pomona College in 1987, then enrolled at Yale University to continue her studies. At Yale, she
worked with the Mesoamericanist Michael Coe, and the art historians, Abbott Lowell
Cummings, George Hersey, and Jules Prown. It was Professor Coe who raised an interest in the
Shakers. Julie was intrigued by the religious group’s religious and social complexities, despite
their outward simplicity in dress, architecture, and furniture. She wrote her dissertation on the
dwelling houses at the Shaker community at Mount Lebanon, New York, near Albany, and
earned her Ph.D. in 1993.
After working briefly as the architectural historian in the State Historic Preservation Office in
Carson City, Nevada, in the mid-1990s, Julie and Michael moved to Tacoma, Washington, in
1996, where they took teaching jobs at the new University of Washington campus there, only six
years old at the time. Julie spent her entire academic career at UW Tacoma, rising through the
ranks to become a full professor in 2007. She produced numerous articles on women’s art,
Shaker architecture, and the architecture of the New York World’s Fair of 1964-1965, among
other topics. She published two books, The Architecture of the Shakers (W.W.
Norton/Countryman Press, 1995) and the Buildings of Nevada (Oxford University Press, 2000).
Julie and Michael met as graduate students in Wilmington, Delaware. They married in 1993.
Their only child, Luca, was born in 2004. Julie loved being a mother. She cherished her time
with her son and was grateful to see him thrive and grow into a young man. Julie enjoyed
walking, hiking, traveling, and cooking. She could spend hours walking cities and neighborhoods
around the world looking at architecture.
In September 2021, she was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer that had metastasized to her
spine. Though surgery to remove the tumor in her spine was successful, the tumor caused a
partial spinal cord injury, initially leaving Julie unable to walk and with chronic nerve damage.
Over the subsequent months, with a lot of strength and determination, Julie relearned to walk,
first with a walker, then with a cane or trekking poles, and then with no aids. She worked on her
physical recovery while undergoing chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation treatments for
the cancer. When the cancer treatments stopped working, she decided to switch to hospice care at
home in May 2023.
Michael and Luca will be forever grateful to the dozens of family and friends, near and far, and
neighbors in Julie’s beloved community of Wallingford who pitched in to provide meals, run
errands, do chores, drive Julie to appointments, and take walks with her as she recovered her
mobility. They also thank all the doctors, nurses, staff, and amazing valet parking attendants at
the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center who made dealing with cancer as easy as it could possibly
In addition to her husband, son, and mother, Julie is survived by her sister, Amy Nicoletta,
brother-in-law, Chris Jones, niece, Mia Jones, and brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Mark and
Diane Iezzatti.
A celebration of life is being planned in 2024. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and Planned Parenthood.

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