It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Nicholas Whitney Lentz, a remarkable young man known for his resilience and spirit, who left us on November 13th, 2023, at the age of 20. Nicky, a resident of Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, bravely concluded his valiant 20-year battle with cancer with his parents and siblings by his side, leaving behind a legacy of courage and inspiration.
Born in Philadelphia, Nicky was a deeply beloved son of Suzanne and Nate Lentz and cherished brother of Jack and Daisy Lentz. He was a beacon of light and hope throughout his life. Despite his prolonged battle with illness, he never let it define him or diminish his zest for life. His smile and his unwavering positivity touched the lives of all who knew him. Nicky was a miracle child who was never supposed to live past a year, yet with every medical challenge that came his way repeatedly through his life, he overcame and thrived.
Nicky lost much of his sight at a very young age and lost complete sight at the age of seven. He later lost his sense smell, and mobility became a challenge over time. What Nicky never lost was his ability to connect with people and to show care and compassion toward challenges in their lives. Never a victim, Nicky used his years of experiences with doctors and medical treatments to deliver advice, and often a healing bear, to others.
Nicky touched the lives of many people ranging from family and close family friends to people in the Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia Cricket Club, and broader Philadelphia community, to the staff at both St. Lucy’s School for the Blind and Overbook School for the Blind, to the U.S. Squash community, to the networks of his siblings’ friends and teammates at Germantown Friends School, the U.S. Naval Academy and Columbia University. Many received calls from Nicky on a regular basis, with him checking in on them and their lives and offering well-received advice.
Nicky deeply loved his family, and they deeply loved him. Despite his challenges, he travelled extensively with them. Even as travel became more of a physical challenge, he looked forward to his time with family in the Adirondacks and on other family trips domestic and foreign. While the rest of the family took in the sights, Nicky focused on different foods, conversations with new people, listening to audio descriptions of each place, and playing cards with his family.
Nicky loved, collected, and named stuffed bears. He was an avid book listener and also adored Law & Order, especially SVU. He would spend hours organizing and constructing rolling Lego towers, many of which approached ceiling height and despite being blind, he would often be found standing on the back of a sofa putting the finishing touches on one of his towers. A lover of jokes and an avid card player, he was a master at crazy eights, Oh Hell, and recently a master Cribbage player.
Nicky completed his high school requirements and qualified for graduation at Overbrook School for the Blind where he was engaged in a School-to-Work post high school program while beginning courses at the Community College of Philadelphia. He was passionate about math and accessible technology, and he was often looked to as a resource when peer or teachers were having technology challenges.
He is survived by his loving parents, Suzanne and Nate, his devoted siblings Jack and Daisy and his cherished grandparents Sandra Lentz and Barbara and Don Cook, as well as many aunts, uncles, and cousins both blood-related and not. Nicky’s absence will be deeply felt, but his memory will continue to inspire and guide us.
Nicky’s family wishes to extend their heartfelt gratitude to the medical professionals at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for the last two years and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for the prior eighteen. Both institutions provided him with exceptional care and support throughout his journey and they balanced skill and professionalism with deeply personal care.
The family plans to hold a celebration of Nicky’s life in early spring. We hope everyone he touched will share their memories of him with the family in advance of this celebration or as part of it. Details will be provided early in 2024. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Overbrook School for the Blind, an organization that was close to Nicky’s heart where he spent his first four years of early childhood education and the most recent six years of high school and post-high school.
Nicholas's journey was a testament to the human spirit's resilience in the face of adversity. His legacy will forever be etched in the hearts of those who loved him, reminding us to approach each day with the same courage and positivity that he exemplified. Rest in peace, our dear Nicky. We will miss you terribly, but we will never forget you.
The family has requested that remembrances be made in the form of contributions in Nicky’s name to Overbrook School for the Blind. Donations can be sent to Overbrook School for the Blind, 6333 Malvern Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19151. Online donations can be made at https://form-renderer-app.donorperfect.io/give/osb/tribute-a-gift