Archpriest Nicholas RJ Neyman
11/6/1942 - 12/12/2021
Post Falls, Idaho
Very Reverend Fr. Nicholas (Roger Jeffrey/RJ) Neyman, 79 years old of Post Falls, ID died peacefully in his home surrounded by his family on December 12, 2021 at 8:07PM. He was born November 6, 1943 to Richard and Anna Vivian Neyman in Dayton, Ohio. Tragically when RJ was only 9 years old his father Richard passed away suddenly. At 11 years old the family moved to Southern California which was providential because when he was 17 Roger was blessed to get a second Dad and mentor when his Mother married the second love of her life Howard King. Roger began his Christian journey as a Methodist, but was eventually drawn to Eastern Orthodox Christianity when he went to a Russian Orthodox Church for a religions class. The Orthodox Church was rich with history and he was deeply inspired by the iconography that covered the church walls. In 1965 Roger was received into the Orthodox Faith, through Chrismation, on Lazarus Saturday at St. Innocent Russian Orthodox Church in Encino by his godfather, Fr. Sergei Glagolov.
In 1966 he met Malvina (Malvi) Chala…his future bride at a pan-orthodox young adult retreat at Camp St. Nicholas in Frazier Park, CA. A brief time later he graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a Bachelor’s Degree in Ornamental Horticulture. By July he and Malvi were deeply in love and became engaged. They were married a short time later, on October 30, 1966 at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles, CA. The following year, 1967, Roger entered Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary. He and Malvi were the first married couple to attend seminary together and their son, Richard, born May 13, 1968, was the first baby ever born at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. Even further, Roger was the first Deacon to be ordained at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. Roger went on to graduate seminary in 1969 with his Master of Divinity. That same year Roger was ordained the Holy Priesthood by Bishop THEODOSIS and took the name of his Patron Saint, thereby becoming “Father Nicholas”.
Father Nicholas’ first assignment began in 1969 at St. Michael’s Orthodox Church in Pueblo, Colorado. It was here that his first daughter, Marianna, was born March 24, 1971. Later in 1971, Fr. Nicholas was transferred to St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church in West Palm Beach, Florida. While here he established a thriving daycare called Angels Ark. This name was strategically chosen in order to “come first in the Yellow Pages”. Five years later, in 1976 his twin daughters, Julianna and Joanna were born. Fr. Nicholas served at West Palm Beach until he was transferred to Camp St. Nicholas in Frazier Park, CA in 1981. While simultaneously working as the new priest and caretaker of the camp, he was “loaned” to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese from 1982-1989. During this time Fr. Nicholas started St. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Lancaster, CA. Shortly after leaving St. Constantine & Helen’s, in 1989, Father Nicholas took on the founding of Holy Cross, an Antiochian Orthodox Mission, in Palmdale, CA. Holy Cross became a second home for Fr. Nicholas and his family for the next 20 years as they cumulatively drove thousands of miles come sun, rain, or snow to serve the families within their little church community. Due to his love, care and prayers both Churches are still going strong to this day.
Father Nicholas and Malvi spent a total of 24 years as the directors and caretakers of Camp St. Nicholas. Known by literally thousands of young people as their Camp Dad, Fr. Nicholas will live on in their hearts and memories forever. Many campers fondly recall his famous singing alarm clock song each morning. He and Malvi would wake up at the break of dawn on a daily basis to cook breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for “their little campers”. However, they would never be too tired to provide a hug, love, or support to those who needed the extra TLC that only they could provide.
After the decades of serving both camp and Holy Cross, Father Nicholas was granted retirement status by Metropolitan PHILIP and then Bishop JOSEPH. With a less busy life in mind, he and Malvi decided to move to Idaho to be closer to three of their four children. In 2005, Fr. Nicholas was attached to the parish of St. John the Baptist Antiochian Orthodox Church in Post Falls, Idaho where he was “hardly retired”. He happily took on the role of being “the Children’s Priest” and would make holy bread for each service. All of the children of St. John’s would look forward to their one-on-one time with Fr. Nicholas before Sunday school each week. The children would eagerly share the songs and stories that they learned from him with their parents. A week before he died Fr. Nicholas and Kh. Malvi hosted a St. Nicholas Day party for the children. Together they had a pizza party, homemade treats, and decorated the church Christmas tree. Fr. Nicholas read them the life of St. Nicholas and surprised them by putting gold chocolate coins in their shoes and giving each child an icon of St. Nicholas along with a big hug. When the children learned that Fr. Nicholas was sick many made him get well cards. The parents reported that the children were sobbing their little hearts out while doing this act of love. He was so beloved by them all!
Fr. Nicholas was responsible for renovating the St. John Cemetery and bringing it “new life”. Despite retirement, he would serve the Divine Liturgy and other services with his sons-in-law Fr. Mark, at St. John the Baptist Antiochian Orthodox Church in Post Falls, Idaho and Fr. Samer at the Antiochian Church of the Redeemer in Los Altos, California. He would say that this was “one of his greatest joys”. With 52 years in the priesthood Archpriest Nicholas maintained close contact with parishioners from his first appointed Church through the last. Everyone who knew him felt like they were a part of his family. In his good humor, Father Nicholas would comment that his Christmas list was getting shorter and shorter as he got older became he had become closer to the “top of the food chain”. Death did not frighten Fr. Nicholas because he knew that Christ is risen and he would be able to spend eternity in His glorious presence reunited with his loved ones.
Father Nicholas truly was the epitome of the “Good and Faithful Servant”, in that he pulled no punches when it came to the Faith and always said Christianity is not a smorgasbord where one can pick and choose. “The Faith”, Father Nicholas said, “is non-negotiable and must follow protocol”. He always delivered the Good News in a plain and straight-forward manner in order to avoid confusion. His childrens sermons would speak to the hearts and souls of the young and old alike. He loved to teach about the simplicity of The Faith and that we did not need to overcomplicate things. He would encourage everyone to “just be present” and allow God to work in them. Father Nicholas selflessly gave to those around him and to the Church. Up until days before his death he was helping to plan fundraisers for the Temple Project at St. John’s. He went out with his censor blazing exactly as he wished.
May our Lord grant rest to this shining example of Orthodoxy. Fr. Nicholas was an exemplary husband, father, priest, confessor, papa, godfather, friend, baker, gardener and confidant. In his love Father Nicholas has inspired countless generations of young and old alike, and together with his bride Malvi, they shine like the stars in heaven guiding us to our Heavenly Father. Archpriest Nicholas is survived by his Precious wife Kh. Malvi, son: Richard (Mary Jo Nyenhuis), his three daughters: Marianna (William Boyd), Julianna (Archpriest Dr. Samer Youssef), Joanna (Priest Mark Townsend) and his baker’s dozen of grandchildren: Mary Nicole, Tabitha, Sophia, Dimitry, Rebekah, Genevieve, Nicholas, Howard, William, Damian, Dominic, Andrew and Ryan. Until we meet again. Memory eternal! Christ is risen!
Services will be Monday 12/20 at 7PM and burial Tuesday 12/21 at 10AM at St. John the Baptist Antiochian Orthodox Church 4718 E. Horsehaven Ave. Post Falls, ID 83854.
Streaming will be available for those who are unable to attend. The link will be @ stjohnorthodox.org
Archpriest Nicholas was so excited about a new traditional church temple "for the children" and as a beacon of hope for the community. As such, in lieu of flowers please send your donation to https://stjohnorthodox.churchcenter.com/giving and choose the dropdown for “Spiritual Bouquets” in honor of Archpriest Nicholas or mail donations to 4718 East Horsehaven Ave. Post Falls, ID 83854.
Please visit the video of service at https://youtu.be/1079yJvwWn8
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