Nicholas Astrahantseff

Nick passed into everlasting life in the early morning hours of March 6, 2020. He had been in declining health since suffering a stroke in 2014. During the last four months of his life he was a resident of the Meridian at Lake San Marcos Retirement Community Memory Care. It was a happy place for him with many activities.

Nick was born in Children’s Hospital in San Francisco. He was a first born son of Nicholas Astrahantseff and Alexandra Cherinikh Astrahantseff. Previously his family had fled from their estate in Yekaterinburg, Russia in 1917 and eventually settled in San Francisco and Seattle areas.

Nick grew up in San Francisco. The transplanted Russians loved life and embraced their new country and what it had to offer. Nick bought into that. He and a high school buddy bought an old Packard on their lunch hour one day when neither of them knew how to drive. They learned on those San Francisco hills.

Following graduation from Lowell High School in June 1942, Nick took a war time job in the shipyard with General Engineering Company. From 1944-1946, he sailed the Pacific with the Merchant Marines until VJ Day. After that he spent eight months sailing between France, England and Germany.

In 1947, Nick attended USC and studied architecture. In 1951, the Korean War claimed him and he chose the U.S. Army where he attended the Counter Intelligence Corp Center at Fort Holabird, Maryland. He was then posted in Hokkaido, Japan, G-2, with a top secret clearance. He followed his service in 1953 as a reservist for seven more years.

After the Army, Nick contemplated his next moves in architecture. He took a position of designer and draftsman with C. Crist Designer and Gene Wilson Contractor in Los Angeles in 1953. He moved to Kistner, Wright and Wright in 1955. He took on a project for Cerritos College with a government contract on a Navy building.

In 1957, Nick married Colleen Carol Crist and moved to Palm Springs where he worked with several firms, ending with Williams and Williams before opening his own firm. For the next eight years, he was involved in many projects. Highlights were the award winning Palm Springs Spa, award winning El Dorado Country Club, the Raquet Club Development, the Oasis Hotel and awarded winning Aerial Upper Tramway Station.

In 1965, Nick worked for the U.S. Information Agency as a Russian speaking architect with the traveling exhibit of American Architecture in the Soviet Union. He ended that year with a tour of Europe in a VW Beetle he purchased in Germany.

He returned to Palm Springs on 1969 and worked on the California Water and Telephone Building with the William F. Cody firm. He began the Nicholas Astrahantseff and Associates architectural firm and did residential designs with Arthur Elrod and Associates who specialized in interior designs and furniture. Together they worked on the Johnson Publishing Company Building in Chicago, the Goldman Residence remodel of the Kaiser Estate in Honolulu, the Cricket Club in Miami, the Hagadon Publishing Company building in Idaho, the Kennedy Performing Arts Center and the Desert Museum in Palm Springs.

After the sudden death of Arthur in 1974, Nicholas closed his business and retired to Baja, Mexico, traveling to California when he needed a U.S. fix.

His wife Colleen passed away in 1992 and Nick moved San Diego county and became a member of the San Diego Water Color Society. In 1995, while attending a dinner party, he met a retired school teacher and UCCE Master Gardener, Suzie Heap. He borrowed a book from her and the rest was history. He moved to Coronado and they enjoyed a 24 year partnership of traveling the world, gardening, art, doing hospitality for the San Diego Symphony, were Circle members and Ambassadors for the San Diego Zoo and Lamb’s Players Theatre. Nick went on to join a men’s bridge group, collected recipes, donated many fines to the Coronado Library after checking out more books than he could read in the given time.

Nick was predeceased by his wife Colleen; his younger brother Sergei; and his cousin Helen. He is survived by his Suzie; her two daughters, Katy (Rick)and Cecily (Nick); her grandchildren Justin, Jon, Elana (Allen); her great-grandchildren Kate; and Nick’s niece Kathy, Sergei’s daughter.

Rest in peace Nicolai Nicolaiovich Astrahantseff. You have had a life well lived.

A private family service will be held in May in the Memorial Garden fo Christ Episcopal Church in Coronado.

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