Deceased November 2, 2006
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Our esteemed classmate, Bill Nichols, died suddenly of a massive bacterial infection of unknown origin on November 2, 2006. His wife, three sons and daughter were at his bedside. William Deming Nichols was born in New Haven, CT, November 12, 1924. He lived in North Haven, CT, until his graduation from Hamden High. After obtaining an athletic scholarship to the University of Illinois in the midst of World War II, he volunteered for the Marine Corps. His talents apparently were quickly recognized, and he was one of the first to learn to operate the new radar technology. He earned the rank of Sergeant at the early age of 18 and was put in command of an anti-aircraft battery on the Pacific Island of Tinian. He became a marine officer before being discharged.
After World War II ended, Bill was recruited by Bill Wilson to join the legendary ranks of war veterans at Amherst as a sophomore. Classmates fresh from high school were at first oblivious to Bill’s varied experiences that added a dimension beyond the broad grasp of the new curriculum and Larry Packard. Bill was a stalwart member of the Class of 1951 and of Theta Delta Chi. He provided depth to that remarkable postwar Amherst culture.
After Amherst, Nichols entered Harvard Law School and received his LLB in 1954. Again the talents of our unpretentious classmate emerged when he was selected an editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review: Don Cohan, Dick deLima, John Edmonds, Jim Harris, Ed Haynes, Phil Kalodner, Clark King, John Kirkpatrick and Jud Parsons were other Harvard Law grads from our Amherst class. Five fraternity brothers from the same little college class may be some sort of Harvard Law record!
In 1953, Bill married Nancy Bird after she graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1952. From Harvard, Nichols moved first to Concord and then to Carlisle, MA. There they raised four children and loyalty to his family, his land, and his garden were his priorities. In the summer, he could occasionally be lured away to a summer home at Long Pond in Plymouth, MA. Recently, he and Nancy moved to Sandwich, NH, so they could be close to their joint love of skiing.
Bill joined the firm of Ropes and Gray in Boston upon graduation. From 1963 until his retirement, Nichols was a lead partner at Sullivan and Worcester. His specialty was working with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was an expert on intricate corporate negotiations, stock offers and reorganizations. Along with memberships in the Harvard Club of Boston, the Boston Athenaeum and the Concord Country Club, Bill joined the Pinewoods Morris Team (a folk dance group). He had recently confessed that, although he avowed a limited sense of rhythm, his real desire was to be a soft shoe man. Such aspirations account for his carrying on the English Morris tradition of socialization. Recently, he was in the process of collecting all the songs he liked from the ’20s through some present renditions onto his iPod reaching thousands of favorites.
In addition to his wife, Bill is survived by his four children: Nathaniel St. John Nichols and his wife, Maria Ortiz, and their two boys, William and Lucas, of Plymouth, MA; Malcolm Swift Nichols and his wife, Allison Donenfeld, and their two children, Steffany and Justin, of Tewksbury, MA; William Gregory Nichols and his wife, Brenda Erie, and their two girls, Abigail and Kathryn, of Concord, MA; and daughter Deborah Bird McDonald and her husband, Anthony McDonald, of Wingina, VA. Bill’s classmates share their sense of loss at the passing of a man whose modesty masked courage, ability and sensitivity, to which his varied attainments fully testify.
—John Edmonds ’51
—Charlie Tritschler ’51