Inducted: October 28, 1992
Mr. Nichols left no one in doubt about his opinions on contemporary farm problems. His direct approach, especially in his advocacy of farm marketing, never offended, because of his underlying kindness and generosity.
Mr. Nichols was born in Harwich Township, the son of Thomas Hooper Nichols and the former Ida Taylor. It was during his public school years in Harwich and Blenheim that, in coping with bullies, he decided that "attack was the best defence," a tactic he used effectively many times in later life.
At Blenheim High School, Mr. Nichols developed an interest in sports, that led eventually to playing on a Senior baseball team of near-professional stature. After taking Grade 13 (Fifth Form) at Chatham Collegiate Institute, (making the trip daily to Chatham via the C.W. and L.E. Railway), he decided to try farming, working with his father on a 200 acre farm.
After weathering the Depression years, and acquiring 125 acres, Mr. Nichols started in the 1940s to build a breeding herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle. He eventually exported cattle to the Maritimes, the United States and Yugoslavia; and his quality beef found a market closer to home through the Ontario Red Triangle Baby Beef Association, which sold to prestige hotels and restaurants.
Mr. Nichols was an early grower of hybrid seed corn; and was a Charter Director of the Ontario Seed Corn Growers' Marketing Board, a Director for 30 years and Chairman for 10 years. He also produced seed barley, wheat, field beans and oats.
His work in seed production brought him a Robertson Associate Award from the Canadian Seed Growers' Association in 1960. The citation at that time recognized his service as President of the Kent County Holstein Club; and noted that his farm was "one of the most highly mechanized in Ontario," due to a program that included the purchase of a corn picker in 1940, a combine a decade later, and tractors at a time when agriculture still relied largely on horsepower.
Mr. Nichols' farm became a mecca for such tour groups as Ontario potato growers, second-year O.A.C. students, and Romanian, Yugoslavian and Russian agriculturalists, including the Russian Deputy Minister of Agriculture.
Mr. Nichols business interests were as diversified as his farming interests. In 1935, he and his father acquired an interest in a London funeral home, which was, by his autobiographical admission, "a business I did not know anything about." He closed out that interest with a $7,000 profit.
In 1947, he purchased a one-third interest in Radio Station CHL0, St. Thomas, a percentage that changed with the infusion of additional capital. When the station's top executive left, Mr. Nichols became President, a choice made, he suspected, "because of my political affiliations" and his friendship with Cabinet Ministers. He was able to persuade federal authorities to license the station in both St. Thomas and London, the only radio station at that time to have that privilege. He later developed a residential subdivision in Blenheim.
Mr. Nichols found time to work with community organizations. He was a member of Blenheim United Church, and of Harwich Township Council. He was an enthusiastic Finance Chairman in the development of Blenheim Golf Club and Blenheim Curling Club. One fellow member said of him, "There may be some way to say 'no' when Nix asks for money for a good cause, but I haven't found it!"
Mr. Nichols found an outlet for his enthusiasm in Rotary. He served as President of Blenheim Rotary Club and as Governor of Rotary District 222. In 1973, he was made a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow. As District Governor, he promoted Rotary's Four Way Test a quick evaluation of ethical standards in business and life in district secondary schools.
Mr. Nichols married the former Marion Willmore, now a resident at Blenheim Community Village, in 1929. There are two daughters, Mrs. June Wright, Bradford, and Mrs. Frances Patton, Cobourg.
A long-time friend described Nix as "a happy warrior," adding "everything Nix did, he seemed to enjoy. He was incapable of doing anything half way."