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St. Jude Children's Hospital
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Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Edwin Nichols Jr., it is easy to see both his unwavering strength and his unconditional love for his family. He faced challenges head-on with a spirit of fierce determination, and he was never afraid to stand up for what he believed in. Nothing brought Ed greater joy than spending time with his loved ones, no matter how simple the moments. He was a shining example of kindness and acceptance of all those around him. Deeply missed, Ed will be forever loved by those who knew him best.
The 1930s are remembered as a decade of great struggle for many in the United States as the Great Depression was in full swing. Families all across the country struggled to make ends meet. It was during this tumultuous time that Edwin and Daisy (Sharp) Nichols of South Boardman, Michigan, were eagerly anticipating the arrival of their child. On September 6, 1932, their wait was over, and they welcomed their son, Edwin Leroy Jr., into the world.
Growing up, Ed was a typical young man of his generation in many ways. He was raised in the family home alongside his five brothers, Ron, George, Emery, Frank, and Manley. Throughout much of Ed’s childhood, the family lived in Sand Lake, Michigan. The brothers would fish, play football, and roughhouse. They were known to be mischievous and could get themselves into a bit of trouble. Ed was also a mama’s boy and would help out whenever he could. During his middle school years, he worked to earn money for the family to help them through the rough times. The family eventually settled down in Arizona. Ed soon enlisted in the United States Army and went on to serve his country in Korea.
While on leave from the Army in St. Louis, Missouri, Ed met a young woman named Delores Harris. There was an instant connection between them, and after his time in the service, Ed and Delores were married in Grand Rapids. Their marriage also brought Delores’ two children, Jim and Diane, into Ed’s life. With the addition of their daughter, Brenda, their family was complete. After living in various places around the Grand Rapids area, they settled into a house in Wyoming, which would become their longtime home. Though his marriage to Delores eventually came to an end, Ed was always grateful for the time and children they shared together, and the two remained close friends.
All who knew Ed can surely agree that, of all the things he loved in life, he treasured his family above all else. He truly thrived in his role as a father and was very involved in the lives of his children. Ed loved taking them swimming, camping, fishing, and to rodeos. He instilled in his children a deep love for the outdoors. Ed spent a wonderful five years married to Dorothy, and later on, he found companionship once again with Ruth VanderPan. He and Ruth spent twenty years together, and he was devoted to caring for her faithfully as her health declined. Later in life, Ed was thrilled to become a grandfather, a great-grandfather, and even a great–great-grandfather. Even though he wasn’t able to see them as much as he would have liked, he adored his grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren, and he always liked hearing about what was going on in their lives. Ed always considered himself blessed to be surrounded by so many loved ones.
Ed was never afraid to work hard when it came to providing for himself and his family. He spent much of his career at Lescoa, where he would usually operate a hi-lo. Ed’s work gave him a deep sense of fulfillment, and it enabled him to support his loved ones. Though a work-related injury led to an early retirement, he was dedicated to his career and found great joy in his work.
Never one to sit still for long, Ed pursued many hobbies to stay busy in his free time. Holidays were spent with family, and with his characteristic white beard, he would dress up as Santa Claus for Christmas and sometimes even Halloween. Ed could often be found smoking cigars or his pipe. He spent many summers camping at Lakeside Resort in Cedar Springs, and he was always overjoyed when family came to visit him. Ed enjoyed country music, watching Western movies, and wearing turquoise. He was a longtime member of American Legion Post 154 Roger B. Chaffee, and he wore his army baseball caps with great pride.
As family and friends can certainly attest, Edwin Nichols Jr. truly understood the secret to a life well lived. He was a constant source of strength, even in the most difficult of times. A devoted husband, father, and grandfather, Ed was a friend to many and beloved by all. His solid work ethic formed the steady foundation of life, and he was always willing to go above and beyond to serve others. Though he will be dearly missed, Ed leaves behind a priceless legacy that his loved ones will be proud to carry on in his footsteps.
Edwin L Nichols Jr, “Ed”, age 91 of Pierson and formerly of Grand Rapids, passed away February 1, 2024. Ed is survived by his daughters Brenda Alberta and Diane Elliott; grandchildren Doug (Anna) Alberta, Hope Alberta, Josh Garrett, Edwina Daigle, Julie Humphrey, Danielle (Mike) Brown; great grandchildren Doug III (Emily), Alberta, Nikki (Mike) Mendez, Dakoda Alberta, Kayla Cox, Casee Elliott, Alan Burrows, and Olivia Hornsby; as well as 8 great-great grandchildren; sisters-in-law Red Nichols and Shirley Nichols, as well as nieces and nephews. Ed was preceded in death by his wives, Delores Nichols, Dorothy Nichols; longtime companion Ruth VanderPan; son, Jim Garrett; brothers Ron Elmer, George Elmer, Emery Nichols, Frank Nichols and Manley Nichols.
The service to remember and celebrate Ed’s life will be held on Wednesday, February 7, 2024 at 12:30 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE with interment to follow in Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens. Friends are invited to visit with his family on Tuesday evening from 5-7 PM at the funeral home. For those who wish, memorial donations are suggested to either St. Jude Children’s Hospital or a charity of your choice. To read more about Ed, to share a memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com