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Nogales Baptist Seminary
2530 Washington Street
Denver, CO 80205
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Life Story / Obituary
Jack Nichols was a devoted man and servant of Christ. He loved his family dearly and showed by word and deed the many ways that God loves the whole world. His wife and children were partners with him in his calling to ministry. At one and the same time, Jack was a teacher and a student, a thinker and a doer, a world traveler and a homebody. He was happy to live his life for God and others.
Jack was born January 4, 1932 in Niles, Michigan during a decade of economic turmoil at home and political unrest in Europe. American families found inspiration from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats and continued to make a life for their children amid the hardships of the Great Depression. Such was the case for Irvin and Ethel (Tiffany) Nichols, who raised three children—Dave, Jack and Pat—in the Otsego/Plainwell area. Irvin supported the family as a meat cutter in Niles and eventually opened his own grocery store in Plainwell.
Jack grew up playing basketball, but in school he chose to run the mile in track and play in the band. Both were good choices because he lettered in track and met his future wife in band. Barbara and Jack had known one another since the 8th grade, but they only took an interest in each other on a band trip during their senior year. They began dating in April of 1949, and that spring Jack graduated from Plainwell High School and continued working in the family store as a meat cutter.
The love between Jack and Barbara grew into a commitment of heart and soul. They married on March 2, 1951 at First Baptist Church in Plainwell and felt called to Christian service later that same year. Jack had committed his life to following Jesus Christ at age 16, yet it was at age 19 that he and Barbara were moved by the message a missionary had spoken at their church. Jack then enrolled at Ft. Wayne Bible College while Barbara worked at GE and eventually trained as a nurse. She didn’t necessarily like nursing, but it was a way for women to serve in missions along with their husbands. Jack furthered his education at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, earning a degree in history and then a master’s from Wayne State University in Detroit. In earlier years, he had never seen himself as going on in his schooling, but Jack ended up teaching others his entire life and remained a lifelong learner in the areas of history, biology and the Bible.
While in Detroit, Jack and Barbara became parents with the birth of their first child, Julie. Sadly, they lost triplet girls before their daughter Sally was born. By then, the young family was serving in Haiti, and a year and a half later they entered language school in Costa Rica, where son Tom was born. In 1964, they moved to Puerto Rico and the children enjoyed a life of diverse experiences over the next 27 years as their parents ministered there. Jack and Barbara completed their mission work abroad when they served in Mexico but lived in Arizona teaching at the Nogales Baptist Seminary. In 1998, they retired to Plainwell, but their heart for ministry never languished. They went on conferences and short-term mission trips, and Jack served the church in Plainwell in various ways, including teaching Sunday school as he had done for years.
Retirement also meant that Jack had more time to spend with his family and do what gave him great joy. He was playful with his grandkids, played games, cards and dominos, worked in his yard and indulged in his favorite foods— Barbara’s mac and cheese and dark chocolate. Though he was the quiet, studious type, Jack’s family knew him to be competitive and a bit of a rascal at times. However, that only drew his wife, children and grandchildren closer to him with deep love and gratitude for a life well lived.
Jack Nichols, age 84, of Plainwell went home to be with the Lord on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 after suffering a stroke. Visit with his family and friends on Friday, June 10 from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Plainwell; 404 W. Bridge St. Plainwell, MI 49080. A funeral service will follow at 11:00 a.m. at the same location. Jack’s family includes his wife of 65 years, Barbara; his children: Julie (Shawn) Gotch, Sally Nichols, Tom (Mary) Nichols; foster son, Kenneth Maples; his sister Pat (Ralph) Taylor; and 9 grandchildren; as well as many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Dave. Please visit Jack’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can read his life story, archive a memory or photo and sign his memory book online. Those who wish may make a memorial donation to Nogales Baptist Seminary through Life Story Funeral Homes.