Thomas Nicholas

July 16, 1952 - May 10, 2016
Grand Rapids, MI



Sunday, May 15, 2016
2:00 PM to 6:00 PM EDT
Brann's Steakhouse
4157 Division Avenue South
Grand Rapids, MI 49548

Life Story / Obituary


Thomas Keith Nicholas was a man who lived on his own terms. Firm in his opinions, Tom could be stubborn and outspoken, yet anyone could tell him anything and he’d listen intently and offer advice. Born in Franklin, Indiana on July 16, 1952, Tom was the son of Lee and Florence (Batton) Nicholas. The middle of three boys, he grew up alongside his older brother, Jerry and younger brother, Bob in East Grand Rapids after moving to Michigan for his father’s work.

A good kid, Tom enjoyed the adventures of childhood yet he found he share of mischief, too. He attended the local schools and learned much from his time as a Boy Scout. Tom always loved the outdoors and enjoyed hunting rabbits and frogs. Tom hung around with a small group of friends and from a young age he came to love music, especially the Beatles. Mainly self-taught, he learned to play the guitar and throughout high school and beyond he played in several bands including, The Eclectics, Sound Federation, and the Slug City Alfalfa Band. He was particularly proud of an album he recorded, Yellow Stucco House. Music became Tom’s passion and he used his great singing voice and talents through these endeavors.

In high school, Tom began working at a supermarket and eventually spent his career in the grocery business. He caddied for a brief time at a local golf course, but it wasn’t something he enjoyed. He also took some classes at the community college. While a young adult, Tom’s home was a busy gathering place for friends. It was also the site of several epic Fourth of July pig roasts. Tom was an excellent cook, liked trying new things, and he loved having people over for delicious dinners. He had a passion for fresh vegetables and produce, and he even had a garden in his backyard which perhaps he learned from his grandfather.

Tom worked in the produce department at several grocery stores including Eberhard’s, Forest Hills Foods, Duthler Foods, and Great Day, and did so for over 20 years. It was through work when Tom met Debra Hayes. Although briefly married, Tom was forever grateful for their daughter, Heather. On their regular visits they shared many adventures and special times together, forming a lasting bond.

After serving as a produce manager for several stores, Tom successfully went into business for himself. For the last ten years, he worked as an independent distributor for Pepperidge Farm breads. Tom was a very hard worker who began nearly every work day hours before dawn. He kept an immaculate, clean home, and he was well organized, especially with his eclectic collection of music. At home, Tom liked watching the Travel Channel and Food Network as well as action and adventure movies. A creature of habit, he enjoyed reading the newspaper and liked keeping up with the latest news. From weather, stocks, local and world news, Tom was a treasure of sometimes useless information. He took an interest in astronomy, and was great at trivia. Tom was the perfect person to call if anyone needed to “phone a friend”!

Tom loved and appreciated everything about the outdoors. He liked hunting, especially morel mushrooms. Despite themselves, he remained a true Detroit Lions fan. One of Tom’s favorite things to do was going on daily “cigar drives” on country roads, and he loved a good cigar. Tom also had a love for travel and enjoyed several trips with Heather.

Through his life and work, Tom was a friend of many and a stranger to none. Although very stubborn and there was no swaying his opinions, he had a good sense of humor. Tom always meant well, yet his hardheaded nature got the best of him at times. Determined to live life on his own terms, Tom spent the last few years suffering from several health issues. One of a kind, he will be deeply missed and forever remembered by those who knew and loved him best.

Thomas Keith Nicholas died unexpectedly at home on May 10, 2016 after struggling with various health issues. He was 63. He was preceded in death by his father and his older brother, Jerry. He dearly loved his daughter, Heather and especially enjoyed vacationing with her to places like Cancun and Las Vegas. He also had a special place in his heart for his “adopted” daughters, Lisa, Sara Michael and Sara (deceased), and his best friend, Joe Brizzolara. There will be a time to visit with his family on Sunday, May 15 from 2-6 at Branns Steakhouse at 4157 Division Avenue S, 49548.