(Samuel) Fletcher Nichols was born April 6, 1923, in Lewis. He passed into the arms of Jesus on Oct. 22, 2016, in Atlantic, at the age of 93.
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At age 8, Fletcher moved to the farm on south Chestnut where he lived until he retired at age 72. He graduated from Lewis High School and completed an agricultural short-course at Iowa State University. He also served in the army in WWII. He then took up farming on the Nichols homestead five miles south of Atlantic, raising Landrace hogs and Milking Shorthorn cattle. Chestnut Hill farm was recognized as a century farm in 1991. Fletcher's cattle received a number of honors, including Iowa State Fair Milking Shorthorn Champion in 1972, '74, '76, and '78 and National Grand Champion in 1974 and 1976.
When he was 29, Fletcher married Avonell Blank, a Home Economics teacher in Atlantic, on June 8, 1952. They raised eight children: Jane (Craig) Becker from Atlantic, Jill (Randy) Euken from Lewis, Dick (Cindy) Nichols from Lewis, Shirley (Craig) Moore from Lincoln, Neb., Sherry (Mike) Maakestad from Pella, Amy (Dave) Jensen from Parker, Colo., Allison (Tom) Greenwald from Ames, and Bill (Linda) Nichols from Atlantic. He loved to refer to his family as "two and a half dozen" because it included two boys and a half dozen girls. The children helped milk the cows morning and night, until the last one left home in 1983. Fletcher was determined that his children would learn to do two things he couldn't do--swim and read music--and he and Avonell encouraged their children to develop gifts in athletics, music and scholastics.
Fletcher was a loving grandfather to 26 grandchildren, 13 boys and 13 girls: John (Abby) Becker, CoraLynn (Matt) Trewet, Jacqui (Eric) Fatka, Crystal (Ben) Bobier, Bret (Katie) Euken, Michelle Euken (fiancé Steve Myers), Sam (Bethany) Nichols, Caroline (Patrick) Kolts, Christina Nichols, James (Carly) Nichols, Scot (Amy) Moore, Sarah (Santiago) Cal, Heidi Moore, Hannah (Bobby) Collins, Kirsten Maakestad, Sarah Maakestad, Amanda Jensen, Cole Jensen, Dane Jensen, Anna (Nate) Towne, Miles (Emily) Greenwald, Vince (Caroline) Greenwald, Rich Nichols, Rob (Olivia) Nichols, and Reid Nichols. Fletcher loved kids, "the younger the better." At the time of his death, he was also great-grandfather to 18.
After Avonell passed away in September of 1992, Fletcher lived alone in the big house on Chestnut Hill. Through their daughters, Fletcher met Colleen Wahlert, a widow from Exira, in 1994. Fletcher and Colleen were married on June 11, 1995, and moved to Atlantic. For 21 years, their home on Lincoln Drive at the edge of Atlantic was a gathering spot for many family get-togethers. Fletcher's marriage to Colleen was a blessing to him, as well as his children and grandchildren. In March of 2013, Fletcher moved to the Heritage House in Atlantic.
Fletcher was an active member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, teaching Sunday school for all ages; from adults to kindergarteners. He loved to visit with newcomers and old friends. He was a charter member of the Atlantic/Audubon Gideon camp, and was active in Farm Bureau and 4-H. Fletcher never learned to like to drink coffee, but in his later years he loved his Friday morning coffee gatherings at the Farmer's Kitchen.
Fletcher was the oldest child of Ralph and Cora Nichols. His siblings included Shirley Enright (deceased), twin brothers Dick and Ted (deceased) and Mary Fulton (deceased). He was also preceded in death by grandson William Nichols and infant great-grandson Isaac Nichols.
Visitation with the family will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 24 at St. Paul's Lutheran Church.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 25 at St. Paul's Lutheran Church. Burial with military honors will be in the Atlantic Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Gideon's and St. Paul's Lutheran Church.
Roland Funeral Service is caring for Fletcher's family and his arrangements. Condolences may be left at www.rolandfuneralservice.com
Roland Funeral Services
204 E 5th St
Atlantic, IA 50022
Published in Atlantic News Telegraph on Oct. 23, 2016