Robert Earl "Bob" Nichols, 85, a lifelong resident of Montana (Stevensville, Hamilton, Anaconda, Deer Lodge, Townsend, and Bozeman), died peacefully at Gallatin Rest Home on Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012. Bob was born Dec. 3, 1926 in Stevensville, Mont. to Charles N. Nichols and Lucille Goodboe Nichols. Bob attended school in Stevensville and worked at local farming and mechanic jobs in the Bitterroot Valley. He loved fishing the Bitterroot River with his father and brothers and camping and hunting in the mountains he knew well.
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Bob met his life-long companion and spouse, Naomi Robinson, just before World War II broke out and Bob did not hesitate to enlist in the Navy to serve and defend his country. Bob was assigned to the U.S.S. Vincennes CL-64 (Seaman First Class), where he operated the big six-inch artillery guns in support of larger carriers throughout the Pacific, off the coast of Japan, and a successful mission at Okinawa. Bob and Naomi married near the end of the war (Valentine's Day 1946), and lived in the Missoula area where he worked in the logging industry (sawmills and logging companies) and later in the mining industry (local phosphate and copper mines) as a mechanic and underground miner. During his time with the Anaconda Company in Anaconda ("The Hill"), Bob was a truck mechanic and he received training to aid in underwater search and recovery work in Montana waters, a dangerous and often very difficult job. Bob never shied from hard work, including a job in Tulle, Greenland at a U.S. surveillance base during mining strikes in Montana.
Bob was known for his big smile and big wave, always pleasant toward others he met. He loved the outdoors, camping, fishing, hunting and gathering firewood, mushrooms, and diamond willow for his wood carving. He enjoyed watching and feeding birds at his home. Always greeting others with a big smile and sincere warm welcome, Bob will be missed by all who knew him, loved him and cared for him in his final days.
Bob Nichols is survived by his wife, Naomi Mae Nichols of Bozeman; his children, Linda (Ray) Risley of Lemont, Ill, Terri (Al) Stifanick of Tensed, Idaho, Toni (Mike) Atwood of Bozeman, Rea (Rebecca) Nichols of Canyon Ferry, Mont./Alaska; brother, Gerald (Hiroko) Nichols of Alberton, Mont.; and nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Bob is preceded in death by his parents, one brother, two sisters and his grandson, Sheldon Sainz.
A small family memorial will take place at a later date. Memorial donations may be given to the Montana Military Vehicle Club (www.mmvc.org), 295 Sierra Drive, Bozeman, MT 59718.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service, www.dokkennelson.com.
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Aug. 8, 2012