Robert Merton Nichols was born May 27, 1926, at home in Moorheadville, Harbor Creek Township, Pennsylvania, the son of Emmett and Agnes (Moorhead) Nichols. He graduated from Harbor Creek Central High School in 1944, a year early, in order to enlist in the United States Navy. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Pacific Fleet aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Gilbert Islands (CVE-107), attaining the rating of Boatswain's Mate Third Class. After the war, he attended Edinboro State Teachers College (now Edinboro University of Pennsylvania). Recalled during the Korean War, Robert participated in the recommissioning of the U.S.S. Tarawa (CV-40). Robert was predeceased by his beloved wife of 32 years, Rose (Simonian) Nichols, in 1999, and by two brothers (James Nichols and Harvey Nichols) and two sisters (Ellen Baybrook and Mary Turner). He is survived by a son, James E. Nieder II (Karen Wurst); four daughters: Deborah L. Nichols (Bill Helwig), Kathleen M. Nichols (Van Jacobson), Natalie Nichols (Don Waller), and Samantha Nichols (Ed Helenski); three grandchildren: Geneva (Niederwurst) Crowley (John), Tevis Nichols, and Amanda Nichols; and one great-grandchild, Kaitlyn Crowley. He is also survived by his special friend, Violet Peter, of Louisville, Ky. For more than 25 years, Robert owned and operated Seneca Mineral Co., Inc., providing dust control and de-icing services to townships throughout Northwestern Pennsylvania. After his retirement, Robert and Rose built a house in Leesburg, Florida, spending the colder months there but returning to Erie County during the summers. Robert was an active, sympathetic man with a questioning mind and a lively sense of humor. He valued friendship and sociability, belonging at different times to the University Club, the Erie Maennerchor Club, Lawrence Park Golf Club, and Lake View Country Club. Robert and his son Jim relished their long-standing friendly competition at the game of golf, which he also enjoyed playing with his good friend Bob Martin. Robert's many hobbies included boating, reconditioning vintage Ford Mustangs, and building model ships and cars. He loved to travel, taking his family on regular driving vacations to many parts of the U.S. as well as Canada. In his retirement years, he attended and helped organize ship's reunions with crew members from the U.S.S. Gilbert Islands. Robert was a member of the Presbyterian Church of Harbor Creek, Pa. In Florida, he attended the Presbyterian Community Church in Howey-in-the-Hills. Robert loved dogs since boyhood and had many canine companions over the years. He is survived by Boots, one of several miniature German Schnauzers he owned. After a courageous struggle of several months with multiple medical conditions, Robert passed peacefully from this life on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2012. Donations in memory of Robert M. Nichols may be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children - Erie (http://www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/en/Hospitals/Locations/Erie.aspx) or Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwestern Pennsylvania (http://www.eriefoodbank.org/). The family will observe a private celebration of Robert's life. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the William D. Elkin Funeral Home, 65 South Lake Street, North East. Please send condolences to www.elkinfh.com
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Published in the Erie Times-News on Nov. 28, 2012