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H. Wayne Nichols passed away on July 19, 2013, at the age of 83 at Wuesthoff Hospice House after a lengthy battle with lung cancer. He was born in the Huntsville, Alabama area on December 16, 1929 to parents, Grady and Lessie Nichols.
He is survived by his loving wife of over fifty years, Gail Miller Nichols; and his adored daughters, Sharon Nichols Siomiak (Joseph) of St. Petersburg, FL and Nancy Nichols Karcher (Jeffrey) of Marietta, GA. He is also survived by three grandsons, Tanner Austin Norris, Jensen Miller Norris of Marietta, GA and Joseph Anthony Siomiak, III, of St. Petersburg, FL. He also had four step-grandchildren.
Wayne graduated from Huntsville High School in 1947, attended Tennessee Tech from 1947-1949, and completed his education at the University of North Alabama in 1951. Shortly thereafter, he accepted employment as a contract administrator with Vitro Corporation in Sheffield, Alabama, where he continued until he surrendered to his strong desire to explore California and the western states. On a bare bones budget, he drove to California and accepted a job as a subcontract negotiator and administrator with Douglas Aircraft, El Segundo, on the A3D and A4D fighter bomber aircraft. He enjoyed his responsibilities and loved the west, but illness in his immediate family necessitated that he return to Huntsville. When time permitted, he accepted a procurement position with Peter Kiewitt & Sons, near Portsmouth, Ohio, prime contractor on the 2nd largest (at the time) nuclear facility in the country.
Wayne began his 35 year civil service career at Brookley Air Force Base, Mobile Alabama, in 1955. He transferred to the Army Rocket and Guided Missile Agency in Huntsville, where his responsibilities included management of contracts for anti-tank missile systems and ground support equipment, including TOW, Shillelagh and SS10/SS11 anti-tank missile programs. In 1962, he began his employment at Marshall Space Flight Center under the direction of PHD, Werner Von Braun. In his role at MSFC, his responsibilities included negotiation and management of engine contracts for the Gemini and Apollo programs and contracts for Skylab components including the Orbital Workshop, Airlock, Instrumentation Unit and associated flight experiments.
In 1976, he accepted employment at Kennedy Space Center with responsibility for the negotiations and administration of the first KSC contract for test, launch and operations of the Shuttle Orbiter Vehicle. His responsibilities were expanded to Chief of the Shuttle Launch and Processing Systems Section and later to Chief of the Space Transportations Systems (STS) Contracts Branch. For the last several years preceding his retirement, he was Chief of Shuttle Processing and Support Contracts (SPC) for KSC and the Air Force at Vandenberg AFB California. Management responsibilities also included engineering support and orbiter logistics contracts, as well as oversight and control of government property and facilities used by KSC contractors.
Wayne received performance awards from USAF (Vandenberg), MSFC and KSC. Awards at KSC included the prestigious Exceptional Service Medal, Outstanding Performance Award, Sustained Superior Performance Awards and Superior Achievement Awards in addition to several awards and certificates of appreciation. He ended his civil service career which extended over 35 years, upon retirement from KSC on November 30, 1990.
After retirement from KSC, Wayne established his own small business consulting firm, which he continued for approximately two years before accepting employment with Lockheed Corp. He worked in the Program Office at KSC and was assigned to a small task group responsible for formulating and implementing joint ventures between Lockheed and Rockwell, United Space Alliance to manage the Shuttle Program. He served in a staff position in Houston until he retired in December 1999.
Wayne was an avid sports fan including the Tampa Bay Bucs, the Orlando Magic and especially the Alabama Crimson Tide which his loyal support began when he attended his first game at the age of seven. He held a high esteem for the admired Bear Bryant.
Wayne was previously affiliated with the National Contract Management Association, Retired Federal Employees Association and the Elks Lodge of Huntsville, Alabama. He was a member of Suntree United Methodist Church.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 A.M. on Thursday, July 25, 2013 at Suntree United Methodist Church, 7400 N. Wickham Road, Melbourne, FL.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in memory of H. Wayne Nichols to Wuestoff Hospice House, 8060 Spyglass Hill Road, Viera, FL 32940.
Published in FLORIDA TODAY on July 23, 2013