Leota H. Nichols
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Sunburst —Leota Halter Nichols, age 89, a retired music teacher, died on August 9, 2013, at the Marias Care Center in Shelby of natural causes.
The memorial mass will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, August 19, at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Sunburst. A vigil service is Sunday, August 18, at 7:00 pm. Whitted Funeral Chapel in Shelby is handling the arrangements.
Leota Halter Nichols was born in Yakima, WA, in 1924 to William and Iva (Leonard) Halter. Soon after her birth, however, her mother died. Subsequently, Leota and her identical twin sister, Leona, were taken to Montana to live with an aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. William Halter, who later adopted them.
Leota grew up and received her early schooling in Sunburst. After high school, she and her sister studied music at the University of Montana. While attending the University during World War II, she and her sister performed as a tap dance team to promote the sale of war savings bonds, traveling throughout the state. They also participated in variety shows for GI's receiving cadet training at the University, for troop trains passing through Montana, and for men stationed at several military installations.
During their college years, she and her sister also played in the University and Elk bands and traveled Montana for charitable and patriotic functions. They graduated in 1946 with bachelor's degrees in music.
Leota's first year of teaching was in Wallace, ID. Upon completion of that school year, she married Paul Francis Nichols and relocated to Miles City, MT. The couple later moved back to northern Montana where she was the Principal in the Sweet Grass school system, and then back home to Sunburst where she was an elementary school and music teacher until her retirement. She taught for a total of 31 years. She was a member of NEA, MEA, Delta Kappa Gamma, the VFW Auxiliary, Marias Medical Center Auxiliary and the Catholic Church.
She was passionate about music, giving piano lessons for most of her adult life. She was the Catholic Church organist at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Sunburst for over 30 years.
Leota was preceded in death by her husband, Paul, in 1997; her twin sister, Leona Burkett; and brothers, Vernon, Bus, and Robert Laurent.
She is survived by her two sons, Paul Nichols (Kathy) of Bellevue, NE, and Steve Nichols (Elda) of Shelby, MT; grandsons, Bryan Nichols (Brandi), Cole Nichols, Craig Nichols (Briana), Brendan Nichols (Emily), and Bryce Nichols; and great-grandsons Blake and Brook Nichols of Bellevue, Nebraska. Additional survivors include her brother-in-law Robert Burkett of Boise, ID, and sister-in-law Betty Grace Kalfell (Dave) of Dallas, OR; as well as many nieces and nephews.
Music was a great part of her life and time for reading became a special gift. She dearly loved her family and grandchildren and enjoyed attending their many functions. She will be dearly missed.
Memorials may be given to St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Sunburst and condolences may be posted at www.whittedfuneralchapel.com.
Whitted Funeral Chapel - Shelby
225 Sixth Ave South P.O. Box 721 Shelby, MT 59474
Published in Great Falls Tribune on Aug. 15, 2013