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Alexander Nichols

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Alexander Nichols Obituary
Alexander V. Nichols

October 9, 1924 - March 9, 2015

Professor Emeritus Alexander Vladimir Nichols, Ph.D. of the University of California at Berkeley, passed away at home surrounded by his family after a long battle with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS).

Alex was a professor of Biophysics who studied heart disease (cholesterol and lipoproteins) with his mentor John Gofman and Frank Lindgren at Donner Laboratory. Working at Cal for more than forty years, Dr. Nichols retained his passion for science during his entire life. Long after his retirement, Alex continued to follow research in his field and others.

Dr. Nichols served on the National Institute of Health's Lipid Metabolism Advisory Committee as well as their Heart, Lung, and Blood Research Review Committee from 1981-1984. In 1989, the University of California Department of Health and Medical Sciences recognized Professor Nichols for his outstanding teaching in the basic sciences.

Born in San Francisco to Russian immigrant parents Maria and Vladimir Nichols, Alex spoke Russian as a child at home and remained fluent throughout his life. He attended Dudley Stone Grammar and Lowell High School. He spent a year at UC Berkeley before his service in the Army Air Force during WWII, stationed in Trinidad. Returning to Berkeley, he studied Physics as an undergraduate and earned his doctorate in Biophysics in 1956.

In 1955, he fell in love with the girl next door, professional dancer Sally Streets, of New York City Ballet. After her retirement from the stage, they married and raised their children Robert, Kyra, and Alex, Jr. in Kensington. Alex was a loving husband and father with a great sense of humor, delighting in hiking and camping with his children. An avid walker, Dr. Nichols was often seen exploring the hills of Berkeley.

All three of his children became artists: Robbie a choreographer, Kyra a ballerina, and Alex Jr. a stage designer. As a result, Dr. Nichols developed a great interest in the arts and became a generous patron.

Alex is survived by his wife Sally, of Kensington, his daughter Kyra Nichols (David Gray) of Princeton, NJ, his son Alex Jr. (Sonya Delwaide), of Berkeley, daughter-in-law Madison Nichols, of Tomales, and grandchildren Joseph, Cameron, and Isabel. He was preceded in death by his eldest son Robert.

A private family ceremony will take place later in the spring. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Comprehensive Cancer Center: Sutter Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, 2001 Dwight Way, Berkeley 94704.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Mar. 13, 2015
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