- About Us
James "Nick" Henry NicholsAugust 1, 1923 ~ February 17, 2017 (age 93)
James “Call Me Nick” Nichols
Ironically, for a man known for having such a big heart, it was his heart that finally failed him. Nick was known by many, many Islanders as “Old Nick” or simply the “Tea Man.” He moved to Vashon in 2003 with his daughter and son-in-law, and immediately started walking down Vashon Highway almost daily from his home on 188th to town. During his walks, he developed relationships with a large number of Vashonites (and their dogs). He had the gift of making fast friends, collecting the addresses of everyone he met. He would listen carefully to find out what was important to his many friends, then send them news articles or even magazine subscriptions to complement those interests.
And then there’s the tea.
Besides keeping a pocketful of Stash teabags to give to those he encountered (along with dog biscuits for his furry friends) he would also mail teabags in all his correspondence with a note to “Join me for a cup of tea.” At Christmastime, many would also receive gift boxes of oranges or grapefruit shipped from South Texas.
Before coming to love Vashon, Nick was a proud Texan, born in the small East Texas town of Winnsboro, in a close-knit community of Irish and Scots-Irish. While still very young, he and his Mother moved to Dallas, where he attended Woodrow Wilson High School.
Shortly after graduation, he went to work at Sears Roebuck, where he met and fell in love with Billie Lide Moore. They married in 1944, shortly before he was sent to Army Air Force boot camp. Nick was then sent to Burma as a radio operator.
After the war, he attended SMU on the G.I. bill, earning his Bachelor of Business Administration in 1956, while working full time and raising a young family.
During his long career in management he worked at Stanley Tools, Levi Strauss (which led to him being made an honorary Kentucky Colonel) and Red Arrow Freight Lines, where he rose from Terminal Manager to Vice President.
He reduced his workload in the late 80s and started working with Merchant’s Freight Lines in Dallas, as a sales mentor to the truck drivers, writing a monthly column called “A Nichols’ Worth” that commented on much more than sales, covering such life enhancing wisdom such as literacy.
Reading and knowledge was a lifelong passion for Nick. After moving to Vashon, a former Dallas neighbor who was a teacher enlisted him to be a pen pal with her First Grade reading class. Four or five times a year, for ten years, the kids would each write a note to “Mr. Nick.” He would then write each student a personal response, sent with candy and small toys.
Finally, he dearly loved sports. Playing basketball and baseball in his youth and avidly following them on radio and then T.V. until the end of his life. Unfortunately, he didn’t live to see his Alma Mater SMU, beloved Duke and newly admired Gonzaga teams all make it into March Madness this year.
He passed away surrounded by the love of his family. Nick is survived by his son and daughter, David and Lisa; his granddaughter Shawna Renee and his grandson Trevor.
Anyone and everyone who knew him is invited to our “Celebration of Nick’s Life”, on April 23, from 1 to 5 p.m., at 10524 S.W. 188th St. on Vashon. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in his name to Vashon Island Pet Protectors to support the dogs and cats that he cherished.