Former First Lady of Kilgore Nina Fern Nichols died Wednesday, August 8, at age 89.
The lifelong Kilgore resident was deeply involved in the community, serving local organizations for decades. In addition to being honored as First Lady of Kilgore in 1999 by the Beta Sigma Phi organization, Nichols was also a member of Laird Hospital Foundation and Kilgore Historical Preservation Society. She was a member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church for 77 years.
Jo Hancock, a close friend of Nichols, reflected on the many years they shared together in community organizations.
“I met Nina in 1956. We joined the Methodist church at that time. We became very close friends. She and Bobby, her husband, baby-sat for our oldest son,” Hancock said. “I worked with her at the church and we were very close in our social life.”
Hancock said she and Nichols played bridge together once a month in a group formed over 50 years ago.
Nichols was a leader, Hancock said. “She was always in charge. Most of us in the community, what Nina told us, we tried to do.”
Hancock also shared a memory about Nichols’ dedication and strong work ethic.
“I don’t know that people in the community are aware of this but Nina was in charge of a rural Gregg County water company that her sister started. She was the treasurer and kept those books at her home until she retired which was older than most people retire. She did that at night. She never turned anybody down when they asked her to do community projects and she would do those books at night.”
In addition to being a leader in the community, Hancock said Nichols would take on multiple tasks when volunteering, especially at church.
“She was over the worship committee and in charge of the kitchen and the decorating and all the social activities,” Hancock said before adding Nichols always had a high regard for young people and local youth had a big impact on her life.
Nichols was born April 9, 1929 to Lottie Lee and Oscar Dickerson. She was preceded in death by her parents, husband and by six older brothers and sisters, who were known to say she was always spoiled and never had to do chores as a child. She lived at home until age 22 when she moved out to live with her new husband Bobby.
Nichols spent her final years at Arbor Grace nursing home, where she was said to dress impeccably and wear pearls every day. In her obituary, Nichols’ family extends thanks to her close friends – friends she was close to all through her life and who remained close to her until her passing.
Donations can be made in Nichols’ memory to the Kilgore Historical Preservation Foundation, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church organ fund and the Texas Shakespeare Festival Foundation.