NICHOLS, Keith Eugene

NICHOLS, Keith Eugene, 75, of Indian Trail, NC, and formerly of Mt. Pleasant, OH, died on April 12, 2014, at his home in North Carolina.

Keith was born on February 25, 1939 in Adena, OH, the son of Lawrence and Helen Bell Nichols.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a sister, Shirley Miller Nichols; and a brother, Lawrence Nichols.

He is survived by his wife, Virginia Dillon Nichols; daughters, Lori Nichols (Kevin) Paulus and Heidi Nichols; and granddaughter, Madeleine Paulus. He is also survived by his brothers, Martin, James, and Richard Nichols; sisters, Anna Nichols Lewis and Edythe Nichols Elerick; and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Keith graduated from Mt. Pleasant High School in 1957, earned his undergraduate degree in History from Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, and graduate degrees from American University (Public Administration) and Ohio University (Special Education).

Keith served 30 years on active duty with the United States Navy and the United States Coast Guard. He joined the United States Naval Reserve during his junior year in high school and completed Recruit Training at Great Lakes Naval Station the summer before his senior year of high school. After graduation from high school, he went on active duty and served three years in Saudi Arabia and Rhode Island. He separated from the Navy in 1960 and worked two years at Bellaire Garment while attending the Ohio University branch at Martins Ferry High School.

He enlisted in the United States Coast Guard in 1963 and was selected for Officer’s Candidate School in 1967, subsequently commissioned as an Ensign.

After commissioning, he attended flight school in Pensacola and became a pilot of fixed-wing aircraft. A few years later, he once again attended flight school and became a helicopter pilot, serving as a search and rescue pilot at several duty stations. Aviation was his passion. He ended his military career after a three-year tour of duty in Honolulu, Hawaii and retired in 1987 with the rank of Commander. His Coast Guard duty stations included Honolulu, Hawaii; Washington, DC; Governors Island, New York City; Aguadilla, Puerto Rico; Corpus Christi, Texas; Mobile, Alabama; and Baltimore, Maryland.

Keith took pride in his distinguished service with the Navy and Coast Guard. His favorite quote about military service was from a speech by President Kennedy at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1963: “Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy’.”

After retirement from the Coast Guard and completion of a graduate degree in Special Education from Ohio University, Keith began a new career as a special education teacher with the Wade Hampton School District in Hampton, South Carolina. Over the next 16 years he shared his varied life experiences and positive attitude with his students, both inside and outside the classroom. Among his many contributions to the high school, he secured funding for an HF and VHF ham radio station at Wade Hampton, passing on his own lifelong enthusiasm for amateur radio. His final call sign is nh6cq.

Keith was very dedicated to genealogy research and was able to document ancestors who arrived in the United States before the Revolutionary War and served on the American side of the war. In recent years he located and met many new extended family members throughout the United States, finding great enjoyment in sharing information with them.

Friends will be received to remember Keith and celebrate his life on Thursday, April 17, 2014 from 6 -8 p.m., and on Friday, April 18, 2014 at 10 a.m.

Funeral services will be conducted on Friday, April 18, 2014 at 11 a.m. at Sardis Baptist Church, 3602 Unionville-Indian Trail Rd., Indian Trail, NC, with Pastor Kenn Hucks

Interment will follow the funeral services at Price Cemetery, Friendly Baptist Church Rd., Indian Trail, NC.

Personal condolences may be offered to the family at www.heritagecares. net.

In lieu of flowers, Keith suggests that donations in support of Coast Guard families be made to Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, U.S. Coast Guard Mailstop 7180, 4200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 610, Arlington, VA 20598-7180.

Semper Paratus!