By Bill Oliver
Don had a lengthy military career that spanned approximately 30 years. He served his country well. He had three loves in his life: i) his family which included, wife Vivian, Don Jr. and daughter, April; ii) the PERI trade; and iii) fastball.
Don started out with the RCR as an infantry soldier during the 1960s. He served mostly in London; Germany and had a tour in Cyprus. When he had a chance to remuster to PERI, he jumped at it. His postings as a PERI included: Cornwallis; Trenton; Greenwood; Cold Lake; Suffield; and Chilliwack.
Although he came from a combat arms background, Don typified the old school RCAF Recreation Specialist. He was skilled at a number of sports; strong swimmer; so / so on the gym floor and ranked with the very best “scroungers” on every Base in which he served. He was always popular with his colleagues; and highly respected at all rank levels Corporals to Colonels interacted with him at the same easy going pace. .
Don was the consummate family man. He and Vivian were both very active and supportive in both the Jr. Ranks Mess and later in the Sgts & WOs. He could be accused of “doting” on Don Jr. – especially when he was telling everyone within listening distance about “what a great hockey player his son was”….As it turned out, he didn’t exaggerate too much. Jr. turned out to be an All Star in the very highly competitive B.C. Junior “A” league and he turned professional and plays in a Pro league in Holland. As a matter of fact, Don & Vivian had just recently returned home from a visit in Holland, a few days before the untimely accident which took his life. When Don was not talking about Jr. - the conversation invariably moved to the “apple of his eye”, April, and how proud he was of her. Friends would often remind “the proud papa” that hey, Sgt., we have to get back to work.
A close third in his loves was fastball. In his CF sports prime which spanned all of the 1970s and the early part of the ‘80s he was arguably ranked with the two or three best pitchers in the Canadian Forces. He was not always fortunate to be at locations with teams that were deep in talent. Consequently, he often found himself just missing out on winning the championship game. Ball players from that era were indeed aware and in unanimous agreement that Donnie Nichols was one of the very best! Photo of Don Pitching
Donnie left this world prematurely as a result of a car accident in which he was a passenger. He is remembered mainly as a highly respected family man; a dependable friend; and a real good guy to both work and to play ball with.