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Veteran led full life with family, business, sports

| Monday, July 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Theodore E. Nichols, 82, of Gibsonia and West Palm Beach, Fla., died July 12, 2013.

During the birth of a grandchild, a big game or a beloved granddaughter's long-awaited wedding, Ted Nichols never lacked in personality or entertainment.

Theodore E. Nichols of Gibsonia died Friday, July 12, 2013, in Good Samaritan Hospice in Pine. He was 82.

“He raised four daughters, so he could be strict,” said Beth Nichols of Franklin Park, his youngest. “But he was also so loving and giving. If we had a question or a problem, or just needed advice, we bounced our ideas off Dad. He always had our back.”

Once a year, he'd relinquish Steelers season tickets — prized since the days at Pitt Stadium — for a girls-only game. When his brood grew up, their boyfriends each asked permission to marry them.

“I guess that's old-fashioned, but it never seemed strange to us,” Beth Nichols said. “That was just Dad.”

His wife, Jacqueline, met him 56 years ago outside the secretary pool in Koppers Inc. She toured the country with him, often seeing him off for golf trips to Florida, Arizona and South Carolina. He shot a hole-in-one in 1998. A few months ago, he celebrated a score of 82.

“I shot my age,” he told his girls. “I shot my age!”

Cynthia Dixon of Mars, his eldest, remembers his last days, often hazy and full of sleep. His daughters and a dozen grandchildren flooded in with Wednesday's torrential rains. When a double rainbow sprouted over the eastern sky, he sat up, lucid and grateful.

“I asked him everything,” she said. “His favorite song, his favorite bird, his favorite time of day. Did he prefer the beach or mountains? Rain or sun? All those things you don't think to ask when everyone's healthy and OK. And there he is, smiling at us and saying thank you for coming.”

He was “such a huge man,” Dixon said, with a lot he wanted to hang on to.

Mr. Nichols was the owner and president of T.E. Nichols Co. in Cranberry. A Korean War veteran, he served in the Air Force as a sergeant and was a member of the American Legion. He was a lifelong Mason and an active member of First Presbyterian Church of Bakerstown and Royal Poinciana Chapel in Palm Beach, Fla.

In addition to his wife and daughters, Mr. Nichols is survived by his two middle children, Penny Nichols of Marietta, Ga., and Marlene Drolet of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; eight grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and three brothers, John Nichols of Ross, Ronald Nichols of Evans City and Richard Nichols of Cranberry.

Friends will be received from 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in Kyper Funeral Home, 2702 Mt. Royal Blvd., Glenshaw, including a Masonic ceremony at 7:30 p.m. A funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the funeral home chapel, with interment with military honors in Mt. Royal Cemetery in Shaler.

Megan Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5815 or mharris@tribweb.com.

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