Valdosta Daily Times

February 8, 2013

Richard Ernest Nicholas


The Valdosta Daily Times

-- — Richard Ernest Nicholas, 98, of Valdosta died on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 at Holly Hill Nursing Home following a lengthy illness. He was born on Dec. 2, 1914 in Camden, N.J. to the late Ernest and Lucille Robinson Nicholas. From an early age his interest was in flying and that became his career for 47 years. He was already a licensed pilot instructor when WWII began. He flew with Pan America Air Ferries for a short time before entering the U.S. Army Air Corps, entering as a First Lieutenant in 1942. He flew multi-engine aircraft to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India and South America delivering both planes and crews. He attained the rank of Major by war’s end.  Afterward, he flew for a variety of airlines making trips to many countries around the world, even Australia. Flying was a vital part of his life. As an admirer of Lindberg, he decided to imitate Lindy’s first flight over the Atlantic in a single engine airplane. And Nick did this at least twice, delivering planes to the Middle East, once getting caught in an Israeli-Arab war that caused him to have to fly over the Sahara to get to Nairobi. Most of his flying was done from Miami where he lived with his wife, Elsie Goodson Nicholas; they both made trips to South and Central America, and to Europe.  

In addition to his wife of 62 years, Mr. Nichols leaves two daughters, Eileen G. Decker and Patricia A. Snape both of Ft. Myers, Fla.; two sons and daughters-in-law, Steven R. and Carol Nicholas of Audubon, Pennsylvania, and David L. and Connie Nicholas of Hilliard, Florida; grandchildren and their spouses, Amber and John Bovinette of Callahan, Fla., Dawn Geist of Ft. Myers, Fla., Lisa Lee, Sean and Meredith Snape of Little Rock, Ark., and Rick and Cheryl Nicholas of Audubon, Pa.; great-grandchildren, James Lee, Alyssa Ellis, David Giese, Eliana Bovinette, Sterling Sawyer, Sydney Sawyer, Savannah Sawyer, and Saxton Snape.

Mr. Nicholas moved to Valdosta in 1980 with his wife Elsie, who was from Valdosta, and became actively involved with the Valdosta Soup Kitchen which began on Johnson Street. He worked actively with helping feed the needy in the city and county, delivering food to Hahira, Adel, Morven, and wherever needed. He was an active member of First Baptist Church helping with their Hispanic Mission by teaching English and delivering food. He enjoyed photography and every Sunday he could be found taking photos of the flowers in the sanctuary of the church so he could give copies to those who had provided them. How he loved helping others. All of Nick’s children showed an interest in flying; grandson Sean is a pilot for Southwest Airlines; son David owned his own plane, worked as a controller for the FAA; daughter Eileen and her husband had a hot air balloon, and Patricia and Steve both got a pilot’s license. And now Richard E. Nicholas has departed this life, 98 years old and leaving many, many happy memories.

Services for Richard Nicholas will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 at the graveside in the Sunset Hill Cemetery with Dr. Phil West and the Rev. Mac Weaver officiating.  The family will receive friends beginning at 10 a.m. at the Carson McLane Funeral Home. Condolences to the family may be conveyed online at www.mclanecares.com. — Carson McLane Funeral Home