Anyone who ever had the pleasure of meeting Nick Nicholson could attest to his noble character, wry sense of humor, and uncanny ability to fix things. Undoubtedly, there was a larger than life element to his existence that could not be contained in a single name, so he had several: Raymond Dale, Sonny, Nick, R.D., Daddy, and Pawpaw. Born near Sundown in 1936, the second child of Eunice Mae Simpson and George Fail Nicholson, he grew up in Levelland and on the farmland his father rented near Petit. Early in life, Nick's desire to see the rest of the world took hold and he found a way to make it to visit his aunts and uncles in Snyder and San Antonio. The summers with his beloved aunt Leona and uncle Lester were revisited many times in the stories he told his children that included capturing baby alligators outside of the San Antonio zoo, paying a dollar to box a round against a kangaroo (the kangaroo won), his first job as a cowboy at a ''ranch'' that turned out to be a dairy farm, and brief stint working on a shrimp boat out of Corpus that involved a great deal of seasickness and a life lesson about equality.
In his teenage years, his adventures began to take him further away from Levelland. He traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada before the strip was built and encountered mosquitoes of an unholy size in the swamps of Louisiana before hitting upon the idea of seeking bigger ranches and maybe even panning for gold so he turned his attentions northward. His enterprising travel plans relied on hitchhiking and rodeo prizes and his skills riding bucking horses got him as far as Wyoming where a broken thumb led to a detour. Following the advice of a friend who heard about a Montana ''dude ranch'' in need of some real Texans, Nick took a job in Glacier Park, just a few miles from the Great Northern Railroad's famous Glacier Park Lodge. It was there that he met Dorothy Diane Olson, the daughter of the hotel's purchasing agent who worked for the railroad. Dorothy grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, but spent her summers at the park and their courtship revolved around a mutual love for horses and the outdoors. In 1956 with the help of a deputy sheriff named Jazz Orr the couple crossed the Canadian border and were married in Lethbridge, Alberta much to Dorothy's father's chagrin. The elopement was eventually forgiven and the big Swede grew to appreciate his cowboy son-in-law. Their first child, Cassandra Marie, was born in Cutbank, Montana the following year. However, an exceptionally cold winter inspired them to head southward for Texas and their arrival to Levelland was met by a crowd of Nick's little sisters celebrating the return of their big brother. Many years would pass before they returned to the Glacier Park Lodge, but when they did in 2014 with their youngest daughter they discovered that much of what they remembered was still there.
Nick worked tirelessly to provide for his family with jobs that he took on farms, the oil field, and finally found his ''calling'' as a diesel mechanic. For nearly two decades, he worked as a mechanic for International Harvester in Levelland and then upon the business's closing in the early 1980s he opened his own shop, Nick's Diesel Service. As a businessman, he was well known for his fairness and honesty, and as a mechanic, his ability to fix diesel engines seemed to stem from a natural talent. He wore greasy work boots for much of his life and was unwavering in his commitment to support his family. He never let go of his love for horses and livestock, at various points in time he raised pigs, cattle, sheep, chickens, turkeys, and even emus. Nick loved his children unconditionally and held them to high moral standards taking pride in their successes, but always there to help them overcome the challenging moments of their lives.
Despite his early misadventures on the shrimper, Nick loved boats and never got seasick when he was the captain no matter how rough the water or questionable the engine. Nick enjoyed family vacations to the Texas Gulf Coast, the mountains of Colorado, and fishing trips to Lake Stamford. All of these trips always involved at least one moment where the tool box came out of the truck so that Nick could save the day on the side of the road or, at the very least, get the trailer lights on the boat to work. He gave so much to his family over the course of his life, yet perhaps the greatest gift he gave them was the luxury of an unwavering sense of security based on the fact that everything would work out for the best because he would see to it. And it was more than a promise, because he was right.
Nick Nicholson's indomitable spirit will live on for generations to come in the stories that his children and grandchildren will pass along. His passing has caused much sorrow to his family; however, happier memories will eventually replace the sad ones and his loved ones will overcome their grief by virtue of the strength that he bestowed upon them. It won't be long until their thoughts return to memories of forty-two games, family barbecues, fishing trips, Snoopy socks, and an ill-fated encounter with a skunk at the water spigot.
R.D. ''Nick'' Nicholson was preceded in death by his parents, George F. Nicholson and Eunice Mae Simpson, and his grandson Nicholas Nicholson. His is survived by his wife of sixty-one years, Dorothy Diane Nicholson, his children Cassandra Marie Shaw (Jack Shaw) of Levelland, Raymond Ward Nicholson of Snyder, Mathew Wells Nicholson (Lucynda Godbee) of Fort Worth, and Mari Loreena Nicholson-Preuss (Gene Preuss) of Houston. His is also survived by his grandchildren Marc Anthony Agnew, Michael Philip Shaw, Christopher Lane Nicholson, Jeremy Brett Nicholson, James Jakob Nicholson, and Christina Brooke Nicholson. He especially enjoyed the time spent with his ten great-grandchildren.
He was extraordinarily close to his large family and is survived by his ten siblings Bonnie Moore, Bobbi Melton, Walter Raymond Nicholson, Patsy Gresham, Sandra Hutchins, Twyla Beseda, Betty Lack, Margaret Bilbrey, Dean Nicholson, and Nancy Lee.
A Memorial Service will be held at 10:00 am on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, at St. Michael's Catholic Church in Levelland.
Arrangements are under the direction and personal care of the professionals at Krestridge Funeral Home. (806) 897-1111
St. Michael's Catholic Church
316 East Washington St.
Levelland, TX 79336
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
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