August 1, 1939 - July 16, 2021
Funeral Home Russon Mortuary Bountiful
Our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather, John William Nichols, passed away peacefully on July 16, 2021, at his home surrounded by his wife and members of his family. He was born on August 1, 1939, to Milton E. and Dorothy C. Nichols in Reedsburg, Wisconsin. John was the second of four children, having an older brother Robert and twin younger siblings, Pricilla Anne and Paul Andrew. His amazing parents established a successful pharmacy in Reedsburg in the depth of the Great Depression, and they diligently heeded the patriotic call to conserve and donate during World War II.
Always a successful and talented student, John skipped the second grade and excelled in every subject throughout his schooling. After graduating from High School at 16, he enrolled in the University of Wisconsin at Madison, choosing to major in mining engineering. During his summers John worked first at a mine in Colorado and then at Kennecott in Utah. Kennecott recognized his talent and offered him a job. Upon graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1960, John drove to Utah and began Management Training with Kennecott assigned to the Engineering Department.
After settling in Utah, John married Marjorie Anne Nielsen in 1961 (later divorced) and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Shortly after getting married, John altered the course of his life, quitting his engineering job and enrolling in the University of Utah to begin medical school in the Fall of 1962. John graduated from Medical School in 1966 knowing that he wanted to be a surgeon.
In January of 1966 John and Anne welcomed their first child, John Milton, to their family and John’s life was changed forever. With the Vietnam War in full swing, after graduating from medical school but before undertaking his residency, John enlisted in the Navy and was stationed as a doctor in Hawaii, where he and his family lived for three years. It was while in Hawaii, in 1968, that John and Anne happily welcomed their second child, Maren Marie, to their family.
After his Naval service, John applied for and was accepted into an ophthalmology residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. John loved his three-year residency at the Mayo Clinic. Upon completion of his residency, John moved the family back to Utah, choosing to set up his practice in Bountiful, Utah, where he practiced medicine until he retired. John was a skilled and talented surgeon and doctor, and innumerable people along the Wasatch Front placed their trust in his capable hands. He loved caring for his patients and practiced medicine the old-fashioned way, one individual at a time. It’s just who he was.
In 1981 John’s life took another turn when 12-year-old Michael Wadley injured his eye and became one of John’s patients. Medical appointments introduced John to Mike’s mom, Diane, and romance flourished. On March 16, 1982, John married Diane, immediately growing his family from two children to eight, and John was a faithful and loving husband to Diane for the rest of his life.
Shortly after their marriage, John also began work on his famous train room. Trains were a life-long love for John, and friends would regularly mention that they had seen John waiting beside the railroad tracks in West Bountiful with a camera in his hands waiting for a train to pass. Friday nights were for a dinner date with Diane and “train meetings” with his friends, where they would gather to watch slides of trains and admire and enjoy each other’s train layouts. In the decades that John worked on the train room, he created an intricate world full of beauty, detail, and sophistication. That room stands as a testament to John’s creativity, intelligence, and love for engineering and nature. It is remarkable.
John retired from his medical practice in 2004 and was called with Diane on a mission for the Church in the South Pacific. In this new role, John continued to use his medical knowledge and skill to bless numerous people sprinkled throughout the Pacific islands. His mission service was cut short due to his need for an emergency liver transplant. The family will forever be grateful for the unselfish individual who made it possible for John to have nearly two more decades of love and life.
John was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served in numerous callings and particularly cherished his time as a temple worker in the Bountiful Temple. He had a deep faith in his Savior and a testimony of priesthood power and authority.
John is survived by his devoted wife Diane Wadley Nichols, his children John (Deaun) Nichols, Maren (Bill) DeBoer, Michael (Lonnie) Wadley, Richard (Emily) Wadley, Patricia (Steven) Smith, Daniel (Lisa) Wadley, Jennifer (Timothy) Carr, and Amy (Matthew) MacKay, as well as his brother Robert (Betty) Nichols and sister Anne Colligan. He is also survived by 34 beloved grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents, Milton and Dorothy Nichols, his younger brother Paul Andrew, and his brother-in-law Jim Colligan.
John’s home bounced between quiet serenity and overstuffed commotion. It was a haven where children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would come to feel loved, supported, and cheered. Where John’s love of the Savior and the spirit of his faith permeated every corner of the house. At its craziest, on those Sundays when everyone was gathered together, when there wasn’t a seat to be found anywhere in the home, the most pronounced sound, above everything else, was laughter. It was the sound of joy, the sound of dozens and dozens and dozens of people who loved to be together. Who would hug and shove and pat and smile. Who would laugh and yell and cheer and squeal.
And at those times, and in those moments, you would always find John where he had always been. Sitting in the middle of the madness, in His Chair, smiling and watching it all. He presided over all of it. We were his. And he will be ours forever. A man of unique talent and intelligence. With an old-fashioned work ethic and a keen sense of honesty and fairness. Who was born in small town in Wisconsin, who served his country and his fellow man, who ascended to the heights of his profession, but who had never gotten distracted from what really mattered in life: His family, His faith, a quiet train room, and a good crossword puzzle. We will always love you Dad and Grandpa!
A viewing in John’s honor will be held at Russon Mortuary, 295 North Main Street, Bountiful, Utah, on Thursday, July 22, from 6:00-8:00pm. Funeral services will be held on Friday, July 23, at 11am at the Bountiful 10th Ward meetinghouse, 1145 North 200 East, Bountiful, Utah, with a viewing immediately preceding the service from 9:30-10:30am. Interment will be at the Pleasant Grove City Cemetery.