John Leonard Nicholls

NICHOLLS, John Leonard B.A., B.Ed. Teacher, mentor, athlete, community leader, husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. Born in Nanaimo September 20, 1908. Passed away March 4, 2004 at Dufferin Place, Nanaimo, B.C. He is survived by Peggy (nee Williams), his wife of 65 years, daughters Sharon Western and Julie (Nigel) Burridge; his five grandchildren- Kevin (Sherrin) Western, Lauri (Gary) Gwilt, Bradley (Jennifer) Dillen, Blair (Fiona) Dillen and Andrea (Christopher) Wickham; his seven great grandchildren- Meagan and Carmen Gwilt; Erin and Alexandra Berry-Dillen; Sophia, Noah and Jamieson Wickham. Also survived by brother-in-law Campbell (Ileana) Williams in Rio de Janeiro, sister-in-law Bonnie Nicholls in Parksville, cousin Bill (Jean) Nicholls in England as well as numerous nieces and nephews including a very special niece, Margie (Andy) Graaten, in Coombs. Len lived a rich and rewarding life. During his high school years in Victoria, he was active as President of Students’ Council, a Sr. Champion athlete, and Minister of Devotional Affairs in the Fourth Boys’ Parliament. At Victoria College, his interest in sports, music and drama continued as he studied to become a teacher. Len began his teaching career at Ganges in 1929, boarding with “Granny” Mouat. At this time, he held the track title for B.C. Open Championship in Quarter Mile and in Broad Jump. His second position was teacher in a one-room school at Port Renfrew. In 1934 Len enrolled at U.B.C., finishing his B.A. in the fall of 1936. He was appointed principal of Parksville’s Elementary and High Schools which began his long career in District #69. It was there that he met and married Margaret (Peggy) Williams, thus uniting two pioneer Nanaimo families. In 1957 he became principal of Q.B.H.S. and they moved to Qualicum Beach. His affiliations included: Charter Pres. of Parksville Kinsmen, Pres. Dist. #69 Teachers’ Assoc., Pres. Parks/Qual Canadian Club, Pres. Qualicum Rotary, Toastmaster, United Church Superintendent of Sunday Schools in Parksville and Qualicum, Pres. of Society of Organized Services, Pres. of B.C. and Yukon Heritage Society, member of Dist. #69, Nanoose and Nanaimo Historical Societies, Life Member of Nanaimo Retired Teachers’ Assoc., Pres. B.C. Historical Society. Len enjoyed participation in drama as both actor and director throughout his life and has done much to further the interest in amateur acting among young people. He was honoured to have “Nicholls Park” named in recognition of his contributions to the community. In 1967, both Len and his wife received Canadian Centennial Medals “for service to the nation”. Len and Peggy were presented,”for service”, the City of Nanaimo Heritage Honour Award in 1991. Len took early retirement in 1969, and the love of travel took them to many countries and continents in the following years. “Papa” was a very special light in the lives of his five grandchildren and is dearly missed by us all. The family wishes to thank the nurses and staff at Dufferin Place for their love and care during Len’s time with them. There will be no service, by request. A family memorial gathering was held on March 7, 2004.


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