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Published: 7/2/2013

Robert W. Nichols, 1924-2013

Longtime principal gave kids structure

Rossford educator had humorous side

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Robert W. Nichols, a longtime principal in the Rossford schools who was committed to providing students a structured start leavened with humor, died Sunday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. He was 89.

Mr. Nichols had congestive heart failure, his daughter Debra Os-trander said.

He had been an educator about 30 years, much of that as principal, jointly, of Glenwood School and the former Lime City School in the Rossford Exempted Village Schools district.

He retired in 1978. His colleagues threw him a farewell gathering, and he returned home with posters and other mementos that paid tribute to him and his career.

“He was just thrilled,” his daughter said. “I remember thinking, ‘This was big stuff. You know, a lot of people really like my dad.’ ”

He believed in rules and order in his schools and at home with his children, but he was far from dour.

“My dad was a very structured man and loved the kids. He really liked to have things be just right,” his daughter said. “My dad was a joker. He loved to get in a group of people and tell the silliest jokes.”

In retirement, he and his wife, Shirley, briefly owned the Christian Bookstore in Perrysburg’s Country Charm Shopping Center. A former member of Grace United Methodist Church, Mr. Nichols belonged to First Baptist Church in Perrysburg, where he had been a deacon and sang in the choir.

He was born March 18, 1924, in Detroit to Minnie and Fergus Nichols. He graduated from Denby High School, where he ran on its city championship cross country team.

Still, when he tried to enlist in the Marines after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he was turned down on the basis of a foot problem. He also was rejected by the Army and Navy. He enlisted in the Coast Guard and served in the Pacific theater.

“My main intention was to serve my country,” he wrote in a memoir of his wartime experiences.

Afterward, he went to Bowling Green State University, from which he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees. At BGSU, Mr. Nichols performed in musical productions.

“He had a strong, professional tenor voice,” his daughter said.

He was a fan of opera, University of Michigan sports, and the Detroit Tigers.

Surviving are his wife, Shirley, whom he married May 9, 1952; daughters, Debra K. Ostrander, Joni Badik, and Carolyn Heidelberg; son, John F. Nichols; brother, James Nichols; 13 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg, where memorial services are scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Friday.

The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio or First Baptist Church, Perrysburg.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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