Henry Clarence Nichols

By  | November 14, 2020 | Filed under: Elkins Funeral Home, Obituaries

Henry Clarence Nichols, 86 originally of Florence, AL passed away Wednesday, November 11 in Birmingham, AL with his loving wife of 64 years holding his hand. A memorial service will be held in Florence, AL at a later date due to the current pandemic.

Henry was born April, 17, 1934 at ECM Hospital in Florence, AL. He was the only child of Henry Clay Nichols and Delora Tice Nichols. Henry grew up enjoying music, bicycles, the Tennessee River and his friends and cousins who lived in the area. He graduated from Coffee High School in 1952 and also from Florence State Teachers College in 1956 with a degree in Music Education. Henry also served in the National Guard. He began his career teaching in Moulton, Al and then moved back to Florence and taught band at Florence Junior High, Harlan, Forest Hills, Hibbitt and Bradshaw High School before he retired with 31 years of service. While teaching at Bradshaw High School he received Masters of Education from UNA and a Landscape Design Certificate from Auburn University and opened a garden center and did landscape design.

He met his wife Shirley Griffin at college and they could be found at the college library most days where Shirley worked. They married on July 7, 1956 in Florence. They were married for 64 years and Henry was the father of three girls.

Henry enjoyed all kinds of hobbies, he was a musician, photographer, ham radio operator, bicyclist, knife collector, sport car enthusiast and loved time on the water sailing. After retirement he continued to play

with various music groups in the Shoals area; The Shoals Symphony, Corinth Symphony, Retired Band Directors Assoc., the Shoals Community Band and he sang with FUMC and First Presbyterian choirs. His life was filled with music and performances.

After retirement Henry helped at a local plant nursery and enjoyed helping friends and his former students pick out plants for their yards while getting to visit with all of the customers. He continued to be open to new experiences and travel fed his passions for learning about faraway places like Austria, Spain and Germany. Even at 86 he was continuing to learn German.

Henry was a natural born teacher who loved to build-up those around him. He was strong in faith and instilled that in his family. He never met a stranger and treated every person he met with respect. Social justice and empathy were a great part of how he made connections with young and old. He had an open mind to those he encountered and encouraged the same in his family. Whether he taught you, or worked with you, or just made your acquaintance it was always with an open heart to help and encourage. He was always learning and pushing all of those around him to do the same.

One of his greatest joys was his Grandchildren, they all gravitated to him. His hugs were the first thing they ran to on their many visits. He taught them how to ride bikes, make blueberry and banana pancakes, hunt, Uish, sail and encouraged their interests and endeavors. He was so proud of every one of them. He lived for big holidays with all of his family in the house. His ready smile and laugh made him a joy to be near.

Henry is survived by his wife, Shirley Griffin Nichols of Birmingham, AL. His daughters Cherie Leist Woodard (Eddie) Jackson, MS; Leigh Nichols Oncale (Shane) and Laura Buchanan McElroy (Robert) all of Birmingham, AL. Grandchildren Kayla Leist Labrato (Chase), Joseph Leist, Sloan Kirby Kren (Hayden), Juliana Kirby, Sydney Oncale, Virginia Buchanan, Hillary Buchanan, Lindsey Kate McElroy, Reed McElroy and Sims McElroy. Great grandchildren Claire and Reagan Labrato and Wesley Kren.

Memorial donations can be made to the Shoals Community Band or to the Music program at First Presbyterian Church of Florence.

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