A celebration of life and a tribute for Mayor Henry L. “Buck” Nichols was held on Monday, March 4, 2019, at 11:30 a.m. at Loris First Presbyterian Church with the Rev. Dr. Timothy L. Osment officiating.
The pews were filled to capacity leaving standing room only with family, friends, council members, politicians and personnel who worked closely with Nichols. City workers, Loris Police Department and the Loris Fire Department represented the city’s mourning of a man who was loved by many. More than 300 people shared in remembering Nichols’ life and his love for the city of Loris.
Nichols was born on Dec. 5, 1950, in Loris. His parents, Lewatha and Daisy Mae Nichols, raised him in the home he resided in on Church Street. His father was a farmer and his mother was an educator. He graduated from a private boarding school, Mather School, at the age of 16 and was the salutatorian of his class. He continued his education at Howard University and received a Master of Business Administration from the University of the District of Columbia. He worked for the state of Maryland Department of Human Resources as CEO where he oversaw the $1.8 billion budget that included the divisions of grants. He also served as the assistant vice chancellor for budget, finance and athletics for North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C. He dedicated his life to service and serving his community.
He met and married his wife, Veda, in 2007. He spoke of his hometown as though it was New York City, his cousin, the Rev. Daisy Brooks, said. The couple returned to Loris to take care of Nichols’ ailing mother. His desire to serve the community brought him to run for mayor of Loris. His campaign slogan was “Moving Forward Together”. His desire was to bring the community together and unify Loris in one direction. He was elected as mayor in December 2016. Within his first few months as mayor he was diagnosed with cancer. He did not allow his treatment and illness to prevent him from holding the duties of mayor; however, when recovering from a treatment he kept in close contact with the city officials when he was unable to leave his home and he continued to make decisions and allowed residents of Loris to come to his home to discuss issues. He asked that they be respectful, understand what is being said and to listen.
The three hour service was filled with memories of Nichols as a young boy, to a teen and moved onto his adult life. It was said that he loved the city of Loris, he loved the residents and he received a great amount of love in return. Scripture reading of the Old Testament was read by the Rev. Thesalonia Graham and the New Testament reading was by the Rev. Eddie Vaughn. Music was provided by the Vereen Family singers. Speakers included Todd Harrelson, Loris mayor pro tem; South Carolina State Senator Greg Hembree; and Barbara Blain-Bellamy, mayor of the city of Conway. After a brief video tribute of pictures of Nichols with family, friends and fellow workers words of comfort were provided by Elder Sharon Townsend, Associate Minister at Emmanuel Baptist Church. Family members who spoke were his son, Jonathan Nichols; his sister Dr. Gloria Nichols-English; the Rev. Daisy Brooks, pastor at Facts of Life Church; and his wife, Veda Lamar Nichols; giving tributes and memories of Henry Nichols.
The celebration of life was a full military style service, the flag folded, a bugler plays taps, the flag is folded and presented to his widow, Veda. The officer stated, “On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Marine Corps, a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service” after which a 21 gun salute was given.
Harrelson opened by saying, “It’s an honor to be here to speak on behalf of our mayor and my friend.” He continued, “I look around and don’t see Mayor Nichols directly running around the city in his golf cart.” He continued, “He was a Christian man and he did everything he could do from the start, everything he did for the city and the citizens of this town.” He respected Nichols and stated he was the most honest man he knows.
Senator Hembree spoke of his friend, “One thing stands out about Henry, my respect for him going out into the work successfully in Maryland and the military and returning to his hometown of Loris.” He said, “He came home for a lesson.” He said that Nichols came to his home for Thanksgiving last year and his wife, Renee, thought of that time they spent together and was heartbroken to lose a good friend. He relayed to the congregation on behalf of the United States Senate. I give my condolences and love. “It is an honor and privilege for me to be here speaking a few words about my friend Henry”. He stated that Nichols was a hard worker. His parents had taught him to listen before speaking, He said, “He would not demand attention, he didn’t want to be the center of attention, he would look and notice then speak.” He said, “Most important he was on this earth to serve a purpose greater than himself.” He spoke of Nichols’ service to his country and his accomplishments through his life. He came back home.
Bridgett Fowler read Nichols obituary and work history mentioning all the names of his family at the end.
Nichols son, Jonathan, spoke of the love of a father and son. He stated Nichols love of God led him where he was placed. His service to his family, the military and his dedication to giving his all in what he did. He led community leaders through his love of God and passed that along to his children. Nichols sister, Gloria, shared memories of childhood and their devoted love to family. His cousin, Brooks, shared how “Henry loved M&M’s, but never bought them for himself.” She said, “He would let me buy them and then ask over and over for me to share with him.” She stated he loved the peanut M&M’s and when she did share, she handed them to him one at a time. His wife Veda spoke of his dedication to the city and thanked everyone for the text messages, phone calls and visits to share in her grief for a great man. She said people have been bringing food. She said, “Lots of food, ya’ll come over and eat.” She thanked the city for giving her husband the recognition and dedication to his vision for the city of Loris.
A closing prayer and closing remarks with the benediction was provided by Osment. Friends of Nichols were given a few minutes to speak to the congregation of their memories of Nichols.
Nichols did not see his work as a job, but as a way to serve, to build a career as he raised his children providing the Christian base to live by. Love one another, share your talents and give of yourself to those around. He showed his dedication through his work as mayor of Loris. Throughout his illness he would say, “I’m good, I’m healing well.” He was always of a positive mindset; a positive attitude brings positive results. Known as the first African-American mayor of Loris, he was also known as a man who encouraged others to give their best.