Simon "Buddy" Nichols Jr. '62 October 4, 2023 1:41 PM updated: October 4, 2023 1:52 PM
Simon Walter Nichols, Jr.
October 12, 1932 - September 13, 2023
Simon Walter “Buddy” Nichols, Jr., of Friendswood, Texas passed on to his heavenly home and was reunited with his beloved Nanny on September 13, 2023 at the age of 90. He was born on October 12, 1932 to Simon Walter “Red” Nichols, Sr. and Ruth Green Nichols in Hearne, Texas.
After graduating from Marlin High School in 1951, Buddy joined and served in the US Navy until 1955. This small town Texas boy had the opportunity to see the world. His time in the Navy would take him to exotic locations like Tokyo, Japan, Manila, Philippines, Saigon, Vietnam, Bangkok, Thailand, New Delhi, India, Karachi, Pakistan, Dhahran, and Saudi Arabia. After serving his country, Buddy returned to Hearne and met the love of his life, Annette Hancock. The couple married on June 6, 1956, a marriage that was to last 67 years.
Buddy attended Texas A&M University from 1957-1962 on the GI bill and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering degree, all while working and raising a young family with Annette, who was also working and “pushing him through” as she liked to say. He was a proud, lifelong Aggie! Gig Em!
Early in his career his job opportunities would take him and his family to San Diego, California, Marietta, Georgia and Irving, Texas before finally putting down roots in Houston, Texas, where he began a long career at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. He had a wonderful job opportunity in 1976 and decided to move the family to Kwajalein, a remote island in the Marshall Islands of the South Pacific. It was an amazing, four and a half year life changing adventure for the whole family. Buddy loved island life and enjoyed playing softball, basketball, deep sea fishing, and his favorite, scuba diving in some of the most beautiful waters in the world. One unique and extraordinary experience was diving to sunken Japanese war ships from WW2. Kwajalein was one of the best experiences for the whole family, especially the people and life- long friendships that were made.
After his job on Kwajalein, Buddy would return to Friendswood and resume his career at NASA where he worked until he retired on June 2, 2006 after 29 years. Buddy was a lifelong outdoorsman and loved to hunt and spend time at the deer lease with his brothers, uncles, friends and family. He was an amazing gardener and could grow absolutely anything. He always had a vegetable garden and was known for his yard full of beautiful plumeria and hibiscus flowers. He was very competitive and loved an intense domino game with the Nichols clan. Buddy was an avid sports fan and enjoyed watching the Houston Astros, Houston Rockets and his Texas Aggies with Nanny.
Buddy was a member of the Friends Church in Liverpool, Texas.
He was proceeded in death by his beloved wife, Annette Hancock Nichols, his parents, Simon Walter “Red” Nichols, Sr., Ruth Green Nichols, his brothers, Thomas Nichols, Robert Nichols and his sisters, Helen Robbins, Jenice Kennedy, Louise Nichols and son-in-law, Kenny Ray Boniface.
Buddy is survived by his three daughters, and a son-in-law, Ramona Rhea Boniface of Friendswood, Texas, Judith Ann Van Wilpe and husband Scott of Rogers, Arkansas, Robin Lynne Nichols of Seabrook, Texas and son, Mark Allen Williamson and wife Juno of Merkel, Texas.
He is also survived by seven grandchildren, Kimberly Boniface and fiancee Greg Gilmore, Kasey Hartlieb and wife Beth, Tyler Hartlieb and wife Stephanie, Andrew Van Wilpe, Nikki Van Wilpe, Cortney Van Wilpe, Delaney Van Wilpe, four great grandchildren, Virginia Hartlieb, Magnolia Hartlieb, Landon Hartlieb and baby girl Hartlieb due in January 2024 and numerous other beloved family members.
A special thank you to Buddy’s Light Heart Memory Care family for taking such loving and compassionate care of him these last two years.
Services will be held on Saturday, September 23, 2023 at 11 am at the McCauley Funeral Home in Franklin, Texas. A visitation will be held at 10 am prior to the service. Burial, with military honors, will follow at the Elliott Cemetery where he will be laid to rest next to his beloved Nanny.