Arthur Earl Nichols, 83, of Bainbridge passed away Thursday, November 7 2019, at Archbold Memorial Hospital in Thomasville.
The graveside service will be held Sunday, November 10, 2019, at 1:00 p.m. at New Enterprise Free Will Baptist Church Cemetery, 2104 Bartow Gibson Highway, Iron City, GA with Rev. Tim Dean officiating.
The family will receive friends from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 9, 2019, at Ivey Funeral Home. Online visitors may sign the guest register at www.iveyfuneral.com. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Bainbridge-Decatur County Humane Society, 1250 Cox Avenue, Bainbridge, GA 39819.
Earl Nichols was the son of Arthur E. Nichols and Mozell Phillips Nichols. He was born in Bainbridge, GA on September 4, 1936. He graduated from West Bainbridge High School in the class of 1954. Earl was a member of Bethany Baptist Church.
As with most farm families, Earl learned the value of hard work and making a living at an early age, not only on the farm, but also as a young salesman of boiled peanuts on the square in Bainbridge. He was a natural born salesman and entrepreneur, and began his agricultural equipment career with Hodges Tractor Company as a parts salesman and truck driver. Others quickly recognized his innate ability to sell, and he accepted an opportunity to work as a traveling salesman for Harrington Manufacturing Company in the early 1960’s.
In 1967, Earl purchased the John Deere dealership in Bainbridge, and formed Nichols Tractor Company. At the time of Earl’s retirement in 2000, Nichols Tractor Company had been recognized as the No. 1 John Deere dealership in the U.S. for the final 15 years of its 33 years of operation. He sold the first irrigation system in Decatur County, as well as selling the first cotton picker when cotton made a comeback.
Earl’s successful business expertise provided him the means to help his family, friends, and community as a supporter of Decatur County School programs, FFA, Decatur County Young Farmers, and the Bainbridge-Decatur County Humane Society. He considered it an honor to provide those big green tractors and gators wherever they were needed. In fact, he would say his greatest reward was seeing nothing but green tractors in local parades.
Earl served on many agricultural commissions, as well as on the Georgia Ports Authority and the Decatur County Industrial Development Authority. He recently received his 50-year pin as a Mason and was also a Shriner for over 50 years as part of a clown unit of the Hasan Temple Shriners that entertained during parades and other events. He was also a member of the Royal Order of Jesters, Court 192 and the York Rites Bodies of Bainbridge.
Earl’s success in business was surpassed by his love and devotion to his family. His wife, Joan, was the love of his life, and his daughter, Dennie, was his most cherished achievement. He gleamed with pride as he watched his granddaughter, Nicole, grow into a wonderful wife and mother.
Earl considered his best friends to be the farmers of Decatur and surrounding counties, his neighbors at Mexico Beach, and his business associates. He enjoyed being with people, sharing laughs, and helping anyone in need.
Survivors include his daughter, Dennie Nichols of Bainbridge, GA; his siblings, Bill Nichols and his wife, Judi of Bainbridge, GA, and Faye Nichols of Tallahassee, FL; his granddaughter, Nicole Nichols Finley and her husband, Chris; and his great-granddaughters, Sarah Maris Finley and Joanna Finley. He was preceded in death by his parents, Arthur E. and Mozell Phillips Nichols; his wife, Joan Ard Nichols; and his sister, Dorothy N. Craddock.