Rohe Track Era All About Us!



Death Notice

Mr. John Thomas Nichols, age 72 of Oak Ridge passed away on Sunday, June 26, 2016 at Canterfield Assisted Living. He was born in Chicago, Ill and grew up in the Chicago area. He was very active in the Eagle Scouts during his younger years. He loved track and was a member of the U.T. Track Team including the SEC Championship Team of 1964. He received his MBA Degree from the University of Montana and also a Master’s Degree in Accounting from Memphis State University (now University of Memphis).
5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. and on Thursday, March 21 at Mount Calvary Baptist Church, 608 North Horners Lane, Rockville, MD, from 10 a.m. until time of service at 11 a.m. Interment Gate of Heaven Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions should be made to Montgomery County Public Schools Education Fund/Wayne Whigham Memorial Fund, 850 Hungerford Dr., Room 149, Rockville, MD 20850.

John proudly served our country in the U.S. Air Force and retired as an Air Force Major.   After retirement, he became very devoted to mission work through his church in West Tennessee. He moved to Oak Ridge four years ago to be close to his daughter and her family.  He attended Grace Covenant Church in Oak Ridge. He was preceded in death by his parents.

He is survived by his daughter, Rebecca Anne Brockwell and her husband, Eric of Oak Ridge; Son, John Thomas Nichols, Jr. and his wife, Sindhia of Memphis; Granddaughter, Deirdre Brockwell; and Sisters, Karen Nichols, Pamela, and Cathy Rieser.

The family will receive friends on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 from 4-5:00 pm at Grace Covenant Church in Oak Ridge. The Funeral Service will begin at 5:00 pm with Pastor Larry Dipboye officiating. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105 or go to:

Pat Pomphrey -- On Visiting John Nichols
My last in-person visit with John was April 8, 2016.  On the 29th of June, a mere 12 weeks later, I attended his funeral in Oak Ridge Tennessee.  Between then and now, he seemingly made a valiant recovery from the condition he was in at Hospice, moving into assisted living next door and enjoying more freedom.  His texts to me were encouraging. His myeloma, however, was vicious in its last attack, causing him to suffer spontaneous fractures of the left tibia, left shoulder, then right tibia.  Ultimately kidneys among other organs failed, and he lost his fight.  True John spirit, he was fighting until the end.

His daughter, Rebecca, and her husband, Eric, are members of the Grace Covenant Church in Oak Ridge.  They arranged for a viewing, funeral service, then an old fashion church dinner at the church on June 29th, 2016.  The Grace Choral provided very moving and appropriate hymns.  The viewing was a fitting tribute to our “Cold Warrior”, who served in the Western Aleutian Chain as a Radar Officer, then in the missile silos of Arkansas, as a Missile Launch Officer.  Later I recall he taught at Lowry AFB in Colorado.  He was dressed in his Air Force Blue Uniform but wore an Orange & White Tie commemorating his 4 years as a fellow track team member and middle distance runner at the University of Tennessee. The casket was adorned with the Flag of the United States.

He was 72 at the time of death.  Born in the Chicago area, he still holds some records at his Lombard High School.  He was a Sea Scout during his youth.  After graduating from UT with a Bachelor’s degree and entering the Air Force with an ROTC commission, he also earned an MBA degree from the University of Montana and a Master’s Degree in Accounting from Memphis State University.  He retired as an Air Force Major.  He was an accomplished Tae Kwon Do Master.  His hobbies included gem polishing, photography, and riding his Harley.  He was a super cool guy and also a season pass holder at UT Football games, where I last saw him in good health in 2014.

At the funeral I was also able to meet his younger sister, Karen Nichols, and his son, John Jr. and his wife Sindhia of Memphis.  Also attending was Rebecca and Eric’s daughter, Deirdre Brockwell, an engineer with US Gypsum, Greenville, MS.

With such short notice, a few of our teammates were able to attend, including Coppley Vickers, Dan Brown and his wife, Gerry Eddleman and his wife, Bob Barber, Bubba Beal, Mickey Shelton, and Marilyn Pomphrey.  Apologies to anyone else I may have forgotten with this failing memory.  Coach Rohe sent a beautiful display of flowers in the Team’s Name.

St. Jude’s was one of John’s favorite charities, and he asked that in lieu of flowers, donations should go to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105 (also

Gerry Eddlemon – On John Nichols’ Funeral:
Harold “Bubba” Beal, Danny Brown, Pat Pomphrey, Coppley Vickers, Bob Barber, Mickey Shelton, and Gerry Eddlemon attended the visitation, service, and dinner at Grace Covenant Church in Oak Ridge, both as personal friends of John Nichols, and as representatives for Coach Rohe and John’s brothers on the Rohe-era Tennessee track and field teams. Also present were friends Marilyn Pomphrey and Mikki Eddlemon.  We had the privilege of meeting with some of John’s family and friends including his daughter Rebecca and her husband, John’s sister, brother and his wife, and his grand-daughter (a cross-country runner herself!), among many others.  The gracious ladies of Grace Covenant Church prepared a delicious dinner for all the visitors.

Lying in state, John was most resplendent in his U.S. Air Force dress blues with an impressive collection of military ribbons on his breast.  We can certainly be very proud of him as a man and an outstanding Vol athlete, but also as an Air Force officer in the service of his country.  Very near John’s casket was a beautiful spray of orange and white flowers sent on behalf of his Rohe-era track and field teammates.  Near the church entrance was a small display featuring photos and . . . his track shoes.

The Christian service and the beautiful singing reminded us that, though we grieve John’s departure from us and this still beautiful but badly bent old world, we can take comfort in knowing that he rests now in the arms of his loving Lord and Savior.  And, oh my! . . . what a day it will be, when we can all join John, our brothers and sisters who have gone on before, and all the saints in thanks and praise before our Creator, Lord, and Savior! 

 Good bye John, until we meet again.

Coach Chuck Rohe – On Visiting John Nichols
Sorry I was unable to attend his funeral- I understand that it was very nice and John looked great in his orange tie.

He was a tough runner (when the going gets tough, the tough get going) and a tough guy as he fought his cancer to the very end.  I had a chance to visit with him a few weeks before his passing.

Glad a number of his teammates were able to attend his funeral, including Pat Pomphrey his roommate who flew all the way in from Arizona...great comments from Pat in his email also.

God Bless John's soul...he will always be one of my favorites.

Coach Chuck Rohe