(LaGRANGE, Ga.) Voyed Milton "Milt" Nichols Jr. passed away unexpectedly at his home in LaGrange, Ga., on Sept. 3, 2021, at the age of 52.
Milt was born in LaGrange and moved to DeKalb County, Ga., at a young age. Keeping a connection to their roots, his family often visited both sets of grandparents in LaGrange, GA and Roanoke, Ala. As a young child, Milt already knew exactly who he was. When asked his name, he would reply, "Milt, my son." To many, he was fondly known as Tater. Milt spent his childhood days playing with, protecting and aggravating his younger sister Jody and his youngest cousin Julie. Following Milt's direction, the mischievous threesome had their first car accident before even hitting preschool when they crashed Milt's mother's VW Bug into another car in a parking lot. He graduated Tucker High School in 1987 and Georgia State University in 1992 with a bachelor's degree in history and a philosophy minor. Milt loved his job as a one-man crew supervisor at DeKalb County Watershed for 14 years. He left to move his family to Roanoke in 2010, where his wife Joy works as a nurse practitioner.
Mr. Nichols loved to tennis, croquet, basketball, volleyball, fishing and chess (Ella never once beat him at chess). Milt was a member of Hoochee Poosa Locavores foodie group, LaGrange Tennis Center and New Hope Church in Clacksville, Ala., a former volunteer firefighter at Mt Olive, and at one time a premier member of one of Atlanta's longest running book clubs. Milt was a lifelong learner, and after leaving the water department, he spent his time gardening and homesteading. He enjoyed gatherings of any kind, especially with family and during holidays.
Their farmstead started out as an overgrown patch he transformed into a pasture. He built their small farmhouse by hand on weekends with a hammer and nails and a gas generator. He learned to fence and cross fence, where he did so on many acres with help of friends. Through about six years of studying, experimenting and lots of $$$$, he finally succeeded in growing a thriving garden. Despite some failures, he planted about 70 fruit trees. (He had no use for ornamentals.) His garden was his sanctuary. He lived life by a few philosophies he took from his elders like his pawpaw, "The best work is done the hour before sunrise, and the best sleep is the hour after sunset." Or his granny's advice, "If it feels wrong, just don't do it" (not that he listened). Milt always left people with a good feeling and expected the same from others. He was both intuitive and logical and had a gift for recognizing faces he met only briefly. There was seldom a place he went without running into someone he knew.
The thing his family loved most about Milt was his storytelling ability and gift of gab. He was Joy's connection to the world. His children and extended family relationships were most important to him. He made sure his family ate overly healthy family "suppers" (not "dinner," as Joy might correct him). He had a beautiful mind and was a free thinker, and everyone would come to him for advice - Milt gave Joy sage work advice as an objective outsider. And the kids relied upon him for all kinds of advice, answers to life questions, even contests to see who could solve school math problems fastest. He was a big kid at heart, coaching many a soccer games (where they won a couple of championships with the most hands-off coach ever). Milt would say, "Just let the kids play." Joy prided Milt in raising their kids - the opinionated rebel Ella, smart and funny Liam and artistic Finn.
Their "Caboose," Finn, came along right about the time Milt left his job at DeKalb County Watershed to be a full-time caregiver in Roanoke, not to mention a catnapping trophy husband. He embraced this new focus and loved connecting with other stay-at-home dads.
He loved listening to or watching the Braves, much the way his dad and granddad did. He liked to remind Joy she was lucky he didn't watch college football as well. He had deep faith in the Lord and Christ, and Milt will forever remain in many a heart as a man who was taken way too young.
He is survived by his loving wife of 22 years, Joy Wang Nichols; daughter, Ella Nichols, 17; and sons, Liam Nichols, 16, and Finn Nichols, 9. He is also survived by his sister, Jody Nichols Reid (Rob) of Dacula, Ga.; stepmother, Scarlett Nichols of Roanoke; uncle, Curtis Stone (Linda) of Canon City, Colo.; and aunt, Nell Wright of Oklahoma City. He leaves behind his cousins, Julie Wylie (Doug), Jody Spradlin (Chris), Ricky Willis (Leann), Laurie Long (Pat), Greg Stone (Shannon), David Edwards and many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, Voyed Milton Nichols and Norma Jean Stone Nichols; uncle, Corbin Stone; aunt, Judy Harmon; grandparents, Sappy and Lucile Nichols and Norman and Neda Stone.
A graveside service for Milt will be at 1 p.m. CDT Friday, Sept. 10, at New Hope Christian Church, Chambers County Road 237, Wadley (Clacksville).
Due to COVID, the family requests masks be worn and social distancing.
Flowers or plants are welcome, or contributions may be made to Trees Atlanta, The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, or The Rose Center (Mobile, Ala.).
Striffler-Hamby Mortuary, LaGrange.