Kenwood Curtis Nichols of Selma, AL passed away on Thursday, June 23, 2022 at the age of 82. He died peacefully at home of natural causes, surrounded by family and friends. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, uncle, great uncle and friend to many.
Kenwood C. Nichols was born July 19, 1939, to father Edwin Nichols and mother Lila Mae Nichols at his parents' farm in Dallas County, AL. He was the oldest of four children: Ken, Joan, Sherry, and James Dale. When Ken was 13 years old his father gave him the use of 100 acres of marginal cropland and timberland that was part of the family farm. Ken planted pine trees and managed the young stand himself, performing the planting, pruning, thinning and harvesting. He was at this time a high school student and was active in the Future Farmers of America. He entered his timber stand in statewide forestry and agriculture competitions during each year of high school, finishing fourth, third, second and finally, first in the state for his management of his property. During this time period he planted some 60,500 seedlings. Ken graduated from Suttle High School in Perry County in 1957 and his work earned him a scholarship to Auburn University. He graduated from Auburn in 1961 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Management. Ken then served in the Army before enrolling in the autumn of 1962 at Duke University, again on a scholarship. He completed his studies in 1964 with a Masters degree in Forestry Business Management. Ken had an unparalleled work ethic and held a deep respect for the power of a good education.
Upon receiving his Masters degree in 1964, Ken embarked on his career path in the pulp and paper industry. He joined Buckeye Sales Corporation, a Procter & Gamble subsidiary based in Perry, FL in 1964. Buckeye was in the timberlands and pulp businesses and Ken was assigned to the company's timber operations. In mid-1966 Ken accepted a position with MacMillan Bloedel, a major Canadian forest products concern which at that time was establishing operations in the southern United States. From 1966 to 1969 he worked for MacMillan Bloedel in Pine Hill, AL, where the company was developing an integrated forest products operation including timberlands, a sawmill, and plywood and linerboard production plants. Ken was involved in the planning and development of these facilities. He was then transferred to the corporation's headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia, where his positions included corporate finance, operations research, and assistant to the vice chairman. He had never been to the west coast before and was in awe of its natural beauty. In September of 1972, Ken left MacMillan Bloedel for an exciting job opportunity in the Timberlands Division of Champion International Corporation. Champion was one of the nation's leading domestic producers of paper, and also had substantial plywood and lumbering operations. Ken worked for the company, which was based in Stamford CT, for 28 years and felt he really found a home at Champion; he enjoyed his career there immensely. In 1989 Ken became the Vice Chairman and chief accounting officer of the corporation, as well as a member of its Board of Directors. From 1983 to 1989 he was Champion's chief accounting officer and held the rank of senior vice president. From 1996 to 2000 he served as Vice Chair and Executive Officer. Ken liked to say that it was his ability to outwork others that led to his corporate success.
It was during his time in Vancouver, B.C. that he met his future wife, a beautiful young woman from England, Joanna Carr-Ellison. Joanna and Ken were married in Vancouver, B.C. in August 1970 and went on to have 2 daughters, Fiona and Clare, who they raised in Stamford, CT. The family enjoyed annual visits to the small coastal village in Northumberland, England, where Joanna was born and raised. Ken had a great affinity for this beautiful part of the world.
Ken retired from his career at Champion International in June 2000 and fulfilled his long time dream of moving back to the family farm where he grew up in Dallas County. He spent the last 22 years of his life enjoying his retirement, spending time with friends and family and looking after his farm and timberlands. In addition, he spent 10 years volunteering for Auburn University, including working on both the national steering committee for the University's "It Begins at Auburn" Campaign and the Auburn University Foundation Board; from 2001 to 2008 he served as Chairman of the Development Team for the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. From 2000 on he served as an active board member for the Georgia Alabama Land Trust, taking on various roles including Chairman of the Finance Committee, Vice President and President. He was also a long time board member of the Longleaf Alliance.
Ken is survived by his wife, Joanna Nichols of Selma, their daughters, Fiona N. Rohde (David) of Stamford, CT and Clare N. Drebitko (Jason) of Woodstock, VT; 5 grandchildren, Emma Rohde, Christopher Rohde, William Drebitko, Lucy Drebitko, and Violet Drebitko; his sister Sherry N. Twilley of Prattville, AL; nieces, Pamela T. Dennis of Prattville, AL, Kelli Prescott (Phillip) of Valley Grande, AL, Kimberley N. Talley of Scottsboro, AL, and Tanner L. Chapman of Tuscaloosa, AL, and numerous other cousins, nieces, nephews, and wonderful family friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Lila Mae and Edwin NIchols, his sister, Joan N. Miller, and his brother, James Dale Nichols.
Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, June 28th at 11:00 AM at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Selma, AL. The family will greet friends prior to the service at St. Paul's Episcopal Church from 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM. In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to the Georgia Alabama Land Trust, 226 Old Ladiga Rd, Piedmont, AL 36272 www.galandtrust.org, or the Longleaf Alliance, 12130 Dixon Center Rd, Andalusia, AL 36420.
Final care and arrangements have been faithfully entrusted to the care of Selma Funeral Home. Previous Events Receive Friends JUN 28.
AM (Cst) St. Paul's Episcopal Church 210 Lauderdale St. Selma, AL 36701
Funeral Sevice JUN 28.
AM (CT) St. Paul's Episcopal Church 210 Lauderdale St. Selma, AL 36701