Chapter Eternal: Gordon H. Nichol, UC-Berkeley ’32

May 14, 2010

Brother Gordon Hilton Nichol (UC-Berkeley ’32), who during World War II helped to found a fraternity of religious military officers that still thrives today, died April 29 at his Windsor home.

He was 96 and died of natural causes, his wife said.

Nichol was born Dec 13, 1913 in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, the son of a career U.S. Army officer. As a boy he lived at military bases across the United States. With each transfer, Nichol and his father would drive to their new home, with Nichol assuming the role of map reader and navigator.

That experience cemented in Nichol a love of maps and map reading, leading him to compile a large collection of cartographic materials. He also was a student of geography, with an ability to pinpoint obscure locations around the globe.

In his late teenage years, his family moved to the Presidio military base in San Francisco where Nichol graduated from Galileo High School in 1931. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1936 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.

He was a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and soon after graduating, attended a Chi Omega Sorority dance where he met the woman who would become his wife for the next 68 years, Lorraine McCall.

“I was attracted to him very much,” she said. “He was such a gentleman and he was older than the college boys so he had a little polish.”

After graduating, Nichol took a job in sales for Columbia Steel, which later became the US Steel Corporation.

He remained with the company, moving to Portland, Ore., Los Angeles, San Francisco and Pittsburg, Pa. and rising into management ranks, until he retired in 1978 and moved to Windsor.

He and McCall were married in 1942 in Bethesda, Md. He had been commissioned in the Army Reserve after going through the ROTCprogram at Berkeley and was on active duty World War II, stationed with Army ground forces in Washington.

In Washington, Nichol, a lifelong Presbyterian, and a dozen British and American military officers formed a Bible study group, the Officers’ Christian Fellowship, that today numbers over 12,000 members.

“They met weekly at General Hayes Kroner’s home and always had a chocolate cake and very strong tea in honor of the British,”Lorraine Nichol said.

In 1945, the day after the war ended, Nichol was ordered to Shanghai, China, where he spent a year helping to coordinate the return of U.S. troops.

He left the military with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Nichol’s survivors also include his daughters Sue Nichol, of Davis, and Nanci Miller, of Castro Valley.


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