Dr. W. Randolph Nichols

Published 4:40 pm Wednesday, June 28, 2017

CHESAPEAKE, VA – Dr. W. Randolph Nichols, 80, passed away on Monday, June 26, 207 in Chesapeake, VA.

Born in Ahoskie, NC, he was the son of the late Paul and Bernice Lassiter Nichols, and was also predeceased by a brother, Dennis Nichols.

Dr. Nichols obtained both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a doctorate from the University of Virginia. Dr. Nichols was employed by Chesapeake Public Schools, formerly Norfolk County, his entire professional career. He began his career in 1959 as a teacher and


track coach at Great Bridge High School. He became the system’s director of research, guidance and testing in 1966, then an assistant superintendent, then deputy superintendent, before becoming head of the school division in 1995. Upon his retirement, Dr. Nichols, or “Dr. Nick,” as his staff called him, had spent 51 years with the school division, serving 15 years as superintendent. He was the longest-serving superintendent in South Hampton Roads. He also worked as an adjunct professor at Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, and George Washington University.  Dr. Nichols’ commitment to public education and, above all, to the children of Chesapeake has been captured in his vision statement “To educate all the children of all the people”. For Dr. W. Randolph Nichols, education was a passion that must be shared. Indeed, for W. Randolph Nichols, education is a way of life. 

In recognition of his educational leadership in Chesapeake Public Schools and across the state, Dr. Nichols was honored as the 2003 Virginia State Superintendent of the Year, and he was one of the four finalists for the National Superintendent of the Year. He received numerous awards over the years, but was most proud of the 1999 Child Advocacy Award from the Comprehensive Health Investment Project (CHIP) for his firm belief in the ability of educators to make a difference in the lives of children, and the 1999 NEA-UAW/SATURN Partnership Award for developing a highly successful partnership with the Chesapeake Education Association (CEA). Also, he received national recognition by publishing articles in professional journals. Early in his career he received the annual award presented by the Virginia Educational Research Association for outstanding research conducted in Virginia.

Survivors include his wife, Virginia Susan Nichols; a daughter, Lori Nichols Martin and husband Steve; a son, C. Todd Nichols and wife Nicole; grandchildren, Madison Martin, Macy Martin, McKenna Martin, Max Martin, Hunter Nichols and Colton Nichols; a brother, Gene Nichols and wife Eda; sisters, Alice Cale, Janice Parker and Sandra Byrum and husband Johnny; a sister-in-law, Peggy Nichols; nephews, Steven, David, John, Kevin and Jamie; nieces, Kim, Denise, Julie, Amy, as well as many cousins and extended family.    

A funeral service will be conducted at 12 noon on Saturday, July 1, 2017 at Great Bridge Baptist Church, 640 Battlefield Blvd, S, Chesapeake, VA 23322.  Rev. Thomas L. Mercer will officiate.  Interment will follow in Chesapeake Memorial Gardens.

The family will receive friends from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., Friday at the church.

Memorial contributions may be made to the W. Randolph Nichols Scholarship Fund, 312 Cedar Road, Chesapeake, VA 23322.  This fund was established in 2002, to honor Dr. Nick, and awards a scholarship every year to exceptional Chesapeake high school seniors in each of our seven high schools.

Family and friends are invited to share memories and sign the online guestbook at www.omanfh.com.