James E. Nichols, 72, died of cancer March 15 at his home in Gainesville, Va. Nichols and his family first moved to Vienna in 1965, and he became involved in town activities. As a computer expert, Nichols was appointed by the Town Council to head a computer feasibility study to see if the town's management requirements were suited for existing computer applications. The study concluded that a computer could be very useful in expediting and improving specific management functions. The study recommended Vienna's first acquisition of a computer, primarily for accounting applications. Today, like most municipalities, Vienna uses computers throughout its operations, covering numerous applications. Thus, Nichols' pioneering efforts will have lasting impact in Vienna government operations.
Nichols was appointed by the Town Council to the Board of Zoning Appeals, where he served until a job relocation transferred him to Ft. Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska in 1969. His work in Alaska, from 1969-1972, was recognized by receipt of the government's Civilian Meritorious Medal for Outstanding Service. Following his service in Alaska, Nichols returned to Vienna, where he remained until his retirement in 1989.
Nichols was employed as a computer specialist by the Army Map Service, which was later known as the Defense Mapping Agency and is now the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.
Since his retirement from federal service, Nichols enjoyed many outdoor recreational activities, including motorcycling and sailing. He was a member of SOS Inc. and sailed extensively on the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
Nichols was born in Prosperity, Ark. He is survived by his wife of 13 years, Susan, of Gainesville, and his mother, Freeda, and sister, Arrilla Reel, both of Arkansas. Also surviving are grown children Nancy Duggan of Warrenton, Va., and three sons, James of Baltimore, Jeffrey of Warrenton and Steven of Potomac Falls, Va. Nichols also had four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Donations may be made to the Make-A-Wish foundation at www.wish.org.