Jeannett Cooper Nichols, 96, of Atlanta

/ AJT //

 

Jeannett Cooper Nichols

What made our mother, Jeannette Cooper Nichols, unique? Let me count the ways – she’s kind, good, thoughtful, elegant, beautiful, loving, inspiring, caring, strong, patient, brilliant – we could go on all day.  Let’s take a moment to go down memory lane:  On April 6, 1917  Jeannette Cooper was born to two immigrants from Eastern Europe, Fannie Koladner Cooper and I.L. Cooper. She was born above their grocery store on Piedmont Avenue in Atlanta, Ga. 1919.

Esther Lee Cooper was born and Jeannette had an older sister Evelyn to go along with her new sister. In 1920, the Coopers moved to Leeds, Ala., so that I.L. can open a general dry goods store in the growing coal-mining town. 1929 the Coopers moved to Birmingham so the girls can attend Phillips High School.  Having done very well at Phillips High School, Jeannette enrolled at age 16 at the University of Alabama in 1933. Three years later, the 19-year-old beauty obtained her degree in biology with a math minor from the University of Alabama, and won a number of academic awards including the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa cup. Later that year, Jeannette was introduced to Fred Nichols by Fred’s nephew, David Levin. David and Jeannette had been confirmed together at Temple Beth El in Birmingham. Jeannette commenced teaching high school biology in Birmingham at age 19.  In June of 1938, Fred and Jeanette Nichols traveled on the train to Baltimore and took a cab directly to the hospital room of Mr. Cooper. Because of Jewish traditions, if Mr. Cooper had died, the young couple would have been prohibited from marrying for 12 months. Mr. Cooper gave the couple his blessing and a wedding was arranged, including eight boys brought to the hospital room to make up a minyan for the ceremony. The newlyweds moved into their apartment in Southside Birmingham. Unfortunately, once married, Jeannette was forced out of her teaching job by the school board’s rules, to make room for a male teacher. With love in the air, in November of 1938, baby Judith Lynn Nichols was born followed in March of 1941 by Patricia Cooper Nichols. With Arthur on the way 1943, the family moved to a new home on Montevallo Terrace in Crestline Heights. Mom’s first assistant, Sarah Etta Slaughter, arrived to support Mom with raising the children. The 1940s brought growth to dad’s accounting firm, F.W. Nichols & Co., and of course, beautiful blond baby Harol Joan in November 1947. The 1950s brought more success and baby Michael in 1952, and a move to 130 Richmar Drive in 1954.  The 1950s also saw Jeannette leading her Girl Scout troop, being active at Temple Beth El, swimming at the YMHA, and commencing her interest in mental health as a board member of the Alabama Mental Health Association—all while raising five healthy children, helping Fred build his business, and enjoying so many dear friends.  The 1960s saw Judy entering medical school at Jeanette’s encouragement. Mom had bought Judy a real stethoscope when Judy was four years old. In 1961, Jeannette and Fred celebrated Judy’s wedding to Chuck Huizenga, followed by Pat’s wedding in 1963. With only Michael at home and Fred often on the road with clients or building CPA Associates, in 1965, Jeannette enrolled in the Masters Program in Counseling at then Howard University, not being slowed by several moves – to Atlanta and back to Birmingham. Jeannette was awarded her Masters in 1968 from Samford University.  Finally landing on Glencastle in November 1968, Jeannette and Fred quickly began their Atlanta years. Soon there were six granddaughters (Stacey, Audrey and Paige Lefont and Kathryn, Beth and Susie Huizenga) loving their visits to Grandma Jeannette’s where they were given dessert first and last. 1968 also saw Pat finding mom a job at Jewish Family Services, counseling retired men and women who wished to use their expertise and energy to provide services to needy individuals.  Even working, Mom had time to help six granddaughters, and lead and provide sustenance for Sunday dinners, holidays, and the annual family trips.  The 1970s brought more weddings, more graduations, and more travel. With all five of their children finally out of the house, Fred and Jeannette began traveling in earnest to Israel, Europe, Mexico, China, Cambodia, and of course, to India.  The 1975 trip to India to see Arthur was life changing to Jeannette, as Vipassana Meditation helps accelerate the growth of the positive attributes of her love, empathy, and equanimity.  The 1980s brought retirement for Fred and Jeannette and trips to Houston to help Mike and Marcia Nichols with Josh, Lauren, Jessica and Zach, visits to Dallas for Thanksgivings hosted by Pat and Larry Fonts, to Boston to help Chuck and Judy Huizenga, and to Washington to visit Joan and Marshall Wolff. Mom also began taking her new wonderful vegetarian recipes to Palm Springs for the winter.  The 1990s brought two more granddaughters to Jeannette’s life as Phoebe Wolff and Anna Nichols joined the family, as well as the couple’s 60th wedding anniversary in 1999. Mom said often of that party that other women had heard praise from their children and grandchildren, but none had heard the praises given by Jeannette’s other children – daughter-in-law Marcia and sons-in-law Larry, Chuck and Marshall. The new century also brought mom new great grandchildren – Samara, Jacob and  Andrew  Shaz;  Cole Lefont; William, Annabelle, and Juliet Bigger;  Sawyer,  Duncan,  and  Finn  Kilbride;  Nathan, Dahlia,  and Raquelle Ovadia and Dinny Nichols.  But the 2000s saw the real inner strength of Jeannette Nichols as she faced with elegance and equanimity two broken hips, a stroke, and Fred’s passing. Jeannette Nichols’ life has been built on her ability: to live in the present; to grow in good times and bad; to remain equanimous under stress and most of all, her ability to love her friends and family unconditionally, fully and without restraint.  We are all grateful to mom and dad’s friends and family and all those people who consider our mom as their second mom. Special thanks to her nieces and nephews, their book group, their Temple Sinai Rabbis and friends and so many more. Special Thanks and deepest appreciation to mom’s dear, loving  and professional nurses -Michelle Veronica Thomas,, Sharon McCullough, Chalathia Welch- led by the wise, caring and wonderful Lola Tonic. Lola brought great joy in mother’s life.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Fred and Jeannette Nichols Library Fund at Temple Sinai in Atlanta.  Sign an online guest book at www.edressler.com.  Funeral services were held in the Chapel at Temple Sinai, Atlanta at 11 a.m. Thurs., Dec. 19 with  Rabbis Ron Segal and Philip Kranz officiating.  Interment followed at Arlington Memorial Park.  Arrangements by Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care, Atlanta (770) 451-4999