Remembering Rudy Nichols
Updated: Jul 1
By Jennifer Ersalesi and Rod Leith
Photo credits: Gary Nichols
Rudolph L. Nichols was born on August 29, 1930 (almost 90 years old). His many friends knew him as “Rudy.” Rudy Nichols passed away on June 22nd. He grew up in Rutherford and was active in the Hawkeyes Athletic Club, founded in 1944 for African-American youths engaged in all sports. In 1946, Rudy was a member of the Hawkeyes when they held a record of 12-1 and were champions in the Rutherford YMCA-Church League. He was proud of his involvement and participation from the Eastern Way neighborhood. After he graduated from Rutherford High School, he joined the US. Marine Corps. He was a veteran of the Korean War and was awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded in action.
Rudy’s family were long-time Rutherford residents. His grandfather, born in 1875, settled in Rutherford in the 1920s on Meadow Road, where he and his wife, Louise, owned their home at 74 Meadow Road. Rudy’s father and mother, William and Emma, brought Rudy up in their home at 96 Meadow Road. Rudy was proud of his grandfather’s work with Christopher Walton, an African-American carpenter-builder who built many homes in Rutherford. Although his grandfather was an active member of Mount Ararat Baptist Church, Rudy joined the John Wesley African Methodist-Episcopal Church in East Rutherford, where he had been active up to recent years. Rudy was a graduate of Rutherford High School where he participated in Athletics. He was an active member of the RHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
Rudy was an active member of Post 453, where he had also served as Commander. He was involved with the three Veterans Alliance Posts and participated in many of their activities throughout his life. Veterans Alliance American Legion Post 453 Commander, Charlie Gunn explained, “(Rudy was) A Peacemaker, he lived the U.S.M.C. motto, ‘Always Faithful’. May He Rest in Peace.”
Rudy’s family was among the prominent black families who joined in the celebration of the Eastern way neighborhood settlers when it was held in 1992. He was part of the group that installed a plaque on May 23, 1992, on Eastern Way, by Wahl Field, “dedicated to the African-Americans residing in the Eastern Way Area since 1900.” After he returned from Korea, Rudy attended the Cambridge School of Broadcasting to study radio announcing and management. He later was employed as a researcher and analyst for Medical Economics.
Friend of Rudy’s, Bill Galloway, told TIR, “Rudy lived most of his life here in town. He was active in town most of his life and was a popular guy. He was proud to live here.”
Gary Nichols, Rudy Nichols’ son, spoke about the passing of his father on social media, “It is with some sadness, but great Joy in knowing God that I am letting you know that mine and Douglas’s father Rudy Nichols has transitioned to be with Jesus this morning. My father was one of kind. He loved God and his family. He loved his wife and he passed on his wedding anniversary and Father’s Day weekend, which I think is awesome. He loved Rutherford and lived here his whole life and he loved being a Marine and served his country even when he could not eat in certain places around the south while in boot camp. But never complained, but in everything he trusted God. He taught us to win at everything, but when you lose just keep getting up and moving forward. We love you Pop.”