Norma Nichols

Open House Luncheon

1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Saturday, May 11, 2024
Nichols Residence
12 Cedars Road
Caldwell, New Jersey, United States

Memorial Service

Will Be Held at a Later Date

Obituary of Norma Estella Nichols

Norma Estella Nichols (nee Sewall) passed away peacefully of old age in the morning of Monday, April 15th under hospice care at Care One Assisted Living in Livingston.

Norma was born on September 29, 1931 to John Noble Sewall and Estella Marshall Sewall in Montclair, New Jersey where she was raised and attended public schools along with her older brother John. At Montclair High School, she met the athletic and charming Robert (Nick) Nichols. Upon graduation Norma attended Rutgers University to pursue a degree in education while Nick joined the US Marines Corps. They exchanged love letters while he was in service and married soon after his honorable discharge, on September 6, 1952.

The newlyweds both pursued careers in education. Norma taught second grade at Ashland School in East Orange and retired from the East Orange School District as a Reading Resource Teacher. Nick spent his career teaching and serving as Athletic Director at Bloomfield College. 

The arts aficionado Norma adored opera, theater, music and poetry, and the sports encyclopedia Nick raised four sons in Maplewood: Robert Jay Nichols, Jon (Ford)  Beresford Nichols, Russell K. Nichols and Victor M. Nichols. She was a lifelong parishioner of the Episcopal Church of St. Andrew & Holy Communion in South Orange.

After Nick passed away in 2009, Norma remained in her beloved home until recently when she became too frail to live on her own. As family gathered to help her sort her belongings for her move to assisted living, they were astonished to find a treasure trove of her most precious belongings - hundreds of cards and letters from classrooms she visited, people she treated to the opera or theater, former students who tracked her down decades later to let her know how much she meant to them, a book written by a young man thanking her for teaching him to read, her two granddaughters’ college essays written about her, notes from the little girl next door thanking her for gifts and tea parties, and many more beautiful sentiments to a woman who touched everyone in her orbit. As beautiful on the outside as on the inside, Norma “Nana” Nichols twinkly eyes and dimpled smile lit up every room she graced in her 92 years.

Norma was predeceased by her parents, brother John and son Ford. She will be sorely missed by legions of extended family, friends, students, neighbors and most dearly by her son Jay of West Orange, son and daughter-in-law Russell and Susy of Caldwell, son and daughter-in-law Victor and Jen of Maplewood and her and Papa Nick’s most dearly cherished granddaughters Emily (husband Danny Wacha) of West Orange and Melissa (partner Jerome Bernstein) of Broomfield, CO.

A service will be held a later date. Donations may be made in Norma’s honor to NJPAC. A longtime supporting member, she attended its opening night gala in 1996 and enjoyed treating family and friends to many performances throughout the years. Nick was happy to chauffeur the patrons - if the game he was watching wasn’t a playoff.  


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