COLUMBIA — Jerry Nichols was a hunter.
In fact, he still is. At his request, he will be buried in his hunting clothes inside a casket lined with camouflage.
Mr. Nichols loved hunting, an activity he shared with his father and two brothers.
"Me and my brother hunted together from the time I could start hunting until last year," his brother, Vince Nichols, said.
Jerry Ray Nichols Sr. of Columbia died Thursday, March 27, 2014, from kidney failure. He was 61.
He was born April 21, 1952 in Columbia to Howard V. Nichols and Amy (Morris) Nichols.
A life-long Columbia resident, he attended Ridgeway Elementary, Jefferson Middle School and graduated from Hickman High School in 1971.
From a young age, Mr. Nichols was always close to his siblings. His sister, Jackie Kreigh, said she fondly recalls horsing around with her brother in their childhood.
"Jerry would chase me through the house and I'd run out the back door, I would outrun him and go to the front door and lock it and go to the back door and lock him out," she said. "I used to do that over and over again."
His youngest sibling, Vince Nichols, remembers raucous hunting trips with Mr. Nichols, his brother David Nichols and their father, Howard V. Nichols.
"When I was 14 years old, I shot my first deer ever, a big, 14-point buck. We happened to be up in the brush and over a hill, it was hard to get out," he said. "My two older brothers were helping to drag the buck out of the woods, and the whole time, my brothers were arguing about who was pulling harder, 'You're not pulling hard enough!' said one. 'No you're not pulling hard enough!' said the other."
After graduation, Mr. Nichols left Columbia to serve in the U.S. Air Force. He was stationed in Honolulu for several years before returning to Columbia in 1976.
When he returned, he took a job at MU, where he was a senior computer programmer for 32 years, a position he held with great pride until retirement in 2010.
Kreigh remembers him as selfless and always willing to lend a hand.
"Whenever I needed help after Dad died, I'd call my brother Jerry," she said. "He'd always say 'OK, Sis.' He was a very good-hearted man."
Vince Nichols said he will miss his hunting and fishing partner.
"I always looked forward to November whenever hunting season would come around," he said. "It was the family deal — he always looked forward to deer season."
Kreigh said she will ultimately remember her brother by his amiable appearance and warm personality.
"He had beautiful blue eyes and a really nice smile. He was just a good guy," she said.
Mr. Nichols is survived by his mother, Amy (Morris) Nichols; his sister, Jackie Kreigh; two brothers, David Nichols and Vince Nichols; two sons, Ray Nichols and Dean Nichols; a daughter, Vena Nichols; four grandchildren, Kayden Nichols, Kaitlyn Nichols, Kayla Nichols and Kristin Nichols; a nephew, Daniel Nichols; and two nieces, Marissa Nichols and SheyAnne Nichols.
His father, Howard V. Nichols, died earlier.
Visitation will be from 1 to 2 p.m. Tuesday at Nilson Funeral Home, 5611 St. Charles Road. Services will follow at the funeral home.
Condolences can be posted at nilsonfuneralhome.com.