In Memoriam: Guy Nichols


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with deep sorrow the death on June 18, 2014 of former Chairman of the Board, Life Trustee and Honorary Member, Guy W. Nichols.  Guy and his wife Shirley became WHOI Associates in 1976; he became a member of the Fye Society in 1993.  Guy was elected a Member of the Corporation in 1976; he was elected a Trustee in 1981.  Guy served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1985 to 1995, and also served on numerous committees: Nominating (former Chair); Executive (former Chair); Development; Capital Campaign; Ships Ad Hoc; and the Access to the Sea Committee.  Guy participated in the WHOI Science Partnership Program, and always said that it was the scientists and engineers that most attracted him to WHOI.  Guy worked diligently as an advocate of the Institution; throughout the years, he provided guest memberships and sponsored memberships in the Associates Program to over sixty individuals. 

During his time as Chairman of the Board, Guy helped lead the Institution’s first capital campaign, raising nearly $55 million.  He provided counsel as WHOI transformed from a Cold War funding model that relied almost entirely on federal dollars to a blend of government grants and private donations in the leaner 1990s.  Guy saw two of the Institution’s three ships get retrofitted and refurbished, and he helped WHOI become more selective and competitive in its recruiting and tenure practices.  In 1995, Guy became the fourth recipient of the Cecil H. Green Award, the highest honor awarded by the Institution for “outstanding contributions to oceanographic research at WHOI.” 

Guy Warren Nichols was born October 27, 1925 in Colchester, Vermont.  He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, after which he earned a BS in civil engineering from the University of Vermont and a master’s degree in business administration from MIT’s Sloan Program.  Guy also received honorary degrees from Nichols College and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  In 1975 he was presented the first Albert J. Schwieger Award for Professional Achievement from the School of Industrial Management at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. 

Guy began his career with New England Electric System (NEES) in 1947.  Over his 37-year tenure with NEES, he served as its Executive Vice President, President, and CEO, and he was Chairman of the Board from 1978 until his retirement in 1984.  He also served as a board member of numerous organizations, including: Amaresco, Inc.; Allmerica Financial; Bank of Boston; Hanover Insurance; Nashua Corp.; New England Aquarium; Noble Affiliates, Inc.; Equitable Resources, Inc.; and the Vermont Historical Society.  In 1983 he was honored as New Englander of the Year by the New England Council.  Guy was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  An avid outdoorsman, he loved traveling, skiing, and sailing. 

In addition to his wife of sixty-seven years, Shirley (Hibbard) Nichols, Guy is survived by his three daughters: Pamela “Pam” Nichols; Gail Nichols; and Sally Nichols-Sharpe; three grandsons; four great-grandchildren; and a sister, Dawn Hazelett. 

There will be no services.  To honor Guy, the family has suggested that donations be made to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Development Office, MS#40, Woods Hole, MA 02543.  


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