James Edward Nichols

Published 3:41 pm Saturday, May 26, 2018

James Edward Nichols, 90, passed away peacefully on May 19, 2018 after an extended illness and hospice care.  He is survived by his wife, Dr. Jean Simmons Nichols of Oxford; one daughter, Karla Nichols Massey (Randy Massey); two sons, Ron Nichols of Oxford, and Mike Nichols (Terri Matthew) of Temple, Texas; two grandsons, Scott Nichols of Temple  and Matt Nichols (Niloo Nichols) of Huntsville, Ala.; and two great grandsons, Rais Nichols and Ryder Nichols of Huntsville.

James Edward was born April 8, 1928 in Winborn, Miss.  He went to school and graduated from Potts Camp High School where he met his wife of 68 years, Jean Simmons.  After Graduating from Potts Camp in 1947, he went to Northwest Mississippi Junior College where he was a three-sport athlete in baseball, basketball and football.  After a football injury ended a promising baseball career, James Edward graduated from Northwest in 1949.  He taught school at Pinedale High School for two years before continuing his education at the University of Mississippi where he received a bachelor’s degree in Education in 1954.  He returned to Ole Miss for a master’s degree in Education Administration in 1961.

James Edward was a teacher, coach and principal from 1951 through 1968 including stints at Big Creek, Taylor, Eupora, Vardaman and Wood Junior College.  He is best remembered as a women’s basketball coach.  During his 14 years as a women’s coach, his teams won 381 games and lost only 92 for a winning percentage of 81 percent. Ten of his last 11 teams progressed to the state tournament in Jackson making him one of the most successful coaches in the state.

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In 1968, James Edward took a job with the University of Mississippi and moved his family to Oxford, to support his wife who was pursuing her doctoral degree. He remained with Ole Miss for the next 18 years until his retirement in 1986.  During this time and afterward in retirement, James Edward pursued his other passion, which was raising, training and showing Tennessee Walking Horses. His awards include countless Mississippi State Championships and numerous Mid-South championships.  Between 1995 and 2008, his horses won three world championships and several reserve world championships.  In 1995, James Edward won the Walking Horse Owner’s Association high point award, and in 1996 the Mississippi Walking Horse Association elected James Edward into the hall of fame.

A Memorial Service was held Monday, May 21, 2018 at 11 a.m. at the Holly Springs Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Tupelo Christian Preparatory School girl’s basketball program, 5440 Endville Road, Belden, MS 38826.