Alton Thomas "Tom" Nichols, age 76 of Fairbanks, passed away on Monday, March 8, 2021. Tom was born on February 13, 1945 in Miami Beach, Florida to Edward and Patricia Nichols.
Two days after his 18th birthday, Tom registered with the Selective Service System, on February 15, 1963. He was very proud of his service to his country.
Tom was married twice, the first lasting one year. His second wife, Diane I (Lipowski) Nichols, were married on August 21, 1965 to January 1, 1976. Tom had two children; daughter, Heather Michele Barr, and son Thomas James Nicholas, both of Florida.
Tom was a charter captain of his own boat in Florida and loved being out in the sun on the ocean. It was at this time he met and married Diane. Tom next started up a construction company, and aptly named it Nichols Construction while in Florida.
After his divorce to Diane, he spent a month in Canada, just tooling around and seeing the sights. He loved being up north where the air was a little cooler, but he never lost his love for Florida. Tom wanted to know what the North Country held for him and so up he came to Alaska - and never left.
The first watering hole he stopped at was the Speedway in North Pole and a fella struck up a conversation with him and Tom knew he was "home". Tom had many, many fantastic adventures and stories and his first stop at the Speedway was one of them! Tom worked for about 20 years as a security guard at Tanana Chief's Conference on First Avenue and then went to work for Channel 5 for several more years. Tom was a very skilled carpenter and handyman who loved to paint. It may be cliché, but Tom is that guy who would give you the shirt off his back! Tom never met a stranger. In fact, he had his own business cards printed to hand out to anyone and everyone he met. If you ever received one of those cards - you would always remember the jokester Tom! He could regale you for hours with stories of his adventures of hiking the Brooks Range; and his adventurous spirit which took him driving here, there and everywhere he could in Alaska, all the while keeping meticulous records of the mileage, where he gassed up and the price of fuel. Most of these "road trips" were impromptu, so he always kept his camping gear in the bed of his 1988 Chevy Pickup - which he dearly loved. Hunting and fishing and generally being in the great outdoors was what turned Tom on.
Tom could be a very spiritual man and was eager to learn the history of Alaska Natives and American Indians. Many of his long-term friends were met at Tanana Chiefs Conference. Tom generously donated to St. Joseph's Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota and loved the Legend of the Dreamcatcher. Tom had been fighting cancer, which was diagnosed in August 2020. He underwent Chemotherapy and more recently, radiation treatments which ravaged his body.
Tom will be dearly missed by a host of friends, some of which are named here: Everyone at the Comet Club, many of whom he has now joined, Gary Malone, Everett Evans, "Tark" Tarkington, Larry Rejda, James Blue, Jay West and many others from his American Tire family; Bill Hiland, Tanis Edstrom, all his friends and family from Post 11, Post 57, VFW Post 3629, Trish Wagner, the folks from the television station and Tanana Chiefs Conference and many, many more people, too numerous to mention - you know who you are!
One of Tom's final wishes was to have his cremains scattered over the Brooks Range, for which obtained permission -- to be so scattered on public lands. If anyone knows the pilot that Tom retained to carry out this wish, please call Post 57 at 452-5757 with your contact information.
Please join us for a Celebration of Tom's Life, which will be held at the American Legion Post 57, 1634 S. Cushman Street, Fairbanks, Alaska at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 10, 2021. We would be honored if you would bring any pictures, stories or memories of Tom you wish to share.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Alton Thomas "Tom" Nichols, please visit our floral store.