Roberta Nichols

Memorial Minute for Roberta Nichols

Born August 24, 1944, in Rockville, Conn., to Robert O. and Adelaide (Dustin) Nichols, Roberta Nichols graduated from Suffield High School, Conn. in 1962 and Acadia University in Nova Scotia, where she received a B.A. degree in biology in 1966.  She did graduate work at Plymouth University in the field of elementary education and earned a Master’s degree in counseling psychology from Antioch New England in 1988.

Roberta’s long career in early education began in elementary schools in Fonda, NY, and Plaistow, NH before she moved back to her grandparents’ farm in Contoocook NH and began teaching at Merrimack Valley Day Care Service in Concord in 1970.  She went on to spend 38 years at Merrimack Valley Day Care before retiring in 2008 for health reasons.

Roberta’s kindness, patience, gentleness, and great love for children were conspicuous and well known to all who knew her.  Throughout her career, she worked with disadvantaged children ages one to 12.  Roberta became a lead teacher and mentored many new teachers.  Over her decades of service, she led many teacher workshops dealing with issues in early childhood education.  Sensitive to the needs of others and ever desiring to help them, she became a foster mother and eventually adopted one of the children.  Her unconditional, selfless, and never ending love of her daughter was inspiring to all who knew Roberta.   

Roberta had an openness and goodness about her that reminded us of the pure innocence of a child, yet was tempered by her life experience.  She took great joy in the simple things in life.  Roberta had an infectious laugh, coupled with a sometimes wry sense of humor, and delighted in the company of her family, friends, and colleagues, all of whom she valued highly.  She devoted much of her time to caring for her parents in their declining years, giving up her own home and living with them to care for them.  She delighted in all opportunities to be with her grandchildren.

She loved flowers and rarely missed a flower show.  She also enjoyed the ocean, singing, swimming, travel, letter boxing, browsing yard sales and flea markets, reading, and crafting.  She took great joy in music and cherished any opportunity to attend a concert with friends or a gathering for singing.  We miss hearing her lovely soprano voice in weekly singing before worship and at the annual Carol Sing, which she never missed.

She was a long-time member of the Concord Monthly Meeting and active in causes of peace, justice, and opposition to homelessness.  Roberta truly lived the testimony of simplicity: she designed and sewed her own clothes; she lived frugally; she designed and built her passive solar home.  Roberta was humble, ever gentle, ever sensitive to others, and looked always for ways to serve.  We found her a great source of spiritual wisdom and comfort, much like her mother Adelaide.  Her messages in Meeting conveyed her sense of hope and belief in the power of goodness and love, and her understanding of her own culpability and weaknesses.  She contributed her wisdom to the wider Quaker community by serving on the New England Yearly Meeting Ministry and Counsel Committee and within her local Meeting on Ministry and Counsel. 

When she learned she had only months to live, she embraced her days and made plans to do many of the things she had never had a chance to do before.  She got to swim with dolphins in Hawaii.  She finally experienced the Grand Canyon and the northwest USA and western Canada, and she visited friends and family across North America.  Roberta died quietly Oct. 28, 2008 at the Concord Regional Visiting Nurse Association Hospice House.  In spite of her illness, her final months were as full of courage and grace and light as the rest of her life had been.