News Archive

College Mourns Longtime Supporter, Friend

John Nichols, former college trustee, was known as pioneering oil and natural gas exploration leader

8/4/2008 12:06:23 PM


LYNCHBURG – Randolph College joins the nation in mourning the death of John Nichols. Nichols, who was 93, died Aug. 3 after a lengthy illness.

A pioneering oil and natural gas exploration leader, Nichols co-founded what is now Oklahoma’s largest publicly-traded company, Devon Energy Corporation.

“Our greatest condolences go to the Nichols family,” said John E. Klein, president of Randolph College. “John and his wife Mary, who is a member of the Class of 1937, have been longtime supporters, both financially and with their time. Their generosity has benefited a number of students and the campus community as a whole. We offer our thoughts and prayers along with thousands of others who will greatly miss this exceptional man.”

Nichols was named by Hart Publications as one of the One Hundred Most Influential People in Petroleum in the 20th Century. He co-founded Devon Energy, one of the world's leading independent oil and gas producers, and was named chairman emeritus in 1999. He was a founding partner of Blackwood & Nichols Company, which developed the conventional reserves in the Northeast Blanco Unit of the San Juan Basin. A non-practicing CPA, Nichols used his knowledge of tax laws to create the world's first public oil and gas drilling fund registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1950.

Nichols served as a trustee for Randolph-Macon Woman's College from 1965 through 1985 and was awarded emeritus status upon his retirement. During his tenure, he sat on the Finance Committee and chaired the Development Committee. He also chaired the Investment Committee and served as an advisor to that group as an emeritus trustee. His daughter, Betty Nichols Street `66, is also an emeritus member of the Board of Trustees.

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CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of College Relations