Nannetta Jean ‘Nan’ Nicholls

Feb. 23, 1930 – Feb. 16, 2024

Nannetta Jean “Nan” Nicholls died February 16, 2024.

Nan was born on February 23, 1930, in Arlington, South Dakota. She was the first child born to Clifford Larson and Louise Schmidt Larson. Her brother, James Larson, joined the family three years later. The family moved to Lovell when she was a young girl, and she lived in the Lovell and Cowley area until her death. 

Family became an important part of her life at an early age. Her mother’s family, the Schmidts, lived in Lovell, and she grew up around her grandparents and many aunts, uncles and cousins. After her parents’ divorce when Nan was 12 years old, these relatives played an even larger part in her life. 

She was confirmed a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church when she was 14. She taught Sunday School for many years and faithfully drove her children to confirmation classes so they could be confirmed also.

Nan graduated from Lovell High School in 1948 and moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to live with her father’s family. She had not seen any of the Larson family since she was a young girl. Meeting and getting to know her grandparents Nels and Teresa Larson and the Larson family was an important time in her life.

Nan moved back to Lovell and began working at the Lovell Drug, where she had worked during high school. She caught the eye of a tall, slim, good-looking cowboy, but Nan wasn’t sure she wanted anything to do with him. He was one of those Nicholls boys, and some of them had a bit of a wild reputation. Don’s piercing blue eyes and sly smile soon won her over, and they were married on August 16, 1949.

Don and Nan moved to Cowley in 1953 and raised their four children in a small house on Main Street. Don worked away from home, so the responsibility of raising their family fell mainly to Nan. Out of necessity she began sewing and became an accomplished seamstress. She also loved to crochet and made many afghans and baby blankets.

After their children were raised, Nan began traveling with Don to his job sites, spending time in Hulett, Big Piney and other small towns in Wyoming. Nan said these were some of the best times in her marriage. Sadly, this didn’t last when Don was diagnosed with cancer in 1985 and passed away 10 months later. Nan became a widow at the young age of 56.

After Don’s death Nan did some traveling with Tim and Jerri Townsend and then with Maxine Wambeke. She stayed in Cowley until 1993 when she moved to Lovell in order to be closer to her daughters Brenda and Jennie and their families. Her family became even more important to her, and she loved watching her grandkids and then great-grandchildren in their many activities. She enjoyed visiting Susan and her family in Montana and Jim and his boys in Colorado.

Nan loved flowers and gardening and continued planting flowers until the last year of her life. When it became too hard for her to drag a hose around to water them, plastic flowers were put in some of her pots, however, she was caught several times washing the flowers and watering the soil because as she said, “It looks better when the dirt is wet.”

Nan enjoyed relatively good health until her 90th year. Crippling arthritis in her hands made it impossible for her to crochet and sew. Her arthritic knees made it hard for her to take the walks she had always enjoyed and to work in her yard. Nan was an avid reader, but macular degeneration took away her ability to read. She was still able to use her iPad, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones on Facebook. Throughout all this she remained happy, complained very little and still loved her life.

When her heart started failing, she made the decision to have valve replacement surgery at the age of 93. Sadly, complications from surgery took her life sooner than she wanted. We are thankful that many members of her family were able to visit her in the last few weeks of her life.

Her son, Jim, said this about Nan: “She was a wonderful mother and probably an even better grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother. She was strong, loving and often a little stubborn.

We will miss you, Mom, but are happy you have found peace and freedom from the pain you have been suffering.”

Preceding Nan in death were her parents, husband Don Nicholls, brother Jim Larson, son-in-law Dave Smith and two great-grandchildren, Kaitlin and Evan Bryson. 

She is survived by her daughters, Susan (Ken) Acton, Brenda (Bill) Pearce and Jennie (Dan) Beal; son Jim (Joni) Nicholls; sisters-in-law Linda Larson and Loretta Nicholls; brother-in-law Dave (Marlene) Nicholls; grandchildren Jeff Acton, Kim Yates, Cami Rogers, Kirsten Bryson, Natalie Rosebrock, DJ Nicholls, Teresa Nixon, Stephanie Brimhall, Mike Nicholls, Colette Slyker, Nick Wardell, Chris Nicholls, Kevin Wardell and Nathan Beal; 29 great-grandchildren; four great-great-grandchildren; and many beloved nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, Feb. 24, at 10 a.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church. A viewing will be held before the service at 9 a.m. at the church. Burial will take place after the service in the Cowley Cemetery.