‘A mayor who loved his city’: Loris mourns loss of its leader

He was more than the City of Loris’ first black mayor — though that was one of his greatest accomplishments.

Henry Nichols was a loyal father, grandfather and husband, plus a U.S. Marine, a hard worker and a man of faith.

Nichols died Tuesday after a nearly two-year battle with cancer. He was 68.

Signing checks while in the hospital and making sure work was done, Nichols was committed to his mayoral role through his illness, said his wife, Veda Nichols.

“He was a mayor who loved his city,” she said. “He was committed to his city. He’s going to be tremendously missed by his family and community.”

One of his greatest strengths was his loyalty to what he loved — his family, the things he believed in and the City of Loris, Veda Nichols said.

And when he entered a room, he would observe, take in his surroundings and think before he would speak, his wife said.

Raised in Loris, Nichols was the son of Lewatha and Daisy Mae Nichols — his father was a truck farmer who was known for his boiled peanuts, and his mother an educator, who also owned a beauty salon.

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Henry Nichols, the first black mayor of the City of Loris, died Feb. 26, 2019. He was 68. Courtesy of the City of Loris

Nichols was a soft-spoken man who had a bright smile, said City of Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy.

“Mayor Henry Nichols loved and gave great service to the City of Loris,” Blain-Bellamy said, adding he will be “sorely missed” in Horry County and statewide. “He actively sought resources and answers to promote progress in Loris wherever he went.”

Veda Nichols calls their family a “blended family” — made up of his three children, her child and four grandchildren.

Nichols was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, and retired after 20 years of service. He went on to be the chief financial officer of the Maryland Department of Health and Human Services, a gubernatorial-appointed position. Nichols then worked at N.C. Agricultural and Technical State University as the assistant vice chancellor for budget, finance and athletics.

Nichols and his wife married in 2007 after dating for three years — the two met at a Memorial Day barbecue. Several years later, they moved to Loris.

He talked about Loris like it was as big as New York City, full of characters and personality.

“I’ve loved it (Loris) through his eyes,” Veda Nichols said.

Growing up and then after returning to Loris, Nichols and his family attended Silent Grove Baptist Church.

Veda Nichols said her husband had strong faith and was surrounded by a praying family while he was ill.

Horry County Councilman Paul Prince, who represents the Loris area, said Nichols came from a well-respected family in the community and worked as hard as he could, even through his cancer battle.

“He kept in touch with me about city stuff and how to improve Loris,” Prince said. “We are gonna miss him. You just can’t say anything bad about him.”

Loris Police Chief Gary Buley said Nichols’ death is a “hard loss” for the Loris community.

“He was very supportive of the police department,” Buley said. “He was open to suggestions and ideas.

Latimer’s Funeral Home is serving the family.

The Sun News Reporter Hannah Strong is passionate about making the world better through what she reports and writes. Strong, who is a Pawleys Island native, is quick to jump on breaking news, profiles stories about people in the community and obituaries. Strong has won four S.C. Press Association first-place awards, including one for enterprise reporting after riding along with police during a homicide. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Winthrop University.