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Reverend James B. Nicholson

Posted: Wednesday, December 30th, 2009 at 6:55 am

James NicholsonVisitation:
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
12:00 PM until 2:00 PM
Visitation will begin at 12:00 pm Tuesday
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
12:00 PM until 2:00 PM
Family will receive friends
United Methodist Church
Washington, Iowa
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
2:00 PM
United Methodist Church
206 West Second Street
Washington, Iowa

NORTH ENGLISH, Iowa — James B, Nicholson, 86, a retired United Methodist minister and one of the original 28 United Methodist ministers in Mississippi who signed the document “Born of Conviction”, taking a stand against racism, went to his Heavenly home on Christmas Day.

In January 1963, Rev. Nicholson, along with the 27 other clergy, drafted, signed and published a document titled “Born of Conviction” which helped fuel the civil rights movement that began to take place in Mississippi. At that time they faced wide criticism for their actions; “some were ousted from their congregation and faced death threats, some left freely, and some stayed and fought”1. The Mississippi United Methodist Annual Conference publicly welcomed twenty of the remaining members of the group in 2005 honoring them and the changes made in the United Methodist Church in the last four decades.

Rev. Nicholson or “Big Daddy” as he was fondly called, shared his love of the outdoors and was instrumental in the Iowa United Methodist camping program as he helped develop many adventure camps for the Iowa Conference during the 70s and 80s. He had a spiritual impact on hundreds of Iowa youth as they fished and canoed through the Canadian waters learning about love and faith through Jesus Christ. James also helped develop adventure camps to Brazil in the 1970s and was a staunch supporter of the Iowa United Methodist camping program.

He served in the United States Merchant Marines during World War II and was presented his service pin in 2003, following action by the United States Congress acknowledging the role of the Merchant Marines in the war’s victory.
Born August 15, 1923 in Lauderdale, MS, he was the son of Rev. T.E. and Sara Prisock Nicholson. He was a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. He married Alice Matilda Lee Walker on Feb 24, 1945. She preceded him in death April 27, 1974. He married Hilda Gerdes Denly on Jan 25, 1980; she preceded him in death March 22, 2007. He was also preceded in death by a son, Howard Franklin Nicholson of Iowa City, Iowa on Oct. 17, 2007, as well as his parents, brother Cecil Nicholson and sister Alene Nicholson Felder.

James is survived by one son, James Bennett Nicholson, II (Pat) of Slidell, LA and one daughter, Teresa Fleming (David) of North English, IA, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. James never knew a stranger and welcomed many into his family fold. Dear to his heart include Sarah (Bob) Gorrell, a niece who became like a daughter to him from Taylorsville, MS. From the blended family he and Hilda proudly shared, he leaves two sons, Karl Denly (Bonnie) of Audubon, MN, David Denly of Richland, IA and daughter-in-law, Donna Denly of Sigourney, seven grandchildren and many great-grandchildren. James is also survived by two brothers Eugene Nicholson (Blanche) of Greensboro, NC and Rev. Charles Nicholson (Dimple) of Lake Junaluska, NC, two sisters Jeanette Williams of Trussville, AL and Georgia Lane (Willie) of Collins, MS, and sister-in-law Mildred Nicholson of Meridian, MS, as well as many nieces and nephews.

Prior to his retirement, Rev. Nicholson pastored churches in Texas, Mississippi and Iowa. He donated his body to The University of Iowa Hospitals, and will be interred at Fellowship Cemetery in Taylorsville, MS at a later time. A Celebration of Life service will be held Tuesday January 5, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. at the United Methodist Church in Washington, IA. The family will receive friends from 12:00 pm until 2:00 pm on Tuesday at the United Methodist Church.

Arrangements are being made through the Jones – Eden Funeral Home in Washington, Iowa. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be offered to the Halcyon House Good Samaritan Fund, Washington, IA, or Iowa UMC Campership Endowment Fund. Memorials can be mailed to the Jones – Eden Funeral Home at 116 East Main Street, Washington IA 52353. Online condolences may be sent for James’ family through the web at and click on obituaries.

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