Sammy Ray Nichols

February 28, 1947 ~ May 13, 2022 (age 75)


Sammy Ray Nichols of Ashford, passed into the arms of his
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Friday, May 13, 2022. In his 75
years, he lived a full life, enriched by a loving family and faithful
friends. He was most proud of "his girls", fanatical about his
grandsons, and masterful at fixing or building just about anything.
He was a believer in the clear difference between right and wrong, a
proud veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a patriot who
loved America. Most of all though, he loved Jesus and His
transformational grace and mercy. Today and for eternity, Sam is
whole and well with the Lord.

Sam was born February 28, 1947 to Earnest and Louise
Nichols from Andalusia, Alabama. He was the third of four sons
born to Earnest and Louise. They attended the First Baptist Church
of Andalusia and Sam attended Andalusia City Schools where he
graduated in 1965.

After graduating from Andalusia High School, he enrolled at
Troy State University for the fall term of 1965. He successfully
completed his freshman year then spent his summer working
construction to pay for his education. He returned to Troy State the
following fall. During this time, the Vietnam War had begun and
many young men were being drafted or enlisted into the Armed
Forces of the United States of America. Still at this time, Sam was
not convinced of his academic goals and decided it was best for him
to join the military.

In October of 1966, Sam walked into the admissions office at
Troy State University and withdrew from school. He then
hitch-hiked to Montgomery, Alabama where he enlisted into the
Marine Corps and hitchhiked his way back to Andalusia. On
January 2, 1967, Sam reported to Paris Island, South Carolina for
basic training and in March of 1967 he graduated from recruit training.
He was second out of five in a platoon of seventy-five that
received meritorious promotion for being an outstanding graduate.
In April of 1967, Sam received orders to transfer to California
for additional training, and in August of 1967 he was transferred to
Southeast Asia to begin his tour of duty in Vietnam. Sam was a field
radio operator for field artillery fire. He was then assigned to the 3rd
Marine Division and 1st Battalion 4th Marine Regiment. During
Sam's thirteen-month tour, he received four Vietnam Bronze
Campaign Stars for participation in four major- offensive combat

In June of 1968, Sam was medevaced to a Marine Corps Field
Hospital in Dong Ha, South Vietnam, suffering from malaria. He
was then transferred to a United States Hospital Ship, the U.S.S.
Repose, where he spent three weeks. Sam returned to South
Vietnam once he recovered. On August 20, 1968, Sam's tour ended
and he returned back to the U.S. where he spent the remaining year
and a half of his enlistment at New River Air Station in
Jacksonville, North Carolina.

After Sam's enlistment ended, he enrolled back into Troy State
University in January of 1970. Sam graduated with a degree in
Business Administration and Marketing in 1972. He soon realized
that business was not his calling and felt a deep desire to pursue an
educational degree.

It was Sam's good fortune to meet the love of his life, Ellen in February
of 1971, while in Troy. They met on a blind date. Sam remembers throwing
pebbles at her window at Shackleford Hall to let her know he was outside.
Sam asked Ellen to marry him soon after they began dating. In June 1971,
Sam and Ellen were married. He graduated from Troy State University where
he was certified to teach. This began his 37-year career in education. From 1973-1974
Sam was employed as Assistant Principal at Geneva County High
School. He then moved to Dothan and continued his career as an
Assistant Principal at Highlands Elementary from 1975 until 1980.
He next transferred to become the principal of Honeysuckle Middle

Sam continued to pursue advanced degrees. He earned his
Master's Degree and Educational Specialist Degree from Troy State
University. He received his doctorate degree from The University
of Sarasota in 1994. Sam transferred from Honeysuckle Middle
School to The Dothan City Schools district office where he was the
Director of Elementary Schools. In 1997 he was promoted to
Deputy Superintendent of Instruction for Dothan City Schools.

In 2005, Sam applied for and was promoted by the Dothan
City Schools Board of Education to serve as superintendent. During
his term as superintendent, the school system experienced
exceptional growth both academically and structurally under his

Sam was always involved with civic organizations that
promoted not only the school system, but the great Dothan
community as well. Through the years, Sam was a member of the
Kiwanis Club and Dothan Rotary Club, serving on various
committees and supporting their civic efforts and initiatives. He
was selected as a member of the Dothan Education Foundation Hall
of Fame for his exceptional commitment and service to Dothan City

Sam retired from Dothan City Schools in 2011 after serving 37
years in public school service. He enjoyed living in the Ashford
community and attended Watermark Baptist Church.

Sam is preceded in death by his parents and three brothers.

Leaving to cherish his memory include: His adoring wife of 51
years, Ellen Nichols; daughter, Jennifer Canady (Jason), daughter,
Marsha Nowell (Ben), daughter Elle Nichols (Kane Huggins); grandsons,
Braxton Canady and Brooks Canady, Cooper Smith, Collier Nowell and
Chapman Nowell; brother-in-law, Billy Cherry; sisters-in-law, Debra Cherry and Bobbi Nichols; and several nieces, nephews,
extended family members and friends.

A graveside service with military honors will be held in Sunset Memorial Park
Cemetery on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 at 1:00 pm with Rev. Todd Thorpe officiating.
Flowers will be accepted or memorial contributions may be made to The Wounded Warriors Project.

Serving as pallbearers will be Jason Canday, Kane Huggins, Stevie Ingram, Eric Lawrence, Press Lawrence, Ben Nowell, and Brock Stevens.

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