October 10, 1953 - June 18, 2013
A devoted husband, loving father, dear friend and community member will be sorely missed. He was taken from us too early. His family and friends can only take solace in the fact that he no longer suffers from the vicious cancer that overtook his body.
Ken was born in San Jose, CA, to parents Barbara and Tom Nicholls. He was the second born of three boys. Along with his brothers Robert and Craig Nicholls, he terrorized his neighborhood, brought home wild animals, enjoyed family camping and fishing trips, and challenged his school teachers. Very good family friends Chuck and Virginia Howe had a ranch up in Oregon where his family vacationed every summer. This would plant the seed of his dream to own and manage his own ranch property one day.
Ken met the love of his life, Janet Thomas, in the late 70s. She lived in Santa Cruz, CA, and he was working for PG&E in San Jose at the time. They married in 1980 and had two girls, Katy and Chelsea. They bought a home and cherry orchard in Morgan Hill, CA. The extended family would come together each June for the cherry harvest, and to this day we share special memories of the days spent in the orchard around the cherry sorting belt.
In 1989 Ken and Jann purchased a rough and not-so-ready ranch outside of Sutherlin, and the family made the big transition from California to Oregon during Christmas vacation 1993 fulfilling Kenny’s lifelong career dream. It proved to be quite the challenge at first but Ken improved the land day by day, teaching himself forestry and cattle ranching, becoming a full time cowboy, conservationist, equipment mechanic, veterinarian, logger, home/fence/road builder, businessman, and steward of the earth. Somehow he always managed to fit in family events around his ranch duties, taking the kids to swim meets, softball tournaments and abalone dive trips too numerous to count.
When the girls went off to college Ken continued to improve the ranch. He became more active in the Douglas Small Woodlands Association and the Oregon Small Woodlands Association, for whom he was a board member and state representative respectively. Through these organizations he became Tree Farmer of the Year in 2001. He was also a parishioner at St. Francis Xavier Church.
In his last years, Ken was happy to welcome two wonderful sons-in-law to the family and one beautiful baby boy. Chelsea is expecting a baby girl any day now, another cherished legacy that Ken leaves behind. He is survived by his wife, Jann Nicholls; his daughters: Katy Koehler and Chelsea Escalante; and their husbands; Derek Koehler and Gabe Escalante; his brothers: Craig and Robert Nicholls; his sister-in-law, Louise Nicholls; his grandson, Kai Escalante; and numerous other relatives and friends whom he loved deeply. The funeral takes place at St. Francis Xavier Church on Saturday, June 22, at 11am.