After a short illness, Bill Nichols passed peacefully from this life the evening of Sept. 28, 2016. He had just had his 80th birthday. Following a diagnosis of cancer in June, 2016, treatment began with partial success. Hospice care began September 19 at Alexander Cohen Hospice House.Bill Was born September 15, 1936 in Adams, Massachusetts to parents Edward and Esther (Perkins) Nichols. In his early years he lived with his family, including older sister Janet in Yonkers, NY. Frequent family visits to relatives in MA were enjoyed by all.Bill graduated from UMass, Amherst, in 1958 with a BS in Landscape Architecture. In 1962, he received his Master’s in City and Regional Planning at Yale University. His interest in the western US had him sending job applications to several cities. Interview appointments came from Fort Worth, TX, San Diego and Modesto, CA and Seattle, WA. Bill wanted to work for a city with a City Manager form of government.Bill spent 1962-1966 in the Modesto City Planning Department. He enjoyed working in a central city with growth challenges and in charge of its own destiny. Population in 1962 was 38,000. During this time he met and married Betty Okerman, in 1964. Their unusual first home was the basement apartment of the McHenry Mansion. Daughter Karen arrived in 1965.Again, wanting to experience life in another area of the US, the family moved to Madison, WI where Bill was employed until late 1969. Son John had joined the family in April, 1969.The position of Planning Director in Modesto had become open in 1969 and Bill applied and was accepted to fill it. The family returned to Modesto, now with 60,000 population. Bill retired in 1998 having long served as Modesto’s Director of Planning and Community Development, completing a public service career that in total spanned 36 years. He believed the physical environment was an important factor in our quality of life. Bill led efforts to control the proliferation of signs, to maintain residential privacy while increasing overall residential density and to direct urban development to cities and in so doing support our agricultural base.Much of this work culminated with the City’s adoption of the village neighborhood planning concept in the late 1990’s. Bill worked tirelessly with the building industry and environmental organizations to sanction a neighborhood design all could support. All new residential development for over 20 years has been based on this concept. 1998 population, approx 180,000.Family life through the years included camping trips, sports, music, church participation, YMCA activities, vacation travel, and assorted pets. Bill had been active in Toastmaster’s International since 1962 and continued into July of this year.Following retirement there was more time for longer European travels, Bill and Betty both enjoyed MICL opportunities, Masterworks Chorus at MJC, Modesto Symphony Chorus, and ushering at the Gallo Center of the Arts.Bill is survived by Betty, his wife of 52 years, daughter Karen Nichols, sister Janet Derouin of Bridgton, Maine, nephew Chadbourne Derouin of Oklahoma City, OK, nephew Montgomery Derouin of Bridgton, ME, and several cousins. He was predeceased by his parents Edward and Esther Nichols and son John Nichols.
Nancy was predeceased by her son, Ross Jencks. She is survived by her children, Randy Jencks (Nancy) of Bristol, Peter (Mary Ann) of Newport, Andrew of Barrington, fifth “son,” John Palmer of Marblehead, MA, grandchildren, Rosey Jencks of Albany, CA, Marey Jencks of New York, NY, Peter Leopold of Oakland, CA, Molly Jencks of Newport, Ben Jencks of New Orleans, LA, and great grandchildren, Miyah and Isaiah, and Sally and Walt. The five other teenagers who lived under her wing in her house will also miss her. For a very good reason, Nancy was affectionately known by many as, “Ma Jencks.”
Nancy’s family offers special thanks to the staff at Silver Creek Manor for their many years of care.
Dr. James Gladney Rogers succumbed to heart failure, complicated by advanced Alzheimer’s Disease, at Loma Linda Hospital, California, on October 5, 2016, his daughter Becky’s birthday. He died as he lived – gently, with dignity, and accompanied by loving family.
Jim was born in Stamford, Connecticut to James Thomas Rogers and Miriam Pomeroy Rogers on November 20, 1927. He was their only child and was adored by them both. As a young child, he moved with his parents to Texas, where his father founded a miniature, duck pin bowling alley, followed by a tract of homes in Ft. Worth. When a freak hail storm blew all the roofs off of the homes before any of them had been sold, his father had to declare bankruptcy and move the family to Chicago where they lived briefly with his father’s sister, Lillian, her husband, Jack Agar, their daughter, Joyce, and their son, Jack. Jim’s father began work at the Agar Meat Packing Company. After several years the family moved suddenly to Southern California in order to save the health of both Jim and his father, who had both contracted Rheumatic Fever.
In California, they settled in Sun Valley, where his father set up a fruit stand near a local park, then advanced to a partnership in a hardware store in Tujunga, where the family then moved. It was here that Jim’s father suffered his first, devastating, stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body. After a year of hospitalization at the Veterans Hospital in Santa Monica, the family left California to be near his mother’s family in Connecticut. They traveled across country in a new ’37 Dodge. His father died from another stroke seven years after his first one. Jim was 16 years old.
Jim and his mother moved back to Southern California where she, with her Bachelor’s degree from Connecticut Women’s College, was able to contribute to, and eventually support, the family. She wrote regular articles for the Fuller Brush Newsletter, the Bristler. She also contributed articles and interviews with Hollywood celebrities, to several popular movie magazines. Due to her work, she enjoyed complimentary tickets to the Academy Awards every year.
Jim was a true intellectual. He was notoriously well-read and could quote poetry and prose appropriately in almost any situation–including poems by his mother, Miriam, who was a beautiful poet. He graduated from Williston Academy in Easthampton, Massachusetts in 1945. He studied music as an undergrad at Yale, where he also explored other interests, from ethnomusicology and singing to languages and physics. He graduated in 1949. His first job after moving back to Southern California was at Eastman Kodak, then as an optical engineer at Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation (1950-1956). He eventually became a Human Factors Engineer at Hughes Aircraft, first in Culver City, then in Fullerton, California, which led him to work on top-secret projects that the family still doesn’t know much about. During this period he went back to graduate school at UCLA, earning his Masters in Engineering in 1962 and another Masters in Psychology in 1970. He received his Doctorate in Psychology from UCLA in 1973, eventually becoming a psychology professor at San Bernardino State University. His granddaughter Katherine writes, “Much of my earliest interest in psychology came from Gramps, inspired by his stories of the Stanley Milgram shock experiments and by my own perusal of the (now outdated) psychoanalytic theory books at my grandparents’ house in Crestline, California. Every Christmas, when Nana and Gramps came to visit, I enjoyed telling Gramps about whatever I was learning in school at the time. He was enthusiastic and seemed to legitimately enjoy these things as much as I did.”
Jim was a lifelong musician. He performed regularly as a tenor soloist in community productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, Bach Oratorios, Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, and annually at performances of Handel’s Messiah. He was the Choir Director for 35 years at St Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Fullerton, California. He composed anthems, descants, antiphons, and responses, many of which were published.
Jim’s family life was interconnected with his music skills. He met his wife, Nancy Odelle Bejach Rogers, in the choir at All Saints Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills. They married on May 18, 1951, and celebrated their first anniversary at the Good Samaritan Hospital in downtown Los Angeles, where their daughter, Deborah Anne was born. Four years later came Rebecca Katherine and the family was complete. The family has many fond memories of singing rounds and four-part harmony on their way to camping in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. All of “Jim’s Girls” also sang in his choirs. Nancy and Jim celebrated 65 years of marriage this last May.
Jim leaves behind his wife, Nancy Rogers, in Crestline, California; his daughter, the Rev. Deborah Magdalene, in Wappingers Falls, New York; his daughter, Dr. Rebecca Lyman, in Rexburg, Idaho; eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, with one on the way.
Ethel Ham “Peggy” Palmer died peacefully at home on September 21, 2016 at the age of 100. Born to Charles and Ethel Ham in Flatbush, Brooklyn, she had two brothers, Charles and Ralph, who both predeceased her. Her husband, Dwight O. Palmer, Jr., predeceased her in 1987. She is survived by her nieces, Susan and Carolyn. Peggy graduated from Jamaica High School in 1933. A 1937 graduate of Smith College with a degree in Sociology, Peggy then attended the Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School. As a legal secretary at Western Union, she met her late husband, a public relations executive, and married in 1951. They first resided in Ridgewood, NJ, and then moved to Wyckoff, NJ, in 1954. Peggy was a member of the West Side Presbyterian Church, the Wyckoff Women’s Club, the Valley Hospital Auxiliary and volunteered for The Seeing Eye, training eight puppies. Peggy loved playing bridge with her friends and UpWords with her nieces.