Frank A. Nichols
Frank A. Nichols
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Frank Arthur Nichols, age 96, died in peace at the Rochester, MN home of his son and daughter-in-law on November 18, 2020.

Frank, the first of two sons born to Quaife and Nellie Nichols, was born on April 10, 1924 in the bedroom of their farmhouse in rural Bremer County, Iowa. Frank and his brother, Roger, grew up on the family farm near Waverly, Iowa during the Great Depression. During his grade school years, Frank rode his pony to and from a one-room schoolhouse two miles down the road from his home. Frank graduated from Waverly High School in 1942. He then attended Iowa State University, milking cows in a dairy barn every day at 3 am to help pay for his room and board. After one year at Iowa State, Frank was drafted into the Army Air Corps. He spent much of his time in the military stateside in Army hospitals after contracting rheumatic heart disease. After his honorable discharge, Frank decided to take full advantage of the GI Bill. He enrolled in Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. There he met his future bride, Aileen Pfeiffer, a city girl from Chicago. They were married in June 1951 and had three sons, Doug (Bobbi) residing in Rochester, MN, John (Sara) in Iowa City, IA, and Craig (Kari) in Zumbrota, MN. After graduating with a degree in Sociology from Cornell College, Frank attended Iowa State University and received a Masters degree in Agricultural Economics. Still not feeling he had found his niche in life, Frank decided to pursue the ministry and attended Yale Divinity School in New Haven, CT. He graduated from Yale with a Masters of Divinity in 1955 and decided to return to Iowa and become a pastoral minister in the Iowa Conference of the Methodist Church. During a long and distinguished career as a Methodist and later United Methodist pastor in Iowa, Frank served churches in Sheffield, Sibley, Eldora, Clinton and Davenport and held leadership administrative positions in Creston and Des Moines. Frank was an active liaison between the Iowa conference and the Methodist-affiliated colleges in Iowa. He received honorary doctorate degrees from Simpson College and Morningside College and served on the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, Cornell College. Frank also served on the executive board of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, allowing him to take many international trips to developing countries in Africa, Latin and South America, and the Caribbean. After retirement, Frank and Aileen moved to Rochester, MN where Frank remained active in church and civic organizations up until the time of his death. After nearly 56 years of a happy and blessed marriage, Aileen passed away in 2007. After Aileen's passing, Frank rekindled an old college romance with Helen Sanborn and they were married in 2008. Helen survives and currently resides in memory care at The Homestead in Rochester.

Frank was preceded in death by his parents Quaife and Nellie, brother Roger, wife Aileen and infant grandson, David. He is survived by his second wife, Helen, his three sons and their wives, and six grandchildren, Leah (San Francisco), Katie (Luxembourg), James (Iowa City), Joshua (Cedar Falls), Linnea (Tucson), and Kyra (Concordia College in Morehead).

Frank loved and lived life to the fullest and was always in wonderment of God's love and grace and the beauty of Creation. He was known for his unquestionable integrity and was a devoted son, brother, husband, father and grandfather. He adored his seven grandchildren and was their unfailing advocate. He enjoyed traveling, sailing and listening to classical music, and played golf into his 90's. Most of all he enjoyed reading. His favorite reading topics were theology, history, biographies and current events.

Frank's family wishes to express great appreciation and thankfulness for the kind compassion granted to him and his family during his final days by his many friends and acquaintances. In particular, we are grateful for the care bestowed to Frank by Mayo Hospice, his personal physician, Dr. Thomas Jaeger, and Franks "best personal pastor of all time", Rev. Elizabeth Macaulay.

A Celebration of Life service will occur at Christ United Methodist church in Rochester when it is safe to do so after the pandemic. The family suggests memorials be given to the Christ United Methodist Church Foundation in Rochester or to the charity of your choice.

Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Nichols family; to share a special memory or condolence please visit


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D Daniel Kuffel on Dec 6, 2020

Our sympathies to The Nichols family. We are saddened when a loved one leaves us, but we also celebrate their lives and are thankful for the time that we were able to share with them. They will always be with us , in a special place, our hearts. Our prayers are with you at this difficult time and we wanted to let you know we are thinking of you.
Dan and Mary Kuffel

M Mike Folkerts on Dec 1, 2020

Our condolences to the entire extended Nichols family; growing up with Doug, John and Craig in Iowa was a special experience. Rev. Nichols and my Dad were good friends and seeing Frank at Dad’s service in Steamboat Rock a few years ago made it even more memorable. God Bless the Nichols and the many lives that Frank touched on his journey. Mike & Noreen Folkerts Juneau Alaska

B Bill Holzer on Nov 24, 2020

I was saddened to hear this news. I always admired Frank and his family. In his presence, I always felt his Dignity and Christianity.

A Al Ricks on Nov 19, 2020

Doug, John, and Craig, your dad was such an inspiration, guide, and friend to me! Through the years I have marveled at how he could see potential in a kid from Afton, and then place trust in me to be his associate at Clinton. The most remarkable thing was how he was willing to regard me as a peer in ministry, even though I was really "wet behind the ears!" He led, not from authority, but from love! His mentoring helped shape and mold me into what I could become!

Several specific memories stand out... The day we moved to Clinton we opened the door to the parsonage and found it just as the previous occupants had walked out, without anyone doing any cleaning, at all. Within minutes, there came your folks, with brooms and scrub buckets! The days of the Clinton Corn Strike were anything but pleasant, but I learned from your dad that there was no benefit in "choosing sides," and that justice could prevail through quiet witness! When our daughter was a baby, she was baptized by the Assistant to the Bishop - my friend! And, a few years later, when she had open-heart surgery, your folks helped walk that journey, coming to the hospital for hugs and prayer.

I'm so very glad I got to spend a day with your dad last year! It was a day to treasure, as we reminisced, toasted life, and spoke of eternal values! I got to share with him how much he meant to me. I want you to know that, too! God's blessings to you and your families! Al Ricks

C Cathy Luck on Nov 19, 2020

I remember Frank from my early years in Iowa UM Conference, first while at Orient UMC and then the Conference Council/Leadership Team. He was an encourager as others have said. He was a stable presence with wisdom to share. My prayers and thoughts are with the family (especially John and Sarah who I know from Iowa City) in your loss! Cathy Luck

D Dave Nolte on Nov 19, 2020

Frank was such a wonderful "encourager" and counselor for me during my first years of service in the Iowa Annual Conference. My own 1971 M.Div. was also from Yale Divinity School. When we first met during an Annual Conference session while I was still in seminary, he joked (and laughed) when he said: "You hear the announcements about Seminary reunion meetings here at conference -- Garrett alums will be meeting in the main auditorium . . . UDTS alums will be meeting in the fellowship hall at First Church . . . and then you hear: Yale alums will be meeting out front in the side-street telephone booth!" He mentioned his military service and expressed appreciation for mine, as I eventually served as an Army chaplain. I know that I'm only one of so many who have been blessed by his insights and caring. He's certainly a premier example of those whom Tom Brokow has called "The Greatest Generation" . My prayer: Loving Lord, thanks so much for Frank! Dave Nolte

R Rev. Steve Braudt on Nov 19, 2020

Your family is in my prayers and thoughts. Such fond memories of his ministry in Clinton, but that Anne and I would follow in ministry in many of the same location, Eldora and St. John's. I remember finding a note hidden behind the mirror in Eldora's parsonage from one of the children. We shared it with the church and then returned it to its hidding place. Frank had a wonderful ministry that touched the hearts, souls and lives of so many.

D Dr. Charles Curl on Nov 19, 2020

I have a special memory of your father. He offered me a summer position at the Orient UMC which was a church in transition. I served three for 3 months before my last year of seminary. Your father was so supportive of me that I transferred to the Iowa AC from my home conference and have always been glad to have done so. I held him in high regard. God bless you in your faithful giving up of a fine Christian gentleman and pastor.
Dr. Charles Curl



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