In light of his outstanding dedication to others, Dr. David Nichols ’70 was honored this week with the Hobart and William Smith Community Service Award. This prestigious award is given to members of the HWS family who have shown extraordinary commitment as volunteers, serving their local communities and society as a whole.
Nichols was in his residency at the Medical College of Virginia when he fell in love with the people of Tangier, a town located on a remote island in the Chesapeake Bay. A small fishing community of barely 600 people, the villagers had no hospital and only rudimentary health care. So Nichols made a pledge to help them. That pledge turned into a career-long commitment to the people of the island that, over the course of 30 years, has meant that Nichols has flown weekly helicopter trips to Tangier to provide treatment to the youngest and oldest members of the community.
Despite having recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer, Nichols continues to serve the people for whom he cares so deeply.
“David embodies the ideals we envisioned when we set up the Community Service Award,” says Trustee Gail Herman McGinn ’73, who presented the award to Nichols at the event, hosted by patient, friend and fellow alumnus Archibald J. Kingsley ’50, P’94, P’03. “He is an example to all of us of the power of one individual to make a lasting and material difference in the lives of others.”
Rain or shine, Nichols has flown his own helicopter to the island once a week. After years spent in a slowly deteriorating clinic on Tangier, Nichols, with the help of a friend and Lancaster County developer, was able to raise funds for the construction of a new healthcare facility for the residents of the island. The Dr. David B. Nichols clinic opened in September 2010, and is named in honor of the man who has so transformed the island and its people.
Nichols received his Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Hobart College in 1970, and went on to graduate from McGill University School of Medicine in Montreal, Canada in 1976. In 1979, he began the White Stone Family Practice in White Stone, Va., where he resides with his family to this day. The practice has expanded over the years, and Nichols has remained steadfast in his dedication to his patients and to his community.
In 2006, Nichols was named Country Doctor of the Year, an honor bestowed on those who exemplify the spirit, skill and dedication of America’s rural practitioners. Nichols has also been featured on NPR and in dozens of newspapers nationally. He was named ABC Person of the Week in January 2007, and has been recognized by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell for his efforts on Tangier. Nichols will also be featured in an upcoming segment on NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams called “Making a Difference.”
“He dedicated himself to this work and to these people, not for fame, fortune or personal calculation of gain, but rather because it was simply worthwhile,” says Director of Alumni Relations at Hobart College Jared Weeden ’91. “Hobart is lucky to call him an alumnus.”
Pictured above are: Louise Nichols, Dr. David Nichols ’70, Trustee Gail Herman Mcginn ’73 and Arch Kingsley ’50.