Dr. Photis Nichols, the son of immigrant parents who migrated to Apalachicola from the small village of Trikkeri, Greece in the early part of the last century, passed away Monday afternoon, Aug. 21, 2017 at the age of 94 in Jacksonville.
There will be a Trisagion service on Monday, Aug. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church, 3850 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville. The funeral will be at the church at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29. Interment will follow at Oaklawn Cemetery. Afterwards, a Makaria luncheon will be held at the church hall. A future memorial service is planned for Apalachicola.
Dr. Nichols was predeceased by his parents, John and Garaphalia Nichols, and two brothers, Nicholas and James, and his sister-in-law Olga. He is survived by his three sons, George, Photis Jr., and Constantine, and three beautiful grandchildren, Photis III, Antonia and Anastasia. He loved his children and grandchildren, and was devoted to them.
Upon graduation from Chapman High School in Apalachicola in 1941, he joined his father in the operation of the family’s large general store in Apalachicola for the next year. In 1942, we was accepted to Emory University in Atlanta, and graduated in 1948 with his bachelor of science, and doctor of medicine degrees. He served an internship and surgical residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, before returning to his native birthplace to begin a long and successful practice of medicine, surgery and obstetrics. He was a member of the local medical society, the American Academy of Family Practice, the Florida Medical Association and later the Duval County Medical Society.
Upon retirement after 50 years of practice in Apalachicola, he moved to Jacksonville with his late wife, Frosso, to be with his children and grandchildren. He was a member of the Greek Orthodox Church and was privileged to serve on the parish council of the Church in Panama City, and later of the Church in Tallahassee. He was honored by the Church in being appointed an Archon – the Order of St. Andrew, the highest honor the Church can bestow on a layman. In the early ‘70s, he was honored by Archbishop Iakovos on a visit by the Archbishop to his home for dinner and fellowship.
Dr. Nichols was privileged to serve on the board of Big Bend Council of the Boy Scouts of America and in 1972 received a commendation for his service. In Jacksonville, he worked in the We Care and VIM (Volunteers in Medicine) clinics for many years. In recognition, he was awarded the honor of Jacksonville’s Doctor of the Year award.
In 1968 he was elected to the Franklin County school board, and was re-elected twice, serving for 12 years. He had the honor of being chairman for part of this time. A notable achievement was the replacing of two entirely separate schools, in Carrabelle and in Apalachicola, built at no cost to local taxpayers, Additionally, he pursued and received a $200,000 grant for the school district from the Florida Department of Education for construction of a vocational facility at the Apalachicola site. He strongly advocated a career in vocational education for those students who had not planned to enter college.
On his initiative, the school board built the first solar-powered system for heating and cooling in Florida, and the second in the nation. Dr. Nichols worked diligently to convince his peers on the board of the merits of such a system, and upon their approval, approached the director of the Florida Department of Education. The state gave the school board a grant of $600,000 and the system was built.
While Dr. Nichols was successful with the construction phase of the schools, he ran into strong headwinds when it came to student achievement. He was a strong advocate for students achieving their highest potential during the school year. It seemed that “social promotion” was the order of the day. According to the view of some members of the faculty. It seemed that many students were advanced in their elementary schooling regardless of their achievement, resulting in many of them performing one or more grade levels behind the one they were in. This so-called social promotion resulted in some students falling behind in their studies, and finally dropping out of school.
Ironically, in a speech before the local Rotary Club in the late ‘70s, he advocated 10 goals for vocational education, aimed at those candidates who were potential candidates and who were not college-bound. The speech was covered by the Florida Times-Union newspaper, and subsequently the Honorable Fred Dickenson, Florida’s commissioner of education, noticed it and incorporated it as one of the state’s goals.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Dr. Nichols’s name to St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church, or a favorite charity.