Delbert G. “Deb” Nichols, of Cottonwood, CA, formerly of Lebanon, 81, took his final deep seat and tight rein on October 29th, 2017 surrounded by the love of friends and family. He continues his journey peacefully in the hands of the Lord now.
The bull riding or bucking broncos didn't do Deb in on that Sunday night. Nor was it sorting cattle on horseback in steep terrain that few will ever see. It was complications from a simple toe surgery that dealt him unexpected, insurmountably poor odds of recovery. Yet he kept on sorting cattle, walking on his sore wounded foot. The pain he endured from the onset of gangrene would have driven most people mad. Yet, Deb was loving, funny and polite to the very end. He was a good guy and a consummate gentleman.
Deb lived most of his early life in Lebanon. He was a hard worker, a kid who had to grow up fast due to his Father, Ralph Percy Nichols, unexpected early death when Deb was 12. Deb's tenacity and ability to think quick on his feet got him elected as the 1954 Lebanon High School Student Body President. He met and would eventually marry the LHS Homecoming Queen, Betty Oakley.
Deb and Betty Nichols owned and trained race horses that ran Spokane, Salem and Portland. Two of the horses, Jade Sands and Sleigh Run, were outstanding runners that ran to win. These two horses brought so much joy to Deb, as he trained them to become consistent winners. As Deb tells it, he would whisper in the horse's ear “baby needs new shoes” and those horses would run even harder to finish first. (The baby needing new shoes was his baby daughter, Debra.)
Deb Nichols was a local businessman and Auctioneer. He built Deb Nichols Livestock on Airport Road in Lebanon from the ground up and co-owned the Corvallis Auction Yard for several years.
Deb was a very good, well-respected auctioneer. He would travel to auction yards in Klamath Falls, Madras, Redmond, Roseburg, Myrtle Point and Grants Pass to sell their livestock sales or to buy or sell his own cattle there. At times, he did two in one day! Deb smiled when he auctioneered because he loved it so much. He enjoyed the cattle buyers and sellers, knowing them by name at each location. He was known throughout Oregon for his outstanding auctioneering skills. When he added Yreka, CA to his busy auctioneering schedule, he got a taste of the Northern California cattle market and was instantly intrigued by all the possibilities. His career began to shift from cattle auctioneer to cattle buyer/broker.
Deb Nichols was known in the cattle industry for his work ethics of being fair, honest and reliable. He wanted his cattle deals to be equitable for all and he wanted to earn their repeat business. Deb is acknowledged by Maurice O'Keeffe in Ellington Peek's book “When to Buy… When to Sell” page 228.
Deb resettled as a divorced man in Cottonwood, CA. He thrived at being a successful cattle broker and made many lifelong relationships and friends through his business dealings. A particular business relationship blossomed into much more and that was with Christine Barkdull. She was a business partner and devoted friend to Deb for over 45 years and spent many days with him just prior to his passing.
Deb Nichols was a good guy and loved by so many. He was Papa to a few. He was Dad to his daughter, Debra. He was a kind and loving influence for Breanna and Chenowa. Deb was preceded in death by his Mother, Glenna Lucille Blackburn Nichols Montgomery, and his sister, Wanda Lee Nichols Ingram.
His sense of humor continued to show, even during bouts of excruciating pain, as explained by his hospice nurse. She said he turned his hat around, made a funny face, and asked if she'd go out with him later. He liked to play cards every evening and feed the ducks and fish each day that he could. Deb recently went family camping and picnicked many times in the mountains. He enjoyed long visits with his cousin, Lyle Springer. Deb was always reaching for the stars. He will be missed.
A Graveside Service will be at Rock Hill Cemetery, Lebanon, Oregon, at 2pm on Monday, November 6th.