LORIS, SC (WBTW) – A small city in Horry County mourns the death of mayor Henry Nichols, following an extended illness.
Loris City Council Member Joan Gause says she’s known mayor Nichols for about 65 years, ever since they grew up together in Loris.
“My sister and him shared birthday parties together,” Gause said. “He was loving and fun.”
Gause was on city council with mayor Nichols until he died Tuesday at the age of 68.
“I will treasure that experience serving with him for the rest of my life,” said Gause.
Nichols was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was also the chief financial officer of the State of Maryland’s human resources department.
In 2016, he was elected as Loris’s first African-American mayor.
“My ambition was not to be the city administrator,” said Damon Kempski, who was appointed city administrator by Nichols. “He saw something that he felt that, in his administration, there was something I could do to benefit his administration and he gave me an opportunity.”
A black ribbon in remembrance of Nichols is on the front door of Loris City Hall, which is actually closed due to a damaged roof after Hurricane Florence.
Kempski says he and mayor Nichols shared a bond beyond city hall, since Kempski was a U.S. Army paratrooper.
“There’s a language that you speak in the military and I respected that dynamic,” Kempski said. “I think he appreciated the fact that I was comfortable with it because that was his comfort zone.”
Gause says she also knows Nichols’s family.
“His mother was my first grade teacher,” she said. “She was a wonderful role model.”
Gause says Loris will remember Nichols for how much he wanted to improve the city, even as his health declined.
“He was fair,” Gause said. “He listened to everyone that he could get the energy and time to listen to. He really cared about the community. It was his community that he grew up in.”
Kempski says a special election will need to be held, since Nichols had more than six months left on his term. City council was scheduled to meet next Monday, but that meeting has now been postponed to March 11.
Funeral arrangements for Nichols have not been set.