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Nicholson founded the construction firm W.J. Nicholson Co. and went on to serve as mayor of the city of Santa Clara. He also devoted decades to helping Goodwill, the Crippled Children's Society, and the Boy Scouts. In honor of the many ways he embodied the Jesuit maxim of being a man for others, in 2001 he was presented with SCU's Ignatian Award for service to humanity.
Friends here on campus treasured his visits, when he would drive up here from Monterey in a fire engine red convertible with a Stetson perched jauntily on his head and with a twinkle in his eye.
Nicholson was preceded in death by his wife in 2001. The Nicholson family earlier suffered the tragic loss of two of their sons, George and Mark, and established a charity in their name.Nicholson is survived by daughters Kathleen Hull Gisvold '80 and Martha McAllister; sons Bruce Nicholson and John Nicholson '76; 14 grandchildren, including Laurel R. Shepard '95, Mark R. Nicholson '86 MBA '93, and Julie N. Nicholson Brewer '80. To 26 great grandchildren, he was also known as "Grandpa Great."