As I write about this former Warrior, feelings pass through me that are hard to express. Those who knew Wayne Nichols really didn’t know his name was Wayne. He was Butch to everyone.
Butch and I were teammates during his freshman, sophomore, and junior years. Butch was a three-year letterman in football, played lightweight basketball during his freshman and sophomore years and was a 4-year letterman in baseball, playing on the Warrior championship teams of 1950 and ’51.
Athletically I remember Butch mostly for his play on the football field. He was an excellent linebacker. We used to tease him because when the opponent would snap the ball offensively he would go full speed ahead to the ball, make a vicious tackle, then go into slow motion getting up and returning to his defensive position, but when the next snap occurred he was full speed again.
Old Del Norters will remember Gerald Nichols, the owner of Nichols Pontiac. Butch was Gerald’s younger brother. It was this relationship that led to a great impact on my life. I had just been released from the army after spending nine months in Korea. I had several months before returning to college and Gerald gave me a job. Butch was working for his brother so we were working together.
This was where a very strong bond developed between Butch and I. We did everything together. When I returned to college Butch regularly came to Arcata to visit. He became more a brother to me then a friend. I often tried to talk him into enrolling at Humboldt and joining the football program, but he always said that academics were not his favorite thing. We were so close that when I got married in 1958 Butch was my best man.
After Gerald closed Nichols Pontiac, Butch moved to Oregon, where he ran a dairy ranch. It was while there that tragedy struck and took my very special friend at a very early age. I will always remember this former Warrior for being the great teammate that he was, for the special times we had together and for the great friend he became.
Dick Trone writes on his reflections and the history of Del Norte High Warrior sports. Trone, who played football for the Warriors and graduated in 1951, had an illustrious career on the gridiron at Humboldt State University. Trone was head football coach at Del Norte High for a number of years before retiring.