The Fence Post obituary: Ben E. Nichols
Ben E. Nichols, 90
Sept. 23, 1928 – Feb. 22, 2019
Ben E. Nichols passed away on Feb. 22, 2019, at the age of 90, and his quick wit and ready smile will be sadly missed by his family and friends. Ben has been a lifelong resident of the Plateau Valley area where his grandfather, C.C.J. Nichols and wife, Eva King, were among the earliest pioneers to come into Mesa County, settling in the upper Plateau Creek area in 1884. Ben was the youngest of four sons born to Clarence and Mary Ellen (Ogden) Nichols on Sept. 23, 1928. Ben and his older brothers, Allen, Nate and Dick grew up ranching with their parents on what became one of the prominent valley cattle ranches. While in high school Ben would take some friends and his dad’s farm truck and they would gather old tires and iron for the war effort. This was the 40s and his two oldest brothers, Allen and Nate, were fighting in WWII while the rest of the family kept the ranch going. Growing up Ben was also a member of 4-H and FFA. He graduated from Collbran Union High School.
On Jan. 11, 1948, Ben married Lois Phillips, his high school sweetheart, whose family members were also longtime residents of the Plateau Valley area. In 1956, Ben graduated from Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University) in Fort Collins with a veterinary medicine degree. He then moved his family back to the Collbran area to establish his veterinary practice and continue ranching. As with all ranchers, they worked hard, sun up to sun down, side by side as they raised their family of seven children and were supportive of their many activities, including 4-H and rodeos. Ben built an arena near the corrals and many summer evenings were spent working with young saddle horses or roping the longhorn steers and calves Ben bought just for the family to enjoy. In 1968, Ben and his son, Ben Jr., won the Father/Son Team Roping event in Rifle. Over the years he was also active in the Plateau Valley Grazing Pool, serving as the president for several years.
Ben lost his dear wife of 67 years in 2015. They were blessed with a son and six daughters, 17 grandchildren and 40 great-grandchildren. Ben is survived by his children: son, Ben Jr. (April) Nichols, and daughters, Ellen (Jim) Lancaster, Susan (Mike) Prescott, Joann (Matt) Robinson, Judy (Brad) Tutor, Janet (Hal) Kime, and Anita (Bill) Curry, and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, an infant sister, Mary Ellen, and his three brothers.