| Happy 90th
Birthday, Glendale, California (1996)
An Interview with Tim Nichols
by Summer Block
"If [a city] doesn't grow, it dies," Nichols says, asserting that Glendale's growth has been well-controlled and beneficial for the burgeoning and widely diverse population. "I had a hand in making it grow; I still have a hand, though I'm not as active as I used to be."
Born on an unpaved corner of Wabasso Way and Verdugo Road near the dawning of the city of Glendale, Thomas (Tim) Nichols later embarked on a community building task that has so far produced over 270 houses in the Glendale-La Crescenta-Montrose are, helping to change what was once a collection of small homes and businesses into a thriving and expanding city with a well-developed business district, and homes sprawling over the hills in all directions.
Owner of Nichols Investment Company, a company specializing in building two and three story low-rise commercial offices and property management, Mr. Nichols has an active hand in real estate, building, mortgages, and subdividing, all of which are aided by his University of Southern California architecture degree.
Tim Nichols had the rare opportunity to watch his city grow up around him and to serve on numerous committees that helped to make Glendale expand and improve. "I've been on every commission in the city of Glendale by now," Nichols laughs. A current design reviewer on a city planning board, it is his job to make sure that the new buildings built in the city blend seamlessly with the older buildings of the community, creating a district that is aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.
"I think Glendale by and large is as nice a place as you can find to live in," Nichols affirms. "Only one period in my life was I away," he begins, as he relates his experiences in the armed forces. After graduating from Verdugo Woodlands Elementary School, Wilson Middle School, and Glendale High School (where he played football alongside future-Heissman trophy Frank Albert), Nichols took a course in Civilian Pilot Training and later joined the Air Transport Command in 1940 as an army pilot for eight years, followed by a brief stint at Delta commercial airlines, which left him dissatisfied. " I didn't like sitting in the right-hand seat and being a co-pilot," he jokes, preferring to take the front seat he has taken in his business since entering his father's field.
Leaving USC with an education funded by a GI Bill, Tim willingly took on the responsibilities of home and family, fathering three children, all of whom, Nichols says, are "totally grown and self-sufficient." His eldest daughter, herself a mother of four, is a graduate of Cal State Los Angeles and currently resides in Houston. His youngest daughter went to USC like her father and lives in Hemet. His son, a military general of twenty one years who served in the Gulf as General Schwarzkopf's engineering officer, lives in Florida.
Despite the fact that Nichols has yet to retire from his professional career, he is constantly searching out things "to broaden [his] educational background. "Any education you can get is absolutely, totally worthwhile. Take advantage of all the things that are offered right now." Pursuing his own education in his spare time, Tim is currently enrolling in a geology course given at Glendale Community College.
"I constantly have new interests," he says, expressing his enthusiasm for a wide variety for hobbies, chief of which are automobiles and bicycle riding. "I started out when I was eleven years old, putting my first model A Ford together... Then I went through roadsters and hot rods... I've got a collection of cars--Ferraris, pretty fancy cars... It's fun to play with them."
Vacations for Nichols often include bicycle riding excursions with friends. Past years he has bicycled across Vermont and down the Maine coastline, through scenery Nichols describes as " pretty, pretty country." He has also ridden down Highway One from San Francisco, averaging over a hundred miles a day. But perhaps his most exciting trip was over the Swiss Alps, a month-long journey he undertook with another bicycle enthusiast.
Looking over his numerous accomplishments, Nichols is both modest and exuberant. "I think I probably could have worked a little harder and made a little more progress than I have, but I've had a lot of fun doing what I do, and I still like my work. So if you like your work and you're happy with what you've done so far, then you still have a lot more time to do even more."
Watching the city he helped build come to its maturity, Nichols is proud to say, "I still enjoy Glendale as much as I did when I was in high school... If I were to start over again and start raising a family again, I'd raise them in Glendale."
Summer Block was a journalism student at Hoover High School in 1996.
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