Irene A. Nichols, Ed.D. passed away peacefully on November 1, 2020.  She is survived by her brother Edward (Diane) of Palm City, Florida, and her nieces and nephews, Tracey (Rick Pollock), Edward (Carolyn), Phillip, Trent (Sue), Ross (Cindy), Bill Henson and Scott Kresan (Ricki) and great nieces and nephews Ashley (Andres Diossa), Spencer, Steven Angelos (Elizabeth Portello), Thomas, Rachel (Michael Pelagalli), Paige Henson (Steve Ryan), Paula Green(Todd) and great-great nephews Easton Nichols and Jackson Ryan.  She is predeceased by her brothers Philip (Herb Ehrhard), Robert (Naomi Yaw, Sandy Nichols) and sister, Phyllis Kresan (Paul) and her niece, Heidi Kresan. 

She also leaves behind many dear friends Including Dorett “Pinky” Hope, Carol Kelley, Jane Martin, Adelaide Milkovich, Geri Henze, J. Keith Motley, Suzanne Crowell and Paul Mertens, as well as the “Mermaids”, her water aerobics group, Edye, Carol R., Carol K., Florence, Nancy and Meredith.  She was delighted to be joined by family and friends in 2019 to celebrate her 90th birthday.  She greatly enjoyed her apartment at Waterstone at the Circle and the many wonderful staff including Luis, Chanta, Jake and Scott. 

Irene was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Philip Nichols and Jessie (Ross) Nichols and moved to the Back Bay area of Boston as a child.  She developed a love of art and music which she attributed to her time spent as a child in the after-school programs at the Settlement House in Boston.  She attended Boston Teacher’s College (a legacy institution of the University of Massachusetts Boston), for her undergraduate degree and briefly taught in the Boston Public Schools as an elementary teacher. She moved to Cambridge and attended Harvard University for both her Masters and Doctorates degrees in Education. 

After graduating from Harvard with her Masters, Irene became a professor of Psychology in Education at Northeastern University and worked towards finishing her Doctorate at Harvard.  She was an active faculty member where she served as the associate director for the Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Education and the director of the human development program in the College of Education. On the Faculty Senate, she worked tirelessly on issues such as equal pay for women and she served as a Marshall during student protests to prevent police from clashing with students.  She was an active member of the Wellness Committee and served on the Wellness Advisory Board to move Northeastern University forward as a leader in improving the well-being of students, faculty and staff.  Irene retired from Northeastern after 35 years in 1999 and was named Professor Emeritus.  Professor Nichols mentored many students including J. Keith Motley, who became a dear friend.  Dr. Motley went on to become the Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston, where Irene did a great deal of volunteer work including serving on the Board of Visitors.  Irene was pleased to establish a scholarship fund in her mother’s name, The Jessie A. Nichols Early Education Scholarship, for aspiring educators. 

Irene was a generous benefactor of the arts and education contributing annually to the Nora Theatre, Boston Chamber Music, Boston Baroque, the UMass Boston Teachers College Scholarship Fund and the American Repertory Theatre in Shepardstown, West Virginia.  She endowed the “Philip R. Nichols Encouragement Award” at the annual Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions- New England.  She also served on the Board of the Nora Theatre.

Irene never forgot her humble roots growing up in a two-bedroom apartment with a single mom and four siblings and donated to many charities to help those less fortunate.  She also was an ardent supporter of women’s rights, diversity and social justice issues and peace. 

She travelled the world with family, friends and solo and collected art as she travelled.  She also was a frequent visitor to local art galleries and supported young artists.  Her collections were extensive and always a source of great joy for her.  She took up wood carving and enjoyed seeing the vison of what she might bring forth from a piece of wood.  She wrote a poem at each important event of family members or friends to mark the occasion.  She often hosted her nieces and nephews at her condo near Harvard Square and enjoyed taking them to used record shops, shopping in the unique shops along “Mass. Ave.”, to restaurants and museums and to see street performers and artists scattered along Harvard Square. 

Family would like to thank the wonderful caregivers at Eldercare of Boston and Good Shepherd Hospice for their compassionate care to Irene. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Jessie A. Nichols Early Education Scholarship c/o UMass Boston, 100 Morrissey Blvd., Boston, MA 02125, Attention: Vanessa D. Carta.