Jackson, Tenn. – Burruss Nichols died peacefully after a long illness on May 13, 2022, at the age of 90, leaving a world made better by his loving heart, joyful spirit, practical intelligence, and relentless work ethic. He was born March 13, 1932, to Beulah Robbs and William Ed Nichols in Westover, Tennessee.
At a young age, Burruss developed his work ethic and love for farming while planting row crops and feeding the dairy cows he milked before and after school every day. In high school, he excelled as an athlete playing basketball, baseball and football at North Side High School. He then lettered four years and was captain two years in basketball and lettered two years in tennis at the University of Tennessee at Martin. During college, Burruss married his high school sweetheart, Mary Alice Greer, in 1952. Burruss then served in the United States Army during the Korean War before graduating with a degree in agriculture in 1956. He then earned his master’s degree in education at the University of Memphis and performed additional graduate work in chemistry at Vanderbilt University. Burruss was a gifted teacher of chemistry and physics at North Side High School, where he influenced the personal and professional lives of many students. Burruss was a natural mentor, and excelled as the head boys’ basketball coach and football coach at North Side High School for several years. After his football teams won multiple bowl games and the school’s first Volunteer Conference title, Burruss was named Volunteer Conference Coach of the Year. Burruss was a natural leader and served as a devoted principal at North Side Junior High and at Madison County Vocational School. He officiated high school and college football and basketball and served as the commissioner and supervisor of West Tennessee Basketball Officials Association. He became a board member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and was inducted in the Jackson-Madison County Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.
Aside from coaching and teaching, Burruss’s lifelong passion was farming, a vocation to which he dedicated himself for more than three quarters of a century. Burruss farmed row crops for several years before launching a thirty-year hog operation that he ran with his son, Mike, at Nichols Farm, Inc. Burruss farmed until he was 85 years old and his lasting impact on the field of agriculture was honored by his induction in the Madison County Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2018. Burruss lived a fearless life, and accepted any opportunity to mentor others and spread the Gospel. He served as an agricultural missionary to Albania, where he shared the Gospel and taught farming techniques and later traveled as an agricultural emissary to Russia to help local farmers modernize at the end of the Cold War. Burruss was a devoted Christian and active member of Northside Church in Jackson, where he started The Pacers Sunday school class that he taught for decades.
In addition to being a gifted teacher, coach, and farmer, Burruss was a faithful husband, loving father, dedicated grandfather, and loyal friend. Despite his many accolades, Burruss will be remembered most for his joyful spirit, love for God, devotion to his family, and influential character.
Burruss Nichols is survived by his beloved wife, Mary Alice Greer Nichols, of nearly 70 years.
Children: Mike Nichols (Debbie); Dr. Lee Nichols Russell (Dr. Jim Russell)
Grandchildren: William Nichols (Dr. Erin Nichols); Marianne Nichols; Dr. Ryan Russell (Danielle); Haley Russell; and Dr. Hannah Russell Johns (Gray)
Great grandchild: Aria Nichols
He is also survived by his beloved niece, Tina Nichols Benson (Crayton Robert), great nieces, Stephanie Raby and Nichi Knox (Forrest), their families, and nieces Teresa Lass (John) and Brenda Narvin.
He is predeceased by parents, Beulah Robbs Nichols and William Ed Nichols; brother, Dr. James Robbs Nichols (Johnnie); and sister, Eddie Muriel Mason Weaver.
SERVICES: A funeral service will be held at 2:00PM Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in the sanctuary of Northside Church with Rev. Gerry Campbell, Dr. Kevin Glenn, and Rev. Daphne Moses. He will be laid to rest in a private committal with family at Oakfield Cemetery following the service. Family and friends will be received from 12:00 PM until 2:00PM Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at the church.
Memorial contributions may be directed to Northside Church, 2571 N. Highland Ave., Jackson, TN 38305 or to RIFA, 133 Airways Blvd., Jackson, TN 38301.
Arrington Funeral Directors, 148 W. University Parkway, Jackson, TN 38305
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