James Richard “Jim” Nichols, P.E., Dist.M.ASCE, longtime leader of the Freese and Nichols consulting firm in Fort Worth, TX, has died at 92.
Nichols joined ASCE in 1949 as an undergraduate student at Texas A&M, and was elected a Distinguished Member in 2004 for his many career achievements.
Nichols worked to provide dependable water supplies for drought-ravaged cities of West Texas. He helped create water districts, raised project funding, and designed dams, pipelines, and pump stations. In North Texas, his home, Nichols oversaw the design of Richland-Chambers Reservoir.
He also played a key role in the creation of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and led Freese and Nichols’ development of the original infrastructure there in the 1970s.
Nichols served as a partner at Freese and Nichols for 21 years before being chosen its first president in 1977, when the firm incorporated. He served in that role for 11 years, followed by 14 as board chairman and 14 as chairman emeritus.
He was the client representative to the City of Abilene for the Lake O.H. Ivie Water Transmission Facility. The firm’s design and construction management for this $40 million project, which had two pump stations and 51 miles of 36-inch pipeline, earned the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award from the ASCE Texas Section and was nominated for a national ASCE award. The transmission system provided Abilene with a new water source, helping to alleviate concerns about water supply during drought and improve overall water quality.
In 2000, Nichols was appointed to the Texas Board of Professional Engineers by Gov. George W. Bush; he was later named chairman by Gov. Rick Perry.
Nichols is survived by Billie, his wife of 71 years, three children Judy, Richard, and John, six grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and seven great-great-grandchildren.