Obituary: Mary Nichols, 66, of Scottville

June 28, 2023

Mary Nichols

Obituary: Mary Nichols, 66, of Scottville

“If you serve with love, you will love to serve”

Mary Lou Cooper Nichols, 66, of Scottville, passed away June 21, 2023 after a valiant 18 month battle with cancer. The Cooper family farm in Riverton Township was where she lived from birth through childhood, married and raised her children, and enjoyed a lifetime of tending seeds in her garden from sprout to harvest for preparing and preserving the delicious meals that appeared on the dining tables of her family, friends and neighbors. The farm became her place of peaceful rest when she became too ill to battle her illness any longer.

Mary was born on July 26, 1956, the daughter of Laverne and Helen (Wagner) Cooper. She graduated from Mason County Central High School in 1974 and attended Mercy School of Nursing in Grand Rapids, and West Shore Community College.  Mary was employed for many years as an orthodontist assistant for Dr. Fred McHugh, DDS, and later as a medical assistant in the offices of David Gadzinski, MD and Precision Medical Health of Ludington.

On October 13, 1979, she married James L. Nichols at St. Simon Catholic Church in Ludington and they would have celebrated 45 years of marriage this year. Their committed bond extended to the family owned pharmacy – Nichols Drugstore of Scottville, which they co-owned until it was sold in 2012. In 2014 Mary began her dream career as the property manager and chef at the Flint Rainbow Club. Over the next 10 years she enjoyed meeting her new “family” of sport club members while preparing delectable meals at the historic club house on the Pere Marquette River in Baldwin. The garden harvests were once again shared, and she could also be a facilitator of improvements to the club house and extensive property bordering 3,000 feet of shoreline on the river.

“Sign up and Serve” was always Mary’s philosophy toward life, and she did this in abundance. The Scottville Harvest Festival Parade was co-chaired by Mary and Jim for 28 consecutive years, and in 2000 they were selected Scottville Citizens of the Year. She was a member of the Scottville Chamber of Commerce and served on the Michigan Main Street Development Committee.  Mary was a Scottville Youth Recreation Soccer Coach for many years, and was the advisor for the Mason County Youth Council of the Ludington Area Community Foundation from 1997 to 2000 (now Community Foundation for Mason County).  Mary was a member of the planning, fund-raising, and construction committee for the Ludington Waterfront Park Playground in 1998-99, and remained an active member of St. Jerome/St. Mary’s Catholic Church, where she also participated in the church choirs. In 2005 the Nichols family hosted a Youth for Understanding exchange student from Japan whose upcoming July 2023 visit is unfortunately too late to meet his American host mother once again.  Mary was elected Riverton Township treasurer in 1984, and served the township for 24 years. In 2009, she was elected to the Mason County Board of Commissioners and served as the District 4 Commissioner for three terms, 2009-2014.

Mary’s love of family, friends and community became her purpose in life, and she fulfilled this calling by organizing whenever or wherever she saw an opportunity to nourish, support, defend, accommodate, or rehabilitate someone in need . . . or to celebrate a momentous event.

Mary will be greatly missed by her husband Jim and son Joshua Daniel Nichols (Samantha Yennior) and their children Ryah Ann and Khloe Kay of Scottville; her daughter in-law Kaycee Nichols and children Avalon Rebecca, Zoee Adison, and Mason Allen Nichols of Lima, Ohio.; her siblings Lane (Rosemary) Cooper of Freeport, Sue (Peter) Siler of Lowell, Jeri (John) Claire, Fred (Debbie) Cooper, and Leslie Ann Cooper, all of Ludington; her extended Nichols family Christy (Mark) Buck and Steve Nichols of Pentwater; her stepsisters Pam (Charles) Nelson, Kay (Robert) Neal, and Jane (Paul) Lindemuth of Holland; and many very special loved nieces and nephews.

Mary was preceded in death by her son Gabriel James Nichols on November 15, 2021; her parents LaVerne and Helen Cooper; her sisters Ann Marie and Therese Cooper; her brother Duane Cooper; her father-in-law and mother-in-law Tom and Loretta Nichols; her brother-in-law John Nichols; her stepmother Phyllis Mulligan Cooper Petersen; her niece Kimberly Ann Cooper; and her nephews Dustin Lane Cooper and David Clare.

The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Mary on at 11 a.m. on Friday, August 4 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Custer with Rev. Dan DePew as Celebrant. Friends may visit with her family on Thursday evening, August 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Wyman Funeral & Cremation Services in Scottville, and on Friday morning from 10 a.m. until time of Mass at the church.  Mary will be laid to rest alongside her son Gabriel at Pere Marquette Catholic Cemetery in Pere Marquette Township.

Mary’s wishes were that memorials be directed to the City of Ludington (memo: Waterfront Park playground) for financial sustaining of the Waterfront Park Playground, or to Caritas’s Food Pantry at St. Mary’s Church in Custer.

Please visit Mary’s memory page at to share a memory or tribute of Mary with her family.

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