Anne Hoffman Nichols Was Dedicated Volunteer

Anne Hoffman Nichols, formerly of Sengekontacket, Kansas City, Mo., and Columbus, Neb., died Friday, Sept. 22, at her home in Chatham after a brief illness. She was 86.

Anne lived a life full of service, friendship and care for others, which continued until the day she died.

She was born Feb. 22, 1920, in Seguin, Tex., to parents whose lives were marked by the changes that took place in turn-of-the-century America. Her father, George B. Hoffman, met Theodore Roosevelt during a hunting trip to Wyoming and became a Rough Rider; her mother, when she met George, was the law librarian in Wyoming Territory. In 1923 her parents separated, and she returned with her mother to her mother's home town of Columbus, Neb., where she was raised by aunts while her mother traveled throughout the upper Midwest selling law books.

While her mother was on the road, her aunts spent the Depression tracing the family genealogy back to the Mayflower, all of them surviving largely on grapefruit mailed periodically from relatives in Texas. Anne meanwhile flowered into a beautiful, intelligent young woman full of fun with a knack for friendship that she retained all her life.

She attended the University of Nebraska and pledged Kappa Kappa Gamma, beginning a deep, lifelong attachment to the sorority, its members and its charities. When the war began she moved in search of work to Kansas City, Mo., where she took a job at the Pratt and Whitney defense plant. She moved to Socony Vacuum Oil Company, a predecessor of Mobil, where she met her husband, Joseph Bruce Nichols, a lifelong Kansas Citian and Mobil executive. They were married in 1942 and honeymooned in New Orleans. He predeceased her in 1995.

Beginning in 1948, the first of her four children arrived, and her life revolved around children, church, friends, entertaining, and volunteer activities. Anne generally rose to the top of any organization she joined. In Kansas City in the 1960s and 1970s, she served as president of the boards of the Kappa Kappa Gamma Alumnae Association, the American Red Cross and the Visiting Nurse Association, as well as on the vestry of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church.

In 1972, one of her daughters arranged for the family to rent a house on Chappaquiddick. It turned out to be a life-changing event. She fell in love with the Vineyard, and the family began returning for three or four weeks every September, renting the FOCUS camp on Uncle Seth's Pond. She was determined to make the Vineyard her home, and in 1985 she and her husband fulfilled a dream by building their retirement home in Sengekontacket.

Once here, she again gave willingly of herself to causes and organizations, including the Extension Greenhouse, the Island Food Pantry and St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Edgartown where she served on the vestry. An amateur gardener, she loved being a member of the Martha's Vineyard Garden Club. A cover-to-cover reader of the Vineyard Gazette, the Martha's Vineyard Times, the New York Times and the Boston Globe, she always had recommendations about the latest art openings, book signings, concerts and whatever was happening on the Vineyard. An avid sports fan, she and her husband particularly loved the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School football games. They were regulars at duplicate bridge.

Anne loved to cook and entertain. Every milestone in the family as well as many in the lives of friends deserved a party; guests were always given the best, and she was rarely happier than in the midst of a party. She was still experimenting with new recipes last month.

In 1999 she left the Vineyard and moved to Chatham. Even after turning 80 she continued to volunteer for the Senior Center Library and the consignment shop at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, and was an active and vocal participant in her condominium association.

After learning she was terminally ill a month ago, she took the news calmly and with great dignity. As her family drew near to her at the end, she organized her affairs one last time, took her children to several restaurants she had been wanting to try, and requested home cooked meals she had enjoyed for decades. She died peacefully at home with her family at her side.

She is survived by her children, Bruce of Philadelphia, Pa., Jane of Wheatridge, Colo., David of Chatham and Carol Fiocco of Gilbert, Ariz., and by three grandchildren, Hannah Wright of Phoenix, Ariz., and Maddie and Claire Nichols of Denver, Colo.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Edgartown. Interment will be private.

The family requests donations to any of the following in her memory: Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation, P.O. Box 38, Columbus, OH 43215; the Island Food Pantry, P.O. Box 1874, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568; the Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod Hospice, 434 Route 134, Suite G-1, South Dennis, MA 02660, or the charity of your choice.