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M. Winifred Nichols - Obituary


M. Winifred Nichols, 99 of Denver, former Sidney and Minot, ND resident, passed away Sunday morning, August 28, 2016 at the Brookdale Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Denver.

Military Graveside services were held at 11 a.m., Friday, September 2 in the Forest Hill Cemetery near Mt. Etna, IA. Memorial contributions may be made in Winifred's name to the donor's choice. You may view her Book of Memories, leave condolences, photos and stories at

Gehrig-Stitt Chapel & Cremation Service, LLC in Sidney and Pearson Family Funeral Service in Corning, IA were in charge of Winifred's care and funeral arrangements.

Maurine Winifred Johnston was born on July 17, 1917, the daughter of John F. and Edna Z. (McCarter) Johnston in Lincoln Township of Cloud County, Concordia, KS. She was the third born child of five children, having two older sisters and two younger brothers. She was raised on a ranch in western Kansas and graduated from Winona High School in Winona, KS in 1934.

Winifred had a carefree childhood growing up on the Zanzibar Ranch in Wallace County, in western Kansas, spending summers outdoors in the pastures, hayfields and helping her mother with the large garden which needed constant attention. Cash money was hard to come by in those days of drought and depression. When the time came to enter nurses training she and her mother sold, for one dollar each, the seventy-five turkeys they had raised that summer. This money paid tuition and expenses for the first of three years of training. Following her high school graduation, she attended Beth-El Hospital School of Nursing in Colorado Springs, CO. She studied and worked many hours until she attained her R.N. Diploma in Nursing in 1937. She then passed her state board exams and became a registered nurse. After graduation, she joined the Red Cross, pledging to serve her country in the event of a natural disaster. She then became employed as a nurse in the operating room at hospitals in Fort Collins, CO and San Antonio, TX. Winifred enlisted in the United States Navy Nurse Corps Reserve on November 6, 1942. She proudly served her country as a nurse and was stationed at Mare Island, CA, Camp Pendleton, CA, Guadalcanal, South Pacific and in New Caledonia, South Pacific during World War II. She taught medical corpsmen practical nursing care and first aid procedures. Winifred was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Ribbon and the American Theater Ribbon, the WWII Victory Medals and was honorably discharged on January 31, 1946. Following her discharge from the Navy, she took a post graduate course in operating room nursing at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, MO. In 1947, she attended Denver University where she received her B.A. Degree in English and Anthropology in 1950. On March 30, 1951, she was back to naval duty during the Korean War. She was stationed at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital near Oakland, CA where she taught corpsmen operating room techniques. Winifred was again honorably discharged on September 2, 1952. On March 11, 1953, Winifred was united in marriage to Lt. Commander, Merrill Howard Nichols. Mr. Nichols was in foreign construction. Before moving to Minot, ND in 1960, they lived in New Brunswick, Canada, Zaragoza, Spain, Picton, Ontario, Canada and in South Vietnam. Merrill died of lung cancer on August 27, 1961.

Following her husband's death, Winifred began employment with Trinity Medical Center in October of 1961 as an operating room nurse. She eventually became the head surgical nurse before retiring in October 1979. In 1984, she participated in Ombudsman Programs as a volunteer at Trinity Nursing Home in Minot. After the death of her father, Winifred's mother came to live with her until her death in 1990 at the age of one hundred three and a half.

Winifred was a member of Vincent United Methodist Church in Minot.

With the passing of Winifred another old time nurse leaves the scene. One who was trained scarcely fifty years following the first efforts of Florence Nightingale to bring respectability to the nursing profession, an era when cleanliness and home remedies were the only weapons in the battle against disease and infection. It was a fight against deplorable sanitary conditions, ignorance, superstition, prejudice and poverty.

Survivors include (1) sister-in-law: Dorthy Johnston of Mullen, NE, several nieces, nephews and extended family members.

Winifred was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, sisters: Eleanor Ellis and Vesta Short, brothers: Frederick Johnston and Bob Johnston and wife Jean.


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