John Nichols, a former member of the N.C. House of Representatives, died Sunday at his Vanceboro after a long illness. He was 72.
Nichols, also known as “Johnny Mack,” was elected to the General Assembly in 1992 and served for six years, according to his obituary. During that time Nichols, a Republican, was chairman of the House committee on the environment.
He also pushed legislation that required state university football teams to play other in-state teams in an effort to get East Carolina University back on North Carolina and N.C. State’s schedules. The legislation ended a nearly decade-long drought between the Wolfpack and the Pirates and an even longer one between the Tar Heels and their eastern neighbors.
Previously, both UNC and N.C. State played ECU regularly, with the State-East Carolina rivalry developing into the fiercest in North Carolina. The 1986 game attracted 58,650, the largest crowd in Carter-Finley Stadium history.
But in 1987, ECU fans rushed onto the field after a 32-14 Pirates’ win over the Wolfpack, causing thousands of dollars in damage and several injuries. A week later, NCSU officials announced they were discontinuing the series.
Nichols, of Farmville, was a U.S. Air Force veteran and served during the Vietnam War. He graduated with a business degree from ECU in 1971 and went on to a career as a banker at BB&T, Cameron Brown and First Union before starting his own businesses, including hog farming.
His funeral is 11 a.m. Thursday at Wilkerson Funeral Home in Greenville. Burial will be in the Nichols Family Cemetery. Visitation will be 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.