By Rose S. Prinzi
It is not very often that we encounter individuals whose passions and generosity touch our lives long after they have passed; however, Malcolm and Jeanette Malmstrom Nichols were such individuals. Through their personal commitments and charitable natures, the Nichols epitomized that spirit of giving.
Malcolm Nichols was a graduate of Jamestown High School, the Cascadilla Prep School at Cornell University and the Cleveland School of Art. Prior to retirement, he was part owner and chairman of the board of Field and Wright, and a local realtor.
He was a member of Phi Delta Theta and Pi Phi Fraternities. His other involvements included: Jamestown Optimist Club, Jamestown Boys Club, Mount Moriah Lodge 145 Free & Accepted Masons, and Jamestown Consistory. Interestingly, he was also an early radio ham operator, getting his first license in 1921.
Mr. Nichols’ intense interest in local history led him to seek out memorabilia and artifacts, which he routinely donated to the Fenton Historical Society. As one of the original founders of the Fenton Historical Society and Museum, he served as curator, collector, and restorer until his death in 1996. He was also a life member of the Chautauqua County Historical Society and the American Philatelic Society.
Over time, Malcolm became a local authority on postal history. In 1960, he published a book, “The Early History of the Chautauqua County Post Offices,” which can be viewed at the Fenton History Center. At the time, he donated copies of the book to various historical societies and libraries across New York State.
After graduating from Jamestown High School, Jeanette Malmstrom worked as a legal secretary to Richmond Hayes, Esq., a local patent attorney. She married Malcolm in 1935, and the couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in June of 1995. They had no children.
Like her husband, Jeanette took an active interest in numerous Jamestown organizations. She was a board member of the Jamestown Girl’s Club, WCA Hospital Auxiliary, Roger Tory Peterson Institute, and the Marvin House until her death in 1996.
Both were members of the Fenton Historical Society, Moon Brook Country Club, Town Club, and First Congregational Church.
With their deep commitment to the preservation of local history, the Nichols realized that extra money was always needed to acquire library and museum material. In 1992, they established a fund through the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to benefit the Fenton History Center.
In 2001, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation received a generous gift from the estate of C. Malcolm and Jeanette Malmstrom Nichols, one of the largest single gifts bequeathed to the Foundation. This gift created four new funds at the Foundation that mirror the couple’s interests:
* A general scholarship fund designed to assist students with a “B” average
* A vocational education scholarship fund
* A fund to support the Roger Tory Peterson Institute
* A community service fund
Since the creation of these five funds, over 670 grants have been awarded, totaling over $550,000. The Nichols’ legacy will live on; their good works and generous hearts will be felt for generations to come.