Fayetteville resident Diane Nichols, 72, was born in what was then Georgia Baptist Hospital and grew up in East Point. Her dad owned an Amoco station. An only child, she has fond memories of spending time at the station and playing on the register. Her mom was a homemaker who volunteered extensively in both their church and their community, an example that Diane took to heart and followed after she grew up.
“Mom was always busy,” she recalls. “She ran our church’s vacation Bible school, she volunteered with a neighborhood club that helped shut-ins. Helping others is just part of my DNA – and it brings me great joy.”
After high school graduation, Diane worked in Delta’s revenue accounting department for a little over two years. Then a friend invited her to a single’s Christmas social at Jefferson Avenue Baptist Church and she met her husband, Dalphus, whom everyone here knows as “Nick.”
“We met on December tenth, we were engaged by the end of the year, and we married in May,” Diane laughs. “It was a God thing. We were meant to be together at that moment. My dad was diagnosed with cancer in January, he was released from the hospital two weeks before my wedding and they brought him to the church to take photos and walk me down the aisle, and he passed away three weeks later. My mom was alone and didn’t even know how to drive. Nick sold my dad’s manual transmission truck and bought her a little automatic and taught her to drive. He was there for both of us.”
Diane continued working for Delta until about the time she found out she was pregnant with the couple’s first son.
“Back then, you couldn’t keep working,” she explains. “You had to quit your job and then reapply if you wanted to come back after the baby was born. But we’d already decided I’d stay home, so I did.”
“Always ask how you can help others. It will come back to you in ways you can’t even believe.”
Diane and Nick’s son, Kevin was born on their two-year anniversary, and their daughter, Roxanne came along five years later. After her father passed, Diane has spent some time volunteering with the American Cancer Society and, once her kids were born, she began volunteering in earnest, just as her mother had.
“I volunteered at their schools, as room mother and on the PTO,” she says. “Then I began volunteering at South Fulton Hospital and, later, at Piedmont Fayette. And I was always active in our church, New Hope.”
In 1985, Diane and a friend opened Sonrise Christian Bookstore, which she sold in 1996. Then she became the church librarian at New Hope, a role she treasures to this day.
“We have a lot of home schooling moms who don’t even attend our church, but find out about our library and come to visit,” she says. “I’ve had moms in tears say, ‘you don’t know how much money this will save me!’ And I cry right along with them, every time!”
Diane, though, is a person who naturally serves in private as well.
“Ms. Diane and Mr. Nick have been like second grandparents to me and my siblings,” says Diane’s nominator, Alex Domaleski. “Mr. Nick, built us our own playhouse in their backyard. They kept paints and toys specifically for us. Ms. Diane hemmed every prom or formal dress I have ever owned. She taught us how to sew and to be involved in our community.”
“Diane has been impacting my life since I was born. Her goodness has been a huge influence on my family. She has always had an encouraging spirit-motivating me to be the best I can be.”
These days, much of Diane’s time is spent packing and unpacking; she and Nick are in the process of moving to a new home a few miles away – and her son and his family are moving from Brunswick to buy the current home. The pair recently celebrated their fiftieth anniversary.
“We have a very, very good life,” she says. “I’m blessed every day.”