Funeral Mass held for Mary Shirley Johnson Nicholson

A funeral Mass was held for Mary Shirley Johnson Nicholson, age 100,  on Dec. 11 at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, with Father David Boettner serving as celebrant.

Mrs. Nicholson, who died on Nov. 28 at Shannondale Health Care Center, was born on July 31, 1921, in Chicago to Floyd and Ida Johnson.

After living and attending school in Chicago, Elgin, Ill., St. Charles, Ill., and Frankfurt, Ind., she graduated at the top of her class from Purdue University in December 1942.

She was recruited as a Curtiss-Wright Cadette as part of the World War II effort and took part in an aeronautical engineering training program at Penn State University. She then worked for the Curtiss-Wright company in Buffalo, N.Y., and Columbus, Ohio. She eventually moved to Oak Ridge to work for Fairchild Aircraft on the nuclear energy for propulsion aircraft project.

Mrs. Nicholson married Edward (Nick) Lee Nicholson Jr. in February 1951 in Oak Ridge. Mr. Nicholson was a chemical engineer who worked in Oak Ridge as part of the Manhattan Project and later retired from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Mrs. Nicholson was active in many Knoxville-area organizations, including the Ladies of Charity and the Smoky Mountains Storytelling Association.

She is preceded in death by her husband of 61 years, Nick; her son, Edward Lee Nicholson III, sister Lorraine; and brothers Jim and Pat.

She is survived by her sister, Fran Johnston; three sons and two daughters-in-law, Paul Edward Nicholson and wife Faye Chang of Thousand Oaks, Calif., Dr. Charles Patrick Nicholson and wife Dr. Niki Stephanie Nicholas of Norris and Oneida, and Gerard Lee Nicholson of Guyton, Ga.; and grandchildren Ian Nicholson of Oxnard, Calif., Elle Nicholson of Alexandria, Va., and Eric Nicholson of San Diego; great-grandchild Dylan Nicholson; and foster son, Nguyen Nho Phong of New Market, Va.

Memorials may be made in Mrs. Nicholson’s name to the American Chestnut Foundation, www.acf.org, or the Sacred Heart Cathedral building fund, www.shcathedral.org.

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