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Remembering Lt. Col. Jim Nicholson: Brave, Brilliant, Modest, and a Hero | March 2019


Published on Mar 4, 2019
by Dr. Corey Franklin
Jim Nicholson (of Gloucester City, NJ)was many things in his career - among them an investigative reporter, a military intelligence officer, and the best obituary writer in the country. From 1982-2001, he wrote obituaries, primarily for The Philadelphia Daily News, and he specialized in “common man” obits. He is widely regarded as one of the pioneers in that field, and recognized for his skill in capturing the essence of his subjects. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize six times, and his work as an investigative reporter helped bring down some of Philadelphia’s leading crime figures. His book on military intelligence, Because No One Else Can is considered a classic in the field. He was one of America’s most talented writers and thinkers.
Jim Nicholson was once presented with one of life’s great open questions: How would you describe yourself? For some people, that could be an invitation for ego-stroking, a chance to paint the most flattering, fascinating portrait their imaginations can conjure. Mr. Nicholson answered with the verbal equivalent of a shrug. He was a simple man, he said, not terribly complicated. Nothing much to see here, in other words. You could fill a phone book with all of the things he left out. Mr. Nicholson was an accomplished investigative journalist and a legendary obituary writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, where he spent 19 years celebrating the lives of men and women who were the true lifeblood of the city — the cooks, carpenters, bus drivers and janitors whose stories often went untold.