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Helen “Ann” Hawkins Nichols passed away on February 5, 2024 at the age of 87, having led a full and beautiful life. She was born on April 25, 1936 as the youngest of eight children and the only daughter of Seth Thomas Hawkins and Verna Severe Hawkins. She was raised in Boise, Idaho, where she graduated from Boise High School in 1954 before attending Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
While at BYU, one of her roommates set her up on a blind date with Alvin “George” Nichols. While George was the man of her dreams, her parents did not agree. However, George and Ann chose each other for eternity, and George quickly won over her parents and her seven older brothers. They were married in the Idaho Falls Temple on August 31, 1956, and settled in Pocatello, Idaho, where George worked for the Idaho Fish and Game Department. Ann sold Tupperware to supplement their income while raising three sons under the age of three.
In 1962, George and Ann relocated to Clearfield, Utah, where they opened Hawkins Red Steer Drive-In, as an expansion of the Hawkins family chain of restaurants in Idaho. This drive-in was one of, if not the first restaurant in Utah with a drive-thru. The convenience was so popular that they had a drive-thru on each side of the building. While living in Clearfield, they added two daughters to the family. During this time, they took a leap of faith, making a bold and unprecedented decision to close their restaurant on Sundays. Located near a main entrance to Hill Air Force Base, Sunday was the busiest day of the week, and they were warned that their business would not last long without that income. They continued with faith, and soon, their sales in six days were considerably more than they ever were in seven. This became a lifelong legacy of faith.
In 1968, the family moved to nearby Roy, Utah, where one additional son was born. They were active in their church and community, providing service and generous support to civic functions, charities, and schools. They were proud members of the Roy High booster club. They attended the Roy Third Ward (now Municipal Ward) where George served as bishop and Ann quietly stood by his side and served friends and neighbors in the background, all while caring for six busy children, never failing to get the family to church on time.
After closing their restaurant and selling the property, Ann went to work for the IRS until she and George formed a partnership with two other couples, to expand the Dairy Queen brand in northern Utah. At various times they enjoyed part ownership and managed Dairy Queens in the Layton and Ogden Malls, and Roy. When a decision was made by the majority shareholder to open most of their seven stores in the partnership on Sunday, George and Ann, and the other couple knew it was time to dissolve the partnership. The dissolution of their partnership left them as the owners of one Dairy Queen in Centerville, which was one of the stores that had recently been opened on Sunday. True to their faith, they closed the store on Sunday, fully expecting heavy pushback from their new and unfamiliar community. Instead, they were embraced and their DQ became an iconic gathering place. The least successful DQ in the state quickly became the busiest, not only in Utah, but several surrounding states. This Dairy Queen and the story of its success became local legend and the subject of many Sunday talks, lessons, and discussions.
In 2002, they moved to Syracuse, Utah. After their retirement, they served as hosts at the Conference Center in Salt Lake, and enjoyed time at their cabin in Island Park, Idaho. George passed away unexpectedly in 2006, just weeks before their 50th wedding anniversary.
Ann embraced this new and unexpected life with courage and determination to live life to the fullest. And she did! She traveled, supported her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren by attending graduations, baptisms, pageants, and all types of sporting events. She never missed a birthday. Each of her descendants and their spouses received a card on their birthday with crisp dollar bills in various denominations. She also remained close to George’s family, especially his three siblings: Elaine Hansen, Dennis Nichols, and Lois Matthews.
In 2014, she decided to downsize and live closer to some of her children, by moving to Centerville, Utah. Here, she made new friends and found ways to serve others despite her advancing age. She overcame many obstacles and health challenges throughout her life. She cheated death on several occasions, and looking back on her life, stated that had she known what was ahead, she would have been certain that she could not have triumphed over such difficulties. But triumph she did!
She was an avid Utah Jazz fan and season ticket holder until her health made it difficult to attend. She continued to cheer them on from home, and her family dared not call while she was watching a game. During the last years of her life, she went to Mexico and Jamaica, on cruises, to MLB spring training in Phoenix, and at the age of 86, checked the last item off her bucket list by touring Europe with family members. Though she visited fabulous destinations, her favorite place was with her family. The children and grandchildren loved going to the family cabin in Island Park where she treated them to ice cream in West Yellowstone and made her famous French toast.
Ann is survived by four sons, two daughters, and their spouses: Greg (Kim) Nichols, Mike (Jan) Nichols, Tim (Stacie) Nichols, Julie (Scott) Thompson, Becky (Mark) Roundy, and Kirk (Amanda) Nichols, twenty-four grandchildren, and twenty-eight great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, brothers, Gilman, Earl, Floyd, Clair, Reed, Grover, and Ted Hawkins and their spouses, as well as her grandson, Kyle Nichols, and two great-grandchildren, Jovie Brower and Huck Thompson.
A viewing will be held on Friday, February 9, from 6:00 -8:00 pm at Myers Mortuary, 5865 S 1900 W, Roy, Utah. There will also be a viewing from 9:30-10:30 am prior to the funeral at 11:00 am on Saturday, February 10, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 690 N 400 W, Centerville, UT, with interment at the Syracuse City Cemetery.
A recording of Ann’s funeral will be available on Myer’s Mortuary website soon after the service is completed.