Cover photo for Donald E. Nicholson's Obituary
Donald E. Nicholson Profile Photo
1934 Donald 2022

Donald E. Nicholson

June 22, 1934 — October 11, 2022

Donald E. Nicholson (88) passed away early Tuesday morning, October 11, 2022 at St. Patrick Hospital surrounded by family.

Don was born on June 22, 1934 in Missoula, MT to Ewen & Edna (Olson) Nicholson. He was soon followed by his twin brothers, Stuart and Stanley, two years later, and together they grew up in the greater Missoula area. In their preschool days, they lived in the Bitteroot Valley near Darby. When Don became school age, the family moved to Missoula to the house his father built. He went to school in Missoula from grade school through college, graduating from the University of Montana in 1956 with a BS degree in Chemistry. He was in the Army ROTC program & then following graduation served in Korea as a tank commander.

While in college, he met Donna Goodmansen and they were married in September 1956. They had 5 sons (Scott, Gregg, Mark, Eric, Kyle) and made multiple moves across the U.S. while the family was growing up. Don’s first job after returning from Korea was as a chemist in a paper mill. He remained and excelled in the paper business with multiple companies throughout his career, rising to the level of mill manager. Don was very active with the Boy Scouts and all 5 of his boys were in scouting with his youngest son, Kyle, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. He took up a hobby of creating stained glass pictures for family members and friends in the 1980’s. All his boys still proudly display the works he gave to each of them.
Donna passed away in 1993 after a courageous 4-year battle with breast cancer.

Don was a long-time “Griz supporter” and served a term as University of Montana Alumni President. While attending homecoming, he became reacquainted with Ardice Steinbrenner and they were married in September 1995. They moved from Illinois to Connecticut in 1996 and Don ran a paper mill there for Robert and Jonathan Kraft, who are owner and president of the New England Patriots. He soon became a huge fan after attending many Patriot games and remained so for the rest of his life. He retired from the paper industry in 2000 and they returned to Missoula for good. There they became owners of Mountain States Collision Repair until they sold the shop, and Don fully retired.

Throughout his life, Don was very involved in the communities where he lived. He served on the Missoula City Council twice, once in the late 1960’s and again in the 2000’s. During his first stint on city council, he helped in getting the “turtle fountains” put in some of Missoula’s city parks. While living in Albany, OR in the 1970’s, he was instrumental in obtaining a grant to build the Albany Community Pool. He also was heavily involved in getting the indoor tennis courts built at the Albany Tennis Club. After returning to Missoula, he was a big driver and originator in starting the University of Montana’s Sports Hall of Champions, and was the first to make a donation to get it off and running.

Family was very important in Don’s life. He, along with his dad and his brothers, built the family, two-story A-frame cabin on Placid Lake in the early 1960’s. He designed the spiral staircase that connects the two floors, as well as the outside deck, which hosted numerous gatherings. The Nicholson cabin is still used every summer by many family members and has seen many family reunions over the years. He and Ardice felt it was important for their grandchildren to get to know each other, so they held two “Grandkids Camps” at the family cabins on Placid and Big Sky Lakes.

Don was preceded in death by his first wife Donna, son Gregg, brother Stan and nephew Brian.

He is survived by his wife Ardice, Brother Stu (Janie), sisters-in-law Colleen and Sharon (Fred) Weldon, sons Scott (Susan), Mark (Kelley), Eric, Kyle (Edna), stepsons Gerry and Tom Steinbrenner, stepdaughter Jill (Barry) Olson many grandchildren, step grandchildren, great grandchildren, nephews, a niece and cousins.

A memorial service for Don will be held at The Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Missoula at 11:00am on Friday, November 18, 2022 with a reception to follow. Donations, in lieu of flowers, can be made to the Grizzly Athletic Association, Hall of Champions, Attn Greg Sundberg, Adams Center-139, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812; the University of Montana Alumni Association, or any charity of your choosing in memory of Don.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Donald E. Nicholson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, November 18, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Mountain time)

Holy Spirit Episcopal Church

130 S 6th St E, Missoula, MT 59801

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