Florence Paine Nicholas 1909-2004
Florence Paine Nicholas, daughter of Roger and Bess Kennedy Paine, died April 24,
2004 at Prairie Good Samaritan Center in Miller, SD just three weeks short of her 95th
Florence May Paine was born May 15, 1909, in Wright County, Iowa. She was the
great-granddaughter of Iowa pioneers and a proud descendant of the Paine family who
sailed from England to Massachusetts in 1639.
When Florence was seven years old, her parents brought their young family to Hand
County to work the family ranch south of Ree Heights. When the family home in Ree
Heights was built they moved to town where Florence helped out in the family enterprises of the Ree Implement Store and the telephone company.
As a young child she was nurtured to a life of faith and service by the strong Presbyterian
faith of her mother's Campbell-Kennedy clan. Upon moving to Ree Heights, the family
joined the Congregational Church where she was a stalwart member the rest of her life.
She was also a member of the Order of Eastern Star.
After graduating as salutatorian from Ree Heights High School and spending a year at
Huron College, in 1928 she married Hoyt Nicholas. Through the dust bowl years they
lived as teachers in several small South Dakota towns.
In 1940 they moved back to Ree Heights, where she was active as a 4-H leader,
community volunteer, and gracious hostess to her extended family. Later she finished her degree at Huron College and taught in the Hand City School, the Ree Heights grade
school, and in Miller. Her students remember her for her interest in birds. Her children
remember her for unfailing love, for her humor and love of words; to the end of her life
she was able to recite long passages of poetry. Visiting relatives knew they would
always find a warm welcome at her table, along with hot cinnamon rolls. Others
remember her dining room as a place where a sharp game of bridge could always be
found. Her friends in retirement at Pharr, Texas, knew her as teacher of oil painting,
which she loved throughout her life. Grandchildren knew her as Gramma Florence, a safe port in an uncertain world, with a cookie jar always full of her famous Cowboy Cookies.
Treasured by many today are her finely crafted works of weaving, quilting, and other
To many across South Dakota and Texas she was known as Florence N., friend of Lois
Wilson, actively helping create national Al-Anon materials. She aimed in life to use what
was at hand in doing what needed to be done and to live "One Day at a Time."
She is survived by a brother, David Paine of Owatonna, Minn.; a sister, Jane McGee, of
Corvallis, Ore.; her three children: Betty Bowers (Ronald) McMurry of Tucson, Ariz., Hoyt
(Kat) Nicholas of Custer, S.D.; Roger (Linda) Nicholas of Sheridan, Wyo. and two
daughters-in-law. There are also 14 grandchildren, 40 great-grandchildren, two
great-great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins across the
country. She is also survived by many dear members of the A.I. Nicholas family.
Five Paine siblings, her parents, and two granddaughters predeceased her. A Memorial
Service will be held at the Ree Heights Community Church on Sunday afternoon May 30,
2004. Burial will be in Morningside Cemetery, Ree Heights, next to her beloved husband
of 63 years.
Florence Paine Nicholas
Hand County, South Dakota Genealogy & Family Research Center
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RHHS 1963 faculty
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