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Debra McBroom Nichols

Debra McBroom Nichols

July 14, 2016

Debra McBroom Nichols of Amsterdam, N.Y., longtime academic administrative assistant for the Health and Exercise Sciences and Dance departments, died Sunday, July 10, 2016. She was 60.

The Schenectady native was born on July 2, 1956, a daughter of Robert McBroom and the late Margaret Johnston McBroom.

Debra joined the Skidmore community in 1988 as a secretary in Physical Education and Dance. 

“Deb was a hard worker, but her greatest asset was how she treated people,” says professor Pat Fehling, past chair of the department now known as Health and Exercise Sciences. “She loved all things Skidmore, and she supported our Department with great care, individually assisting every faculty member. But perhaps most importantly, she loved the students. She kept a quotation over her desk that read: ‘Students are never an intrusion, they are the reason we are here.‘”

Says professor Debra Fernandez, chair of the Dance Department, “We have lost a very special member of our family. Deb was the heart and soul of our department. While doing the work of three people, she was still able to make everyone (faculty, staff, and students) feel cared about and cared for. She was dedicated, devoted, and extraordinarily dependable. However, I think what I treasured most was her laughter and sense of humor, which got me through many difficult days. Deb’s life seems to illustrate the well known quote ‘people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’”

Professor Paul Arciero agrees: “Deb lived a life of serving others without reservation or expectation of receiving anything in return. And that includes her own family. I want them to know that she loved them beyond words, that they were her inspiration.”

Outside of work, Debra was a member of the Ladies Book Club in Amsterdam and also enjoyed skiing, baking, reading, crafting, and spending time with family and friends.

Debra is survived by her father; husband Robert Nichols; daughters Tina Rae Pickrell, Melissa Lee Uebrick (Chris) and Christine Marie Nichols (Elijah), all of Amsterdam, N.Y.; brother Darryl McBroom (Jan) and sisters Ann Woods (Dennis) and Mary Hawkinson (Sean); four grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Relatives and friends are invited to call Saturday, July 16, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Riley Mortuary, 110 Division Street, Amsterdam, N.Y.  Cremation was held at Parkview Crematory in Schenectady.

Memorial gifts in Debra’s name may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

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