William Henry “Bill” Nuchols, Jr.

William Henry (“Bill”) Nuckols, Jr., of Newport News, died March 15, 2021, after living with Parkinson’s Disease for 20+ years. Born on April 23, 1941, the son of William H. and Ava Nuckols, he grew up just one block from the Chesapeake Bay in Newport News. He spent his childhood boating, swimming, and digging clams out of the muddy waters. He owned a rowboat at the age of 12, followed by a giant rubber raft and then a classic “racing runabout.” After graduating from Newport News High School in 1959, he sought adventure on bigger boats and served in the U.S. Navy from 1959–1963. He wed the love of his life, Molly Hansen Nuckols, when he was 19. In just a handful of days after his death, they would have been married 60 years.

Joining the Navy was a path to see the world, and Bill sailed through the northern parts of Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean. During the Cuban Missile Crisis blockade of merchant ships, he maintained his ship’s targeting RADAR but humbly admitted he did not know the U.S. was on the cusp of war. Within a week of leaving the Navy, C&P Telephone Company hired him as a telephone technician. While the company’s name and his work location changed many times, from 1963–2011 Bill remained a go-to guy for fixing things in a way that would last. Quality mattered to Bill, as did helping people.

Boats and bikes were Bill’s passions. Money for his childhood boats came from a classic childhood job-a paper route-and with the paper route came the use of a bike. His son Will followed in his footsteps with a paper route and bike. It was Will’s biking that spurred a family pastime that Bill shared with his son and daughter. They enjoyed countless miles on the road together. In the early 1980s, Bill joined the Peninsula Bicycling Association and became a frequent ride leader, organizer, and advocate, working for years to connect signed bike routes across the Peninsula. Bill did in the bike club what he did in life: bring people together with his quiet charm, an engaging smile, and a kindness that appeared to have no bounds. While on a group ride, he met Stuart Fielding and introduced him to his daughter Patricia, essentially handpicking his son-in-law. Their happy marriage proves that Bill was a good matchmaker. Bill only stopped cycling recently when his health dictated his biking retirement.

His childhood love of the water never waned. When Bill was in his 60s, his son Will talked him into SCUBA diving, and he shared several diving and snorkeling adventures with both children in the Florida Keys. His wife Molly preferred to stay dry, but she is a skilled fisherwoman. They spent many hours boating and fishing on their boat the Mollywog.

Bill is survived by his wife Molly; his daughter Patricia Fielding and her husband Stuart; his son William H. Nuckols III and his wife Cecelia; and grandchildren Kevin Weber, James Fielding, Bradley Fielding, and Ava Nuckols. The family suggests that memorial donations be made to to honor Bill’s love of NPR. A celebration of life will be held later in the year.