Sally Humphreys Nicoll — August 29, 2023

Sally Humphreys Nicoll, 90, of Concord, New Hampshire, passed away quickly and peacefully on August 29, 2023, at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital in Concord. In the days prior to her passing she had been visited by all her immediate family, including her two children, three grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Sally Humphreys Nicoll, August 29, 2023

Sally was born on December 2, 1932, at Concord Hospital, the first child of H. Everett Humphreys and Eleanor Gerrish Humphreys. Sally was joined later in their home on South Street by two younger sisters, Gail and Jemi.

Sally enjoyed a long and productive life. She met her lifelong love and future husband, Wayne Nicoll, at Concord High School, Class of 1950, where Sally was a cheerleader, chair of the levee, an actress, bowler, and basketball, badminton, and volleyball player.

She went on to receive an Associate Degree from Colby Junior College for Women in 1952 and then her B.A. degree from Hobart & William Smith College, after which she traveled to England, where she served as a Winant Volunteer social worker in East London. She later met the Queen Mother, who acknowledged Sally’s service to war-torn Britain. In 2017, she proudly attended the dedication of the statue in tribute to Governor Winant in downtown Concord while wearing her original volunteer adornments.

After her return to the USA from England, Sally earned her Master’s Degree in Group Work from Columbia University. There she was an editor of the university’s newspaper, working with such notables as Brock Yates and Ben Wattenberg. She then worked in social services in the rough streets of Newburgh, New York, while waiting for her future husband to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Sally became Mrs. Wayne Brackett Nicoll in the Old Cadet Chapel of West Point on June 4, 1957, the day he graduated. Together they had two children, Gregory (born 1958) and Jemi (born 1960). From 1961 to 1966 Wayne’s career took the Nicoll family to Germany, first to Frankfurt and then to Berlin during the early days of the Berlin Wall.

By a stroke of good fortune, rather than typical military housing, the Nicolls were assigned a huge, old mansion in downtown Berlin, where Sally created a magical childhood for her children in the three-story home with pocket doors, a coal furnace cleaned by a visiting chimney sweep, wardrobes instead of closets, and servant quarters between two intriguing attics — plus gardens and an abandoned fish pond filled with sand. The streets were cobblestone and the angled driveway perfect for winter sledding downhill.

Sally relished the challenge of the huge home and city and hosted parties for Army officers and visiting dignitaries, as well as welcoming her parents for holidays — her father especially enjoying Berlin’s open-air food markets with live eels in buckets and bleu cheese, his wife’s favorite! When Sally’s longtime friend from New Hampshire, Margaret Keenan Ainslee, visited, she escorted young Greg and Jemi through nearby museums of some of the world’s great treasures.

Sally’s lifelong passion for a great greeting card (she sent untold thousands of them over her life) no doubt came from an old Russian gentleman who had been a guard in the palace of Nicholas and Alexandra. He maintained friendship long after the Nicolls left Germany by sending them ornate, heavily glittered Christmas greetings.

While in Berlin, Sally supported Wayne (a four-year lettered athlete in distance running at West Point) in coaching American students in running and cross-country sports. They received recognition from the Berlin Police for their coaching and youth sports program. The Nicoll family returned to the USA in 1966 and were based at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia, where they lived for 23 years. 

For 11 years Sally worked full time, first as a teacher, then as Vice Principal and Director of Curriculum at Augusta’s Episcopal Day School where she became famous for her use of the 1970s iconic “smiley face” everywhere in her office décor, to serve as a demonstration of the power of positivity. As Wayne was serving two tours of duty in Vietnam (1967-1968 and 1972-1973), Sally managed as a virtual single parent to her two growing children. 

Every day she tape-recorded and mailed audio “letters” to Wayne — keeping his spirits up and updating him on what was happening in the family. Wayne would record his own messages over the same tapes and send them home, causing much excitement whenever the mail was delivered.

In 1977 Wayne retired from the military after 20 years in active service. Sally became manager of their sports business, selling footwear and equipment and providing technical expertise to long-distance runners and running organizations. Her organizational skills led them into promoting footrace events throughout the Southeast and they became nationally recognized as experts for setting standards in race course measurement. 

This expertise put them in demand across the USA, measuring long-distance racecourses, including the Boston, Disney World, and New York Marathons. In 1988 they provided the technical course measurement for the US Olympic Trials and measured the course for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Such accomplishments earned Sally and Wayne the first-ever Ted Corbitt Award from USA Track & Field for their pioneering work in road race course measurement.

In 1992 Sally was selected by the US Track and Field Association as their team manager for the USA Women’s National Team. She made all the arrangements and accompanied the athletes to Beijing for the international competition where they competed in a relay event along the Great Wall. In 1994 Sally was appointed to the same role for the organization’s distance event in Seoul, South Korea. As she wrote in a note to her former college classmates, these were “pretty proud moments for a woman who never ran a competitive step herself!”

In 1989 Sally and Wayne closed their sports business in Georgia and moved back to New Hampshire to be closer to their daughter, three grandchildren, and Sally’s aging parents. They lived year-round at the Ragged Mountain Fish and Game Club, in Andover, where they became cornerstones of the club’s community for more than three decades. 

Sally’s service included 12 years as a Board Director, during many of which she was also the club’s Vice President. She co-chaired the Clubhouse Committee, served on the Forestry Committee, and she rewrote the Club Customs booklet. She also worked closely with her father, H. Everett Humphreys, during the acquisition of 241 acres of land on the mountainside above Cole Pond, for which they secured a conservation easement (preventing any future construction/development) and then gifted the land to the club.

As a member of the Andover Historical Society, she was instrumental in assisting her father’s preservation of J.C. Emons Store, the RR Freight House, and shoring up the Cilleyville Bog Covered Bridge to make its eventual restoration possible. She also was a fixture at all AHS fairs and fundraisers.

During their final years at Ragged Mountain, as Wayne’s Alzheimer’s began taking its toll, Sally managed to give him a very quiet and meaningful existence in the rugged outdoors he loved. She used every “teacher and mother trick” she knew to keep him healthy and active until 2015, when they eventually relocated to Pleasant View Retirement in Concord. There they celebrated 60 years of marriage, alongside granddaughter Eleanor and her husband celebrating their first anniversary.

Sally connected with old and new friends at Pleasant View Retirement and remained a resident after Wayne passed away at the end of 2017. She contributed much to the community there, too, as a model hostess for new residents, curator of the cards in the Pleasantry Shoppe, and member of the Dining Committee. She especially enjoyed her backyard picnic lunches on sunny days behind PVR, with Jemi, Eleanor, and her four New Hampshire great-grandchildren.

A lifelong student of history, Sally was proud of her nearly 70-year membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution — an exclusive organization for descendants of America’s original patriots — and she embraced other cultures wherever she was, making sure her two children had a deep understanding of the historical background wherever they were traveling, including the Auschwitz concentration camp, the streams and mountains of Austria, the battlefields of the American Civil War, and generations of family gravesites and birthplaces in New England.

As a vibrant, award-winning teacher, educator, and administrator, Sally met many famous children’s authors while completing post-graduate work at UGA during summers and shared her passion for children’s literature with her grandchildren’s classrooms at Conant Elementary School. Her daughter and family will be forever grateful for her special care given to all of the Broussards during Jemi’s two brain-tumor surgeries and recoveries in 1992 and 1997.

Sally gracefully balanced full-time work as an educator and a business manager, raising children and being the lifelong loving spouse to a career military officer. Their joint passion for the U.S. Military Academy and its history led Wayne to become a West Point admissions representative for New Hampshire. 

Sally would interact with local families of prospects, building relationships that would continue once they became cadets training at West Point. Sally accompanied Wayne on many weekend trips back to New York for class reunions and Army football games at which Sally’s “tailgate tables” were unrivaled.

Sally never paid a bill late, almost never missed an occasion to send a timely or meaningful card, and her handwriting was exemplary. She never missed an appointment for her health and was very proud to still have all her own teeth at age 90!

A role model for resilience, she beat advanced ovarian cancer — something few women do — as well as breast cancer, two spinal fusions, and two hip replacements, leading one of her doctors to note that she was like “a good used car,” yet she lived to celebrate her 90th birthday last December surrounded by a crowd of friends and family who dearly loved her. The affection she had earned was most recently evidenced by the dozens of cards, bouquets of flowers, and boxes of chocolates that she received after a series of strokes put her in nearby Concord Hospital and then Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital.

Sally will be greatly missed by her sister Gail Taylor and husband Ed Taylor of Old Towne, Maine, and by her sister Jemi Howell of Marlborough, Massachusetts.; by Sally’s children, Gregory Nicoll of Atlanta, and Jemi Broussard of Concord, and by their spouses, Elizabeth Fuller-Nicoll and Richard Broussard; by her grandchildren Daniel Webster Broussard, Eleanor Sarah Poirier and husband Michael Andrew Pratt Poirier of Penacook, and Elizabeth Broussard Red and husband Roderick Steven Red, Jr. of Jackson, Mississippi; as well as by her New Hampshire great grandchildren: Evangeline Marie Poirier, Michael Boethius Poirier, Beatrix Anne Poirier, and Hubert Richard Poirier, and her Mississippi great-grandson Roderick William “Trey” Red, as well as by numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

The family is grateful to Sally’s many dear friends for the help and comfort they selflessly provided during her final months, especially friends John and Susan Hodgson, Jim Danforth, and her many friends and fans at Pleasant View Retirement, especially Director Cindy Trombley, Activities Director Jennifer Reynolds, Megg Howard, her determined visitors and encouragers Betteann Leahy and Pat Davis, Electra Monroe, Marty and Joanna, and good friend Bob Deforest, whose faithful check-ins for dinner over the years, and especially his fellowship during the pandemic lockdown, were very special to Sally.

The family also extends deep, sincere thanks to Christina DeRose and her team of angels at Rest Assured Home Care; to Frances, Judy, and the team from Granite VNA; to Dr. Cornell and the nurses of 4W at Concord Hospital, and to Dr. Collins and the amazing therapists at Encompass Rehab — especially wound care specialist Jess, and therapists RaeLyn and Cassie for their gentle and compassionate treatments during Sally’s final weeks.

A funeral service for Sally was held on September 19, at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen. Following the funeral service, a Celebration of Life was held at Bennett Funeral Home Reception Hall in Concord. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Nicoll family. Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be sent to the NHSVC in Boscawen.