Jon Nicholson

24 November 2014
Jon Nicholson ’58
Jon Nicholson ’58

Jon “Whitey” Nicholson ’58 died of a stroke on Friday, November 21, at the age of 78. Jon worked at Carleton for 34 years, primarily in Admissions, as well as in Alumni Relations, Publications, and Financial Aid. Although he retired in 1999, Jon remained active in the alumni and athletic communities, and was a mentor and friend of so many people. Jon was kind, thoughtful, funny, and deeply loyal to the College and its community. In Admissions, Jon was especially supportive of students from small Minnesota towns and athletes, but he knew how to break the tension of difficult decisions by bringing out his ukulele and singing for the staff.  

Jon graduated from Carleton in 1958 as a Government/International Relations major, having been a varsity athlete in baseball and basketball. He received Carleton’s Alumni Award for Exceptional Service in 2003. He was married to Ann for 55 years, and they have 3 children and 7 grandchildren.  

A memorial service for Jon will be held on Wednesday, November 26 at 11 a.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Northfield. More information can be found at the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home website. Memorial gifts may be sent to Carleton, St John’s Lutheran Church, or the donor’s choice.  

Please keep Ann and all of their family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.

In sorrow and gratitude,

Posted In


  • 2014-11-24 10:55:36
    Lorie Tuma

    I was saddened to read of Jon's passing. I was able to spend time with Jon, Jack Thurnblad and Casey Jarchow when I first

    began at Carleton in the mid-1980's. The friendship, humor and acts of kindness they shared was a great comfort for all of them,

    and made an impact on me, and lower Scoville Hall. 

    Jon always had a smile on his face, and was genuinely interested in each person he came into contact with. He will be missed.

    I will keep Ann and the family in my thoughts and prayers.

  • 2014-11-24 11:01:17
    Eric Hillemann

    Jon's passing is such a loss to Carleton, to which he gave so much, and about which he was so passionate. Too soon, too soon. My deepest sympathies to Ann, and the rest of their family. I am remembering many things, right now the entertaining and informative slide show Jon used to give to new students on Carleton traditions, which I watched him deliver sometime probably in 1990. I recall him ending(?) with a fervent exhortation to "beat the Oles!" His father's son, Carleton was a family inheritance, in Jon's genetic makeup from birth; i imagine his blood was colored Maize and Blue. He should have lived a thousand years.

  • 2014-11-24 13:50:57
    Charlene Hamblin

    My heart is heavy, as I learn today of Jon's passing.  Jon hired me in the Carleton Admissions Office nearly 20 years ago; what a kind and wonderful man. I will miss his smile and his great sense of humor. Cheers, Jon; you were a salt of the earth soul and among Carleton's among cream of the crop, my friend.


  • 2014-11-24 16:07:22
    William Solberg, '58 Class Agent

    Whitey was the soul of the class of 1958. He was our drum major, director, and lead singer all in one. Like Bob Hope, he would appear on stage and we all would start to smile. Each class needs needs someone with that magic quality to bring the class together and that was Whitey. He was a beautiful person and the class will never forget him.

  • 2014-11-25 17:21:49
    Beverlee DeCoux

    Jon was unfailingly gracious and charming. I always got a hug from him at the Heywood luncheon. Ann, I can hardly believe it and my heart goes out to you. What a loss for the whole Carleton community.

  • 2015-01-15 12:01:19
    J.G. Preston '80

    I have just now learned on Jon's death and am so sorry to hear it. A good man. My condolences to the Nicholson family and his many friends.

  • 2015-02-12 15:50:16
    Clyde Smith '59

    Whitey and I became friends playing baseball at Washburn High School and then at Carleton and, although intermittent, our contacts over the years always remained full of friendship. Whitey was one of those rare great guys. A true heart man. You could feel it whenever with him. Nancy (Trapp '59) and I send our deepest sympathies to Ann and his family.

  • 2015-02-12 16:23:13
    Dennis McGraw '69

      I was so lucky to have been baby-sat by Whitey at two important times in my life.  When he was a student at Carleton, he baby sat for my folks when I was around 7 in Northfield.  I grew up watching him play basketball and baseball for Carleton.  He was one of my heroes.   When I was a teenager and living in the Chicago area, our lives intertwined again as he helped Wally Haas and my dad, Chet, coach at the U. of Chicago while he was in grad school.  Then when it was my turn to go to college, he baby sat me again.  First, he got me into Carleton, and then he assigned me two roommates, Tom Weaver and Eldon Spencer, who were not only great athletes, but more importantly, much better students than me.   I was forced to pay attention to the books through peer pressure, and it worked!   Later in life, I encountered he and Ann again as I worked at a piano restoration business that restored their player piano.  I got to tune their piano in their home (which was once the home of Wally and Jean Haas, my god parents) and reacquaint myself with Whitey and Ann again.   I have great memories of a wonderful, caring , compassionate man, spanning 60 years.

  • 2015-02-12 18:32:08
    Richard Erickson

    When I enrolled at Carleton and was adjusting to the pace of the academic life there I had moments when I felt I was in over my head. It took some time to realize that I had a place in the life of the college and Jon was one who had a warmth and kindness that really helped me feel at home. I recall him as a guy who was always there to build up others with support, encouragement and good natured humor. A wonderful man.

  • 2015-02-12 20:25:14
    ira Stiegler '78

    I am sad to hear of Jon Nicholson's passing. It awakens in me memories dulled by time. I remember clearly the sincere interest he took from my first impressions during admissions to the many passings along the school paths. Jon was a major contributor to the personality of the institution we call Carleton.

  • 2015-04-08 18:31:28
    Janean Laidlaw, '82

    The only reason I ever investigated a school little-known called "Carleton," in the late 1970s, was because the please-consider-us letter that I received had been hand-signed by the Director of Admissions. (No such animal in those days as an auto-pen--or at least I don't think so.) If not for the personal signature, I would have crumpled up and thrown out the letter, and would probably be a Dartmouth or Amherst grad today. (And where would my double-Carl offspring be?!???!??)

    So, my deepest thanks, and on behalf of my three children, many additional thanks, to that Admissions Director with the personal touch.  I may or may not be the only "prospie" for whom the "gen-yew-wine signature" gimmick worked, but it did work for me, and I still remember the name and even the spelling of the signed name, so important was the moment I read: "Jon Nicholson."