You may not know that lady on the left, but I’ve never known life without her. Carol and Cecil Nichol have been a Jake-and-Clay-caliber dream team—a roping and rodeo dynasty couple that loved this life, and lived it together with love and loyalty for over 65 years. Carol just headed to Heaven after a thankfully brief bout with cancer, as I can’t stand the thought of such a sweet soul suffering. My heart hurts for dear Cecil, and their extended Nichol-Davis-Gill-Staley family. The contestant families seating section at Salinas will never be the same without Carol Nichol leading their family charge.
Cecil and Carol Nichol have been some of my dad’s oldest, dearest friends. Cecil’s a few years older than my dad (Frank Santos), and Cecil just today told me that my dad dropped him off at Fort Ord—the now-closed Army base on Monterey Bay on the Pacific Coastline not far from Salinas—when he was drafted into the Army.
Their first daughter, Terri Davis, and I were born the same week, so our folks were young parents together. Cecil and Carol have called Cottonwood, California home all these years, and their family ties to the roping world are borderline countless.
Ropers in Carol and Cecil’s crew include…
Carol’s beloved Cecil, who’s roped all his life.
Carol and Cecil’s son, Bobby Nichol.
Carol and Cecil’s son-in-law Jeff Davis, who’s Terri’s husband and runs Four Star Rodeo Company with her.
Carol and Cecil’s son-in-law Allen Gill, who’s married to their daughter Tracy and was the 1981 National High School Rodeo Association and 1982 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association team roping titlist. Allen became a very dear friend of mine during our time at Cal Poly.
Carol and Cecil’s grandson Justin Davis, who’s Terri and Jeff’s son and is on track with high hopes to heel at his second Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this December.
Carol and Cecil’s grandson Brody Gill, who also rodeoed for Cal Poly.
Carol and Cecil’s grandson-in-law, Robert Staley, who’s married to Justin’s sister, Mandy.
Carol and Cecil’s great granddaughters, Jordyn and Jada, who are Robert and Mandy’s daughters. Cecil got to head a few for Jordyn—who placed at this year’s Broc Cresta Memorial Roping Pro-Am pulling pipes behind Nelson Wyatt—just last night.
Carol’s nephew, Cody Jones, ropes.
Cecil’s late brother, Jerry Nichol, roped.
Jerry’s son-in-law, Don Woolley, ropes.
NFR header Jake Stanley is married to Jeff and Terri’s niece, Ashlie Davis. Ashlie’s brother, Kyle Davis, also ropes.
Have I mentioned that Carol Nichol’s maiden name was Carpenter, and that forever roper Wendall Carpenter is her first cousin? So yes, that makes 1990 BFI champion header Rocky Carpenter, who headed for Allen Gill for those NHSRA and NIRA titles, and his roping sister, Tappy, Carol’s second cousins.
OK, I’ll leave it there. But you get the picture. This is a family full of team ropers, and Carol was the whole bunch’s #1 fan.
“Cecil and I went together a couple years before we got married, so I knew what I was getting into,” Carol recently told me with a grin on her face. “Cecil loves to rope, but the best part for both of us is the lifelong friends.”
They made so many of them, and spent 20-plus years wintering in Wittmann, Arizona. They plugged in at Bill and Pat Spratt’s place, and my dad was their longtime neighbor in my motorhome. Carol was a great cook, and ran a clean camp.
I got the giggles one day listening to my dad’s account of how he narrowly escaped death on the days he happened to ride the young horse he bought from Spratt past the Nichols’ trailer at the same time Carol fired up her vacuum cleaner.
Carol Nichol represented the best of women in our Western world. She loved her family fiercely, and agreed with Cecil that this was the best possible place to raise their family. Her legacy will live on, long and proud, because Carol spent her whole life building an unbreakable bond at their family’s center.
Thank you, Carol, for being a true and loyal friend to my family and so many lucky others. Your work here is done, and it mattered in the most special ways. Sending love to all who loved you.