Bill Nichols shocked by John Germ Award

Tom KingFarragut, Our Town Leaders

It’s hard to blindside Bill Nichols, but he was shocked last Saturday when presented with the prestigious John Germ Humanitarian Award by immediate past Rotary District 6780 Gov. Greg Maciolek. The Crowne Plaza crowd at the district awards ceremony gave Nichols a standing ovation.

Bill Nichols

Nichols usually has a glint in his eyes. As he held the award, tears replaced the glint. When he tried to speak, he struggled, choking up. This affable chap loves life, his “kids” and the Rotary Club of Farragut. His kids are the Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) students who go overseas for a year of study. He has been working with exchange students and their families for 12 years. His title is chair of the district’s Outbound RYE Students Program.

From July 2019 to May 2020 Nichols worked an estimated 1,574 hours on youth exchange, around 40 hours a week. Some weeks he worked 60 hours. When COVID-19 hit here and around the world, Nichols spent many of those hours getting the eight Rotary exchange students overseas home from Taiwan, Italy, Brazil (two students there), Germany, Chile, Japan and India. He was on the phone with host families, the various airlines, travel agencies and the students’ families here. It was non-stop. Humanitarian service indeed.

The award is named for a well-known worldwide figure in Rotary, John Germ of Chattanooga, who was president of Rotary International in 2014-15 and remains a major force in the organization.

“It has not sunk in yet,” Nichols said. “It surprised me beyond belief. For it to be the John Germ award – what esteem I have for John and for what he’s done around the world and here in the U.S. for Rotary. This is special.”

To read more about Nichols and the awards the club received, please click here.

If you’re interested in exploring membership in the Rotary Club of Farragut, email or call 865-659-3562. Tom King has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and has been the editor of two newspapers.

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