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Emily Nicholson Designated Fund
By Jean Cohoon / April 6, 2015 /   Loading Disqus...
Well-known for her love of music and the theatre, Emily Nicholson also exemplified a true philanthropist. Six years before her death, she established an unrestricted fund at the Foundation and later made arrangements through her estate plan both to supplement the unrestricted fund and to create a new fund at the Foundation.

Emily died in 2003, and her charitable plans were realized through her trust at the end of 2013. This new fund will benefit the five Rhode Island organizations she named: United Way of Southeastern New England (now United Way of Rhode Island), Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, Providence Public Library, Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence, and Rhode Island Community Food Bank Association.

Born and raised in Providence, Emily was a graduate of Lincoln School and Smith College, the latter where she was a theatre arts major. It was while she was at Smith that she met her future husband, William Sayles Nicholson. Also a Providence native, he was an engineering student at Yale preparing to enter the family business, Nicholson File.

William worked for Nicholson File for 10 years, leaving when manufacturing ceased in the Providence plant. He spent the next 15 years partnering with a friend rebuilding pipe organs in Portsmouth through the Welte-Whelan Organ Company, then finished his career “building beautiful things, mostly furniture and wood products,” Emily told the Foundation in a 2000 interview. William died in 1993.

Emily was on the faculty of Wheeler School as a theatre teacher for 17 years, served on the boards of the Rhode Island Philharmonic, Looking Glass Theatre, and Ocean State Lyric Opera, and was a member of the music department and choir at Central Congregational Church. The couple also raised four children: William Sayles (Nick) Jr., Julia (Jill), Peter, and Nathaniel (Jake).

In the 2000 interview, Emily shared, “We’ve always been from Providence, on both sides of our family.” The Nicholsons maintained the family’s roots until the mid 1970s when they moved to Bristol, having previously summered there as well as Bear Island, Maine.
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