Andy Nichols

Peru Peace Corps Medical Director Andy Nichols dies at 64

The Arizona Republic April 20, 2001 12:00:00

State Sen. Andy Nichols, a low-key, respected Tucson lawmaker best known as a crusader for public health programs, died Thursday after collapsing at his desk. He was 64.

Colleagues attending a legislative softball game Thursday evening were devastated by the news.

"His life was about making sure people got the health care they needed," said Sen. Ruth Solomon, D-Tucson, who had dinner with Nichols on Tuesday. "He lived it and he breathed it."

Nichols was the primary advocate of Proposition 204, a ballot measure approved by voters last year that calls for Arizona to boost health-care coverage for the working poor by using millions of dollars in tobacco settlement money.

"The best legacy you can have is thousands of uninsured people will have medical coverage," said Sen. Ed Cirillo, R-Sun City West.

Nichols also promoted child safety legislation, including bills to prohibit children from riding unrestrained in the beds of pickup trucks, and championed legislation that lowers blood-alcohol limits for driving under the influence of intoxicants.

Nichols, a University of Arizona faculty member and administrator, had just finished a telephone conversation in his third-floor office in the Senate building when he put his head down on his desk and collapsed on the floor about 6 p.m., a witness said.

He was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Gov. Jane Hull ordered flags be lowered today.

Spokeswoman Francie Noyes said Hull's office has worked closely with Nichols on a number of issues and though they were often on opposite sides, Nichols' dedication to his issues was unquestionable.  "His commitment to his causes was just really impressive," Noyes said.

Nichols was a physician in family and community medicine. He had been director of the University of Arizona Rural Health Office since 1970 and served as Medical Director for the Peace Corps in Peru. He also was active in U.S.-Mexican border health organizations.

"Andy was one of our most illustrious members of the faculty," said Dr. Monte DuVal, who worked with Nichols at the UA and was a friend for more than 30 years. "As a citizen there are few who were his equal, irrespective of whether you agreed with his politics."

Nichols was elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1993 and served through 2000. This was his first year in the Senate, where he was a member of the Appropriations Committee and vice chairman of the Health and Banking and Insurance committees.

Under state law, the Pima County Board of Supervisors will appoint a Democrat to replace him within 10 days.

Surviving Nichols are his wife, Ann, and three children, Cathy, Michael and Miles.

Teacher and Rural Health advocate

His legislative respects

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