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In Memoriam: Trula Nicholas

Trula Morehead Nicholas, an associate professor in Woodring’s Human Services Program, passed away peacefully at her home in Bellingham on Sunday, Nov. 8.

Born in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Trula grew up in a series of cities across the country, ending with Seattle, as her father moved from job to job in his career as a YMCA administrator. She received a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in psychology from Western Washington University and held many different jobs in the human services field before joining the Human Services Program in 1993.

She had a passionate and undying commitment to the pursuit of social justice and to the building of community through collaboration with others. She also loved cooking, interacting with animals, and listening to the rain. She is survived by Tom, her husband of 40 years; her daughter, Amelia; and four siblings.

Western's Provost, Brent Carbajal, sent a message to the campus community last week after learning of Nicholas' passing. In part, it read:

"As many of you may have heard by now, the Western community on Sunday night lost one of its guiding lights when we learned of the untimely passing of Trula Nicholas, associate professor in Woodring College's Human Services program, due to complications from a stroke.

Trula touched thousands of lives through her tireless advocacy and leadership on issues of dignity and equity throughout our region for decades. The 2016 co-recipient of Western’s Diversity Achievement Award, Trula’s research interests were representative of her personal beliefs -- that the university could and should be the bedrock organization for partnerships with local nonprofits on issues surrounding wellness, family health and stability, and most recently, homelessness. 

Trula's students and colleagues and the greater Whatcom County community will dearly miss the impact she had in creating positive community change.  But most of all, we will miss her warmth, her smile, her compassion, her incredible dedication to her students, and her fervent desire to make Western better. Better for all of us, but especially for our most marginalized communities."

People wishing to honor her memory are encouraged to do so by donating to human service organizations that they feel are in line with Trula’s values. Here is a list of nine such organizations: 

Animals as Natural Therapy 

Lydia Place 

Max Higbee Center 

Mt Baker Planned Parenthood 

Opportunity Council 

Real Change 

Whatcom Hospice: 

Northwest Youth Services: Queer Youth Project:  

Whatcom PFLAG:  



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Tuesday, November 17, 2020 - 9:19am