David Ray Nichelson, also known as “Sarge” entered into eternal rest on September 11, 2023.
He was preceded in death by his loving wife Gracie Nichelson. David is survived by three sons; Rodney (Turlock), Todd (Turlock) and Don Nichelson(Ripon), five grandchildren; Branden, Bryan, Wyatt, Blake and Danielle and three great-grandchildren.
Dave grew up in Escalon where he met Gracie and the two were later married. Dave enlisted in the Army, in fact lied about his age to enlist early and spent his 20 year career at multiple locations including Fort Ord (CA), Fort Hood (TX), Fort Carson (CO), Fort Knox (KY) among others as well as overseas in Germany. Dave was a decorated soldier with the 11th Armored Cavalry Blackhorse Regiment and served in Vietnam where he was awarded two Bronze stars with valor (V-Device), Purple Heart, Vietnam Gallantry Cross, Presidential Unit Citation, National Defense Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal among others. Dave spent a lot of his career as a Drill Sergeant/Instructor where he earned the nickname “Sarge” in his civilian life. After honorably serving his country, Dave and Gracie settled in Turlock where they spent the rest of their days raising their three sons. Dave worked a few jobs after retiring from the Army including the State of California as an instructor for military pathways and finally Stanislaus County juvenile hall/probation department from 1990-2004. He was instrumental in turning around troubled youth in detention and used his military background to make a difference. Upon retiring from his second career, Dave became very interested in team roping and had several years of enjoying his time taking care of his horses and enjoying his friendships that he developed.
Dave was an avid sports fan who loved his 49ers. He enjoyed more than anything watching his grandkids play sports but mostly football. He attended every game he was physically able to from youth to high school. He was extremely proud of his grand kids and talked about them all the time. Dave will be missed deeply by those who knew and loved him. Funeral will be held at Lakewood Memorial Home, on Friday, September 29 @ 11a.m. Burial will follow including military honors presentation.