Grand Opening

Photo by Margaret Nea

Friends of Tangier approaching the island aboard the ferry “Chesapeake Breeze” from Reedville, Virginia on August 29, 2010 were startled to see the island’s tiny airstrip jammed with helicopters and light aircraft. State officials, including Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, and Virginia Commissioner of Health Karen Remley, along with dozens of guests, had been flown across the Chesapeake Bay by a host of volunteer pilots to attend the grand opening of the David B. Nichols Health Center, and to honor Dr. Nichols for his 31 years of loving medical service to the people of Tangier.

Crowds of islanders, supporters, medical practitioners, mainland patients and admirers of Dr. Nichols gathered at the steps of the new clinic and spread out along the island’s narrow streets, waving program fans to keep cool in the brilliant sunlight.

A headline in the Richmond Times-Dispatch the following day read “Smiles and sadness greet grand opening of Tangier Island clinic.” Everyone involved in making the health center a reality know well the source of that sadness. While Dr. Nichols did not live long enough to serve his patients from this high-tech clinic, all who knew him find comfort in knowing how fully he was present that day, enjoying every moment, touched by the honors bestowed upon him.

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