Joseph Kelly Nicholes

Education

Joseph Kelly Nicholes (1887-1964)

was born in American Fork, Utah. He graduated from Brigham Young Academy in 1908 and served an LDS mission to Denmark from 1909-12. As mission secretary, he had complete charge of the Church’s Scandinavian emigration to the United States. Joseph taught at Dixie High School from 1912-14. He attended classes each summer at Brigham Young University and studied there full-time from 1915-16, to complete his Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics.

He became president of Dixie Junior College in 1919, and continued to teach science and mathematics. In the summer of 1923, he went to Stanford University where he received his Master’s Degree in Chemistry in 1924. He returned to Dixie and again became president of the college in 1926. He loved St. George and served the community as director of the St. George Chamber of Commerce and president of the St. George Building Society. He was also president of the St. George Stake of Zion form 1925-30.

When the LDS Church was unable to continue its support of Dixie College, Joseph spent many hours working for the transfer of the college to the state. After moving to BYU, he retained his interest in and affection for Dixie. Joseph taught chemistry at BYU from 1933-60, and was chairman of the Chemistry Department from 1945-55. During his tenure, it developed into one of the strongest departments at BYU. He inspired many students toward graduate studies in science and medicine.

His honors include the Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Teaching Award, the Utah Award from the American Chemical Society, and in 1961, BYU presented him with D.Sc. honoris causa. Joseph also taught LDS church history at BYU for many years and served as a member of the LDS Sunday School General Board from 1938-46. He married Olive Maiben in 1912, and they are the parents of nine children.