Bobby Nicholas was singing the night he met the woman he would marry.
It was at the Old Mill Club on Chestnut Ridge Road. The popular Morgantown entertainer had just finished his set when a mutual friend pointed to one of the tables.
“Her. That’s who you need to meet.”
The nightspot is no longer there, but Nicholas can go back anytime he likes.
All he has to do is close his eyes.
“Oh, man,” he said. “I was taken, you know? Her smile, her laugh, her enthusiasm. Just everything about her.”
They talked, and he called the next day. And the next day after that.
“We went on our first date that weekend. Kennywood Park. Can’t go wrong with Kennywood.”
He couldn’t go wrong with marriage, either, he said. There were no emotional rollercoasters. They had 43 years together.
Doris Marilyn Nicholas died this past January after a lengthy illness that never once dimmed the music in her heart and soul, her husband said.
While he continued performing in venues across West Virginia and the world, she was just as steadfast in her career.
It was a career, like her husband’s that also carried a global trajectory.
She grew up in Bermuda, attended boarding school in Canada and came to WVU to study social work, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in that discipline.
A doctorate in education, also from the school in Morgantown, would follow.
This week, all of her loves – music, family and work in her chosen field – will vector in on the stage of the Metropolitan Theatre downtown.
Nicholas and his son, Trevor, who has gained international renown on Broadway and London’s West End, will make a first-ever appearance together at the iconic venue on High Street.
“Generations 2021,” will be 8 p.m. Friday at the Met. Visit www.generationsconcert.com for all the details.
The evening is a fundraiser for an endowed scholarship Nicholas is establishing in his wife’s name for minority students in WVU’s School of Social Work.
A live auction will also be held, featuring trips to Disney World and London as prizes.
“Yeah,” Nicholas said. “I’m connected.”
Trevor, who starred in musical productions in Morgantown as a kid, played the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway and in London.
He’s also taken a turn as George Washington in West End productions of Hamilton and lives in London with his family.
He’ll soon be back home headlining with a dad he still idolizes.
“He’s due in Thursday,” Bobby Nicholas said. “That’s provided that travel restrictions don’t kick with COVID.”
Meanwhile, the father and son are kicking it via Skype and other social media outlets for rehearsals.
Do they even need to rehearse?
“We definitely need to rehearse,” Nicholas said. “And believe or not, this will be the first time we’ve ever actually shared a stage together.”
Some 20 songs are on the set list that includes a live band and backup singers. Motown. The Great American Songbook.
Several of the tunes Trevor has sung on Broadway and the West End.
Doris’ favorites, too, her husband said. She liked the “Lady” duet by Lionel Richie and Kenny Rogers.
And she really enjoyed the Sinatra-styled crooning of Michael Buble.
“We’re gonna make her proud,” he said. “It will be a little surrealistic, because of the reason we’re doing it. She won’t be there.”
Then, he caught himself. Check that, he said. She’s everywhere.
Song of love
That was evident earlier this summer as Nicholas moved out of the house where he and Doris raised Trevor and their other kids.
Every piece of furniture, he said. She loved antiques.
Every piece of Asian-themed art (her favorite style). They traveled a lot. Wherever they went, something came back with them.
Wherever she went, her husband said, she left a reminder of her heart.
For a time, she directed social services at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, where she helped develop the hospital’s medical ethics committee.
She made several professional trips to her native Bermuda, becoming a mentor to every student she met.
“Hey, she was tough,” he husband said. “She was loving and nurturing, but she was tough.”
Tough, like a blues song or three-chord rocker that won’t give up, he said.
“Her passion was bringing opportunity and equality to anyone and everyone who has been left behind,” he said.
“She never stopped fighting for the little guy.”