Pietermaritzburg’s well-known retired professor of religious studies and Anglican priest, Ron Nicolson, died in his sleep on Sunday.
Nicolson’s daughter, Monica Zwolsman, said on her Facebook page, “My darling dad died on Sunday morning and our family is heartbroken. I know everyone is fully aware of my adoration of him, and my terror that this day would ever come.”
She described Nicolson as a person who had always been her anchor.
“His wise council, gentle guidance, and never-ending patience with his boisterous brood has always been unquestioned. When he got ill, my life was thrown off kilter, but I somehow could never imagine my life without him at the heart of it.”
Nicholson was also known by The Witness readers as the singing sermon writer from the columns he wrote for the paper.
He went to Merchiston and Maritzburg College. Nicolson did an honours degree in English at the University of KwaZulu-Natal which was then known as the University of Natal.
He later decided to study theology at a theological college in England. He returned to South Africa when his studies were finished and was ordained.
As a young priest, he worked at the old St Saviour’s Cathedral in Pietermaritzburg. He also worked in Howick for five years, followed by a stint in Pinetown.
He worked on a master’s degree for three years, and then submitted his thesis which was accepted for a doctorate rather than a masters.
Nicholson was a teacher, professor of religious studies, an administrator and dean of human and management sciences on the local campus.
When he retired, he continued helping the university with report writing and edited the book Persons in Community, among others.
Condolences poured in from many people who knew Nicholson. They described him as a kind man.