The son of Joseph Nicholson and Dorothy Louise Kelly, he was born March 25, 1938, in Hyannis, Massachusetts, and graduated from Orleans (Massachusetts) High School. He was chairman emeritus of the classics department at Kent School, in Kent, Connecticut, where he taught for forty years.
He joined the Kent faculty in 1966. In addition to teaching all levels of classical Greek and Latin, he introduced classical civilization to the Kent curriculum. He became department chair in 1967 and secretary to the faculty in 2003.
A sports lover and ardent, lifelong fan of the Boston Celtics and Red Sox, he also coached soccer, basketball, and crew at Kent.
He retired in 2006. He was partial to fantasy and science fiction in his reading, collected German wines and vintage port, and loved ghost stories. He relished summers spent in his little cabin on a pond in Elliotsville Township, Maine, where, as he wrote in the Twenty-fifth Report, he would sit "sipping Irish and counting loons for the Audubon Society".
He leaves a sister, Geraldine O'Kelly, and a brother, Scott.