East Texas veteran remembered through his Tyler artwork

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Updated: Nov. 22, 2020 at 7:02 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas veteran is now being remembered as cars pass by his artwork on Tyler’s streets.

East Texas News spoke with the family, friends, and colleagues as they remember the late Joel Nichols.

“He was known in Tyler as the ‘dot man,’” Wife, Char Nichols said.

Painting was Joel Nichols’ passion. He was a husband, father, a Navy veteran who served from 1965 to 1969, and much more. However, this past Veterans Day, Joel died due to complications from COVID-19. However, his legacy lives on throughout Tyler.

“It makes me really proud of him. He always wanted to have his stuff out there to be able to bless people and to be able to just be a great artist - that was his goal,” Char said. “When we moved to Tyler, he started spending more time on his art.”

Nichols has murals drawn on three Tyler electrical boxes throughout the city. Tyler Main Street Director Amber Varona said he was very active in the Tyler art scene.

“It’s always sad to hear of a passing, especially one of our close artists, but the beauty of what his talent was, was his artwork. That will be able to get passed down to his family. It continues to be shared with the community, and we’re forever grateful for that.”

In 2005, he began attending church at New Life Worship Church in South Tyler. Pastor and friend Jim Pendley said Joel Nichols was a big part of the congregation.

“Joel would be one of the first people that you would meet when you visited New Life if you weren’t a normal member,” Pendley said. “You could say he was kind of the face of New Life for new people. Joel was a friend to me, a confidant to me, and a great example of what a godly man is.”

Char shared her last moments with Joel while he was on his ventilator.

“I got to speak to him. He didn’t get to talk back to me before he passed, and first of all, I told him how much I loved him,” Char said. “Then I said, ‘Jesus will be standing at heaven’s gates with his arms open wide saying, ‘Welcome home son, thy good and faithful servant. I said, ‘So, go in peace; I love you.”

Varona said there will be a memorial exhibit next year displaying Joel’s artwork in his honor.

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