Lillian R. Nichols

[ Age 94 ] Co-owner of Pikesville restaurant

October 10, 2007

Lillian R. Nichols, former co-owner of a Pikesville restaurant that had been popular with entertainers performing at the old Painters Mill Music Fair, died of pneumonia Sunday at Northwest Hospital Center. The Reisterstown resident was 94.

Lillian Roby was born in Baltimore and raised in South Baltimore. She graduated from Eastern High School in 1931 and, five years later, married James A. Nichols.

A gifted soprano, she sang with her church choir as a young woman.

"She was noticed by Lily Pons' singing coach, and was offered a singing career but turned it down because she had already met the love of her life and didn't want to leave her Jamie," said a daughter, Dale N. Bernarding of Reisterstown.

She owned a small beauty shop before she and her husband opened the Woodholme Manor Tea Room on Reisterstown Road at Woodholme Avenue in Pikesville.

"It was known for its crab and lobster imperial, as well as for its desserts, pies, cakes and especially its rum buns," Mrs. Bernarding said.

The couple decorated their restaurant with framed, signed photos of the stars who played at the nearby Owings Mills summer theater. Many of them became friends.

"Howard Keel and Red Buttons came in the back door. Liberace came all the time, as did Don Ameche," Mrs. Bernarding said.

The couple lived above the restaurant until they closed it in 1975. Mr. Nichols died in 1987.

Mrs. Nichols had been an active member of the Women's Club of Pikesville. She enjoyed crossword puzzles, duckpin bowling and reading.

"She used to read a book a day," her daughter said.

She had been a member of the old Ames United Methodist Church in Pikesville, and attended Reisterstown United Methodist Church for the past 30 years.

Services for Mrs. Nichols will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Eline Funeral Home, 11824 Reisterstown Road, Reisterstown.

Also surviving are another daughter, April N. Summers of Reisterstown; a sister, Vera Roby of Baltimore; a granddaughter; and a great-grandson.

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