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Jim Nicholson
5th United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs
In office
January 26, 2005 – October 1, 2007
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Anthony J. Principi
Succeeded by James Peake
Personal details
Born February 4, 1938 (1938-02-04) (age 84)
Struble, Iowa
Political party Republican
Alma mater United States Military Academy, Columbia University
Profession attorney
Awards Bronze Star
Combat Infantryman Badge
Meritorious Service Medal
Vietnam Gallantry Cross
Air Medal (2)
Military service
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service 1961-1991
Rank Colonel
Battles/wars Vietnam War

Robert James "Jim" Nicholson (born February 4, 1938) is an attorney, real estate developer, and a former Republican Party chairman. He was the United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs from January 26, 2005 until October 1, 2007.

Political career

Nicholson has never held elected office, but has long been active in the Republican Party. In January 1986, he was elected committeeman from Colorado for the Republican National Committee (RNC). In 1993, he was elected Vice-Chairman of the RNC, and was the "surprise pick" for GOP national chairman in January 1997. He served in that position through the 2000 presidential election.

Between 2001 and his appointment to the position of Secretary of Veterans Affairs, he served as United States Ambassador to the Holy See (the Vatican).

Business career

Before becoming active in civilian government service, he worked as a lawyer in Denver, Colorado, specializing in real estate, municipal finance and zoning law. In 1978 he founded Nicholson Enterprises, Inc., a developer of planned residential communities, and in 1987 he bought Renaissance Homes, a custom-house builder. He now works in the Washington, D.C. office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber & Schreck LLP.

Military service

He is a 1961 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York and served eight years in active duty. He was a paratrooper and Ranger-qualified Army officer. He fought in the Vietnam War, where he earned the Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry and two Air Medals.

After thirty years of working in the Army, he retired in 1991 with the rank of Colonel.

Personal life

Nicholson was born on a farm near Struble, Iowa. Nicholson has described his childhood as "growing up dirt poor in a tenant house without plumbing and sometimes without food". His brother is Vietnam War general John W. Nicholson.

Nicholson has a Master's degree in Public Policy from Columbia University. He received a law degree from the University of Denver in 1972. In May 2005, he was given the Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Military Academy Award.

Nicholson is married to the former Suzanne Marie Ferrell of Highland Falls, New York, who is an artist. They are the parents of three adult children.

Party political offices

Preceded by
Haley Barbour
Chairman of the Republican National Committee
Succeeded by
Jim Gilmore
Preceded by
Corinne Claiborne Boggs
U. S. Ambassador to the Holy See
Succeeded by
Francis Rooney
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