Irwin A. Nichols, 67, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and veteran of three wars who was a Methodist minister in Washington County, Md., from 1985 to 1990, died of chronic lung disease Jan. 4 at Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown.

Col. Nichols entered what was then the Army Air Forces in 1941 and was a fighter pilot in Europe during World War II. He also was a pilot in Korea during the war there. He flew reconnaissance flights in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968. His last assignment, before retiring from active duty in the early 1970s, was with the Air Force Systems Command at Andrews Air Force Base.

After receiving a theology degree at Wesley Theological Seminary here, he was ordained a minister in the United Methodist Church. From 1985 until retiring last July, he was minister in the church's Potomac Charge. In that post, he served as minister of Parkhead Church in Pectonville, Md., and both the Mount Carmel and St. Paul churches in Big Pool, Md.

Col. Nichols, who was a former Greenbelt resident who had lived in Big Pool since 1985, had lived in the Washington area for the past 20 years. He was a native of San Marcos, Tex., and a graduate of Southwest Texas State College, where he also received a master's degree in business administration.

He was a member of the American Legion post in Big Pool. He also belonged to the Ruritans.

His first wife, the former Alice Neel, died in 1988. Survivors include his wife, Carroll, of Big Pool; three children by his first marriage, John, of New Holland, Pa., Marguerite Knox of College Park, and Ella Merritt of Arlington; two sisters, Evelyn Osborn of Searcy, Ark., and Dot Skipper of San Antonio; five grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. MORE OBITUARIES ON PAGE B6