On July 4, 1910, a day that America celebrates with songs and tributes
of struggle, freedom and liberty, a baby was born to Henry and Sally
Marshall Rivers in Cache, Illinois. His name was Nathaniel James Rivers,
the seventh of eight brothers and sisters. His was a close knit and
pioneering Illinois family. Two sisters survive him.
He attended Sumner High School in Cairo, Illinois, and Southern
Illinois University in Carbondale and St. Louis University.
On June 1, 1940, he entered into Holy Matrimony with Miss Audrey T.
McCoy. With family and friends, he and his beloved Audrey celebrated 50
years of love, joy, and happiness in 1990. Mr. Rivers’ one daughter, Louise
Rivers Nicholson, was from a previous marriage.
CHURCH LIFE SKETCH
A GODLY LIFE ENDED June 12, 1994 when Nathaniel “Nat” Rivers was taken
Nathaniel professed his faith and belief in the principles of Jesus
Christ in 1940 when he was baptized by Rev. Victor Hugo Wells at the Antioch
Baptist Church during a Community Revival in Lovejoy, Illinois. Following
that baptism he joined the First Corinthian Baptist, Lovejoy, Illinois, to
be with his wife, Audrey. Later in 1957 he joined the West Side Missionary
Baptist Church under the pastorate of Rev. Victor Hugo Wells.
At West Side, Nathaniel served faithfully and with distinction as
Chairman of the Trustee board for many years. He supported its varied
programs, projects and ministries. To these he generously gave his full
support. He will be remembered best for the many things that vividly
characterized his Christian Walk at a church he love. His quiet and
unassuming disposition, his love and loyalty to family and friends,
dedication and devotion to God and his church, his willingness to do his bit
for Christ as a faithful church member and trustee. He served his Lord well
and will be greatly missed.
Mr. Rivers led an active life in politics which spanned over 40 years.
He began as a School Trustee and Parole Officer in Illinois. Later, he
brought considerable leadership to the 26th Ward in St. Louis as
a hard-working campaign ward leader covering his career of Congressman from
Committeeman, family friend and childhood confidante, Alderman, and the U.S.
He served as Captain of the 26th Ward Precinct Captains and
Alderman from 1964 to 1967. He was a vigorous and well loved legislator in
the Missouri House of Representatives from 1968 to 1983. He chaired the
Legislative Black Caucus during the 79th General Assembly and was
a member of the Local Government and Related Matters Committee and Chairman
of the Interstate Cooperation Committee.
“Nat” will long be remembered for distinguished involvements in the
community helping people. A few of the organizations to which he gave
talent and time were the Union Sarah Economic Development Corporation (a
former Chairman), the Board of Managers of the Page Park YMCA, the West End
Community Conference, Masonic Lodge, Elks, and was former Board Member of
the old Annie Malone Children’s Home.
In recent years, after leaving the State of Missouri House of
Representatives, Mr. Rivers became the Senior Citizens Liaison staff person
in the office of Congressman Clay. In that capacity, he personally
delivered the Black weekly papers to shut-in seniors in the neighborhoods
and at senior facilities and he attended senior citizen activities in the 1st
Congressional district. For over 11 years, “Nat” Rivers demonstrated a
genuine love for senior citizens and cared deeply about such legislative
issues of health, finance, housing and income affecting them as the Silver
Haired Legislator from the Congressman’s Office. He has been the recipient
of the St. Louis Citizens Award in Community Service and the Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. Award in 1979 and the Harris-Stowe College Award for Higher
Education and Human Development in 1978.
Mr. Rivers was a businessman, civil and political rights activist, a
distinguished legislator, a loyal churchman, and devoted husband, father and
He, along with his beloved wife, Audrey, was a world traveler. Their
travels included China, Africa, the State of Alaska, and extensive travels
throughout the Continental United States.
Nathaniel J. “Nat” Rivers departed this life on Sunday night, June 12,
1994, after a brief illness.
He leaves a bouquet of family and friends who cherished and loved him.
His beloved wife, Audrey McCoy Rivers; daughter, Louise Rivers Nicholson,
son-in-law, John F. Nicholson; loving grandchildren, John F. Nicholson II,
Donna Marie Nicholson Jones, Stephen D. Nicholson, great grandchildren, John
Nicholson IV, Jacinda Ann Nicholson, Cameron Duane Nicholson, Tiffancy and
Terese Jones (twins), Alisha Diane Nicholson, Christine Renee Nicholson,
Kelly Marie Nicholson, and two sisters, Ora Lee Rivers of Mascoutah,
Illinois and Theola Fitts of St. Louis, many nieces, nephews, and a host of
friends, co-workers, and political colleagues.
WE SHALL ALL MISS YOU.