Gerald Q. Nash

A great member of the Greatest Generation

August 1, 2014
Courtesy Photo  Gerald Q. Nash

Courtesy Photo Gerald Q. Nash

by Laurie Jasper

In his book “The Greatest Generation,” Tom Brokaw told the stories of men and women who lived during the Great Depression, who answered the call to defend the United States and our Allies during World War II, and, for those who returned home, who continued to sacrifice and build a better life for their families. As Tom Brokaw wrote, “They stayed true to their values of personal responsibility, duty, honor, and faith.”

Gerald Q. “Jerry” Nash was a great member of the Greatest Generation.

A prominent member of the Hudson area community, Jerry Nash died peacefully at the Community Hospice House in Merrimack on Friday, July 25, 2014. Jerry was born in Nashua on October 6, 1923, the fifth of six children of Ralph Waldo Emerson Nash and Lillian Rachel (Class) Nash. He attended Nashua High School, but went to live with his sister, Marie, in Michigan and graduated from Detroit North High School in 1943. After graduation, he enlisted in the Army on September 2, 1943. All five Nash sons served the United States in World War II. The youngest, Jerry’s brother Roger, was killed in action in 1945.

Jerry Nash trained at Camp Hale in Colorado as a member of the 10th Mountain Division. This elite organization was started on the urging of Charles Minot Dole, who was then president of the National Ski Patrol. Jerry Nash was an avid outdoorsman and grew up skiing and hiking in New Hampshire, skills which certainly helped him during the intense years of training in Colorado’s high altitude.

Books have been written, movies have been made and much can be found on the internet regarding the famous 10th Mountain Division, yet it is still difficult to comprehend the harsh conditions the men faced in combat. They began their assault against the Germans in the North Apennine Mountains of Italy in January 1945 and on February 18, the 10th Mountain Division captured Riva Ridge and then Mount Belvedere, to the shock of the German soldiers. In April 1945, the 10th Mountain Division, along with other units, captured the Po River Valley, which was crucial to the Allied victory, and Germany surrendered on May 2, 1945. Over 992 United States Ski Troopers lost their lives and 4,000 were wounded, which was the highest casualty rate of any U.S. Mediterranean Division (www.visitleadvilleco.com).

Upon returning home from World War II, Jerry graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in business and then went to work for his father, who owned Nashua Paper Box Company. His father had served as chairman of the Nashua Community Chest and served as treasurer of Goodwill Industries. His mother was president of Goodwill Industries for over 25 years. After his father’s death in 1955, Jerry and his brother Ralph purchased Nashua Paper Box Company from their mother.

Jerry married Lucille LaFontaine on May 26, 1950, and together they raised six children on their Trigate Farm property in Hudson, where he lived for 62 years. In the 1950s, 1960s and beyond, he served on many non-profit and for-profit boards, carrying on the example set by his parents to give back to the community. Jerry was president of the Fresh Air Camp, a position his father had also held, on the Selective Service Board, president of the Arts and Science Center, a member of the American Cancer Society Board of Directors, and active in the Nashua Chamber of Commerce, among other affiliations. He was also a member of the Nashua Rotary Club for 52 years.

By chance, he met Sam Tamposi at a card game in Boston, Massachusetts, which began one of the most successful real estate development partnerships in New Hampshire. He sold his portion of Nashua Paper Box Company to his brother to concentrate on real estate.

Jerry Nash and Sam Tamposi shaped development in southern New Hampshire and greatly contributed to New Hampshire’s economic growth. Their business philosophy was “build the buildings and they will come,” long before the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams, made a similar quote popular. They purchased land suitable for big businesses to expand upon and then built quality structures to entice the businesses to the area.

“Jerry was a close personal friend and business associate of my Dad, Sam Tamposi, Sr., and he really enjoyed the challenge and art of many real estate transactions,” said Sam Tamposi, Jr. “Jerry was a man of impeccable honor and integrity. He was an astute businessman, and his word was his bond. He consummated most business deals the old-fashioned way, with a handshake! He was also a selfless teacher and I was fortunate enough to learn from him,” recalled Sam Tamposi, Jr., whose father passed away in 1995.

Jerry Nash was key to attracting large corporations such as Digital Equipment, Anheuser Busch, Fidelity Investments and Raytheon to the area, as well as to developing eight industrial parks throughout New Hampshire. Jerry was the founder and owner of WNDS TV Channel 50 in Derry and one of the original people involved in the incorporation of the 1590 Broadcasting Corporation and radio station WSMN in Nashua, where he served as president for many years. Jerry was also the founder and former owner of Greenbriar Terrace Nursing Home. Hudson resident Anne Shaver was Jerry Nash’s secretary from 1972 until her retirement in 1989.

“He was a man of all ages,” said Anne. “He believed in a firmness of purpose. His accomplishments were many; he had great discipline and was a man of great determination. He was a very bright man, with great strength of mind, very much into details, and a great teacher,” Anne said. Anne recalled how proud he was of his family, and said, “I enjoyed working for him, he had a lovely marriage, a lovely family and it was one of the greatest experiences of my working life.”

The Nash and Tamposi partnership also developed the Villages of Citrus Hills in Hernando, Florida, a community approximately 75 miles north of Tampa. Once again, they brought jobs and economic growth to an area in need. Citrus Hills has grown in stages and different areas include an equestrian area, four golf courses, a 400-seat theater, several restaurants and a world class health spa. In the 1980s, Sam Tamposi was a part owner of the Boston Red Sox and became friends with one of the greatest baseball players of all time – Ted Williams. Besides baseball, Ted’s other sport of choice was fishing, which he took very seriously. He was impressed with Citrus Hills and built two homes there, and even agreed to be the celebrity spokesperson for the community. Some may recall the Citrus Hills television commercials featuring Ted Williams. Jerry Nash was a co-founder of the Ted Williams Museum in Florida.

Jerry Nash always had a strong work ethic, and continued to go to his office every day until May of this year, when he suffered a fall at his home. “He was a kind and generous man,” recalled Sandra Martinson, his secretary who worked for him for almost 27 years. “He was very intelligent and very good at making decisions.”

Jerry also found time to relax and enjoy life. As one might guess, he was an avid skier and also enjoyed playing tennis. Jerry was a stained glass artist and was very interested in genealogy. According to Sandra, he loved researching his family history. “He had one more thing he needed to do, he told me, and that was to finish his family history,” shared Sandra. “He pretty much finished what he wanted to, as well as his wife Lucille’s family history, and his grandson Jeff was helping him put the books together.

“He was very proud of his family. He loved to travel and he was able to travel to different places to research his ancestry. He published the History of Lebanon, Maine; he had family who came from Lebanon. In fact, he helped to restore headstones in the cemetery there.”

Sandra also said that Jerry traveled to Germany and saw the place where his mother was born, and he also visited The Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Denver, Colorado Public Library archives include photocopies of correspondence from Jerry to his parents in 1945 as well as a 2003 oral history video Jerry recorded during an Italian reunion tour, as part of their 10th Mountain Division Resource Center.

Jerry’s interest in history and genealogy led him to undertake a huge project.

In 1997, The Vital Records of Hudson, New Hampshire, 1734-1985 by Gerald Q Nash, Sandra Martinson and Roland Marchand was published by Heritage Books, listing births, marriages and deaths for that time period in one large volume. The Vital Birth Records of Nashua, New Hampshire from 1887-1935 by Gerald Q. Nash was also published. In 1994, he assisted the American-Canadian Genealogical Society in Manchester in a fundraising campaign to purchase the former Blessed Sacrament Elementary School.

Jerry loved to travel all over the world. He made many trips to Europe with the 10th Mountain Division on their Italian reunion tours, often accompanied by family and friends. He served as chairman on the National Association of the 10th Mountain Division for both the 1975 and 1980 national reunions.

For his book, Nashua Area Men and Women in World War II, Ron Dube interviewed Jerry Nash, who shared that he and other members of the 10th Mountain Division formed the Federation of Mountain Soldiers during a reunion in 1980 at Lake Placid, New York, and some German and Italian soldiers attended. Ron Dube’s book also includes a humorous anecdote about one of Jerry’s return trips to Italy. While visiting a village, he was invited into a house and spotted an American soldier’s canteen cup, still with the soldier’s name on it. He asked the homeowner for the cup, which he received. Jerry brought it home, located the owner of the cup, and returned it to him along with a bill for misplacing government property.

“The last 10th Mountain Division trip to Italy was in 2012, and my father did go on that trip,” said his daughter, Priscilla Clegg. “There were 13 original 10th Mountain Division members on that trip, and nine who were currently serving in the 10th Mountain Division,” Priscilla said. Also on that trip were nearly 150 descendants of 10th Mountain Division Soldiers of World War II. Jerry Nash was a member of the National Association of the 10th Mountain Division. There is also a 10th Mountain Division Descendants Association. The original 10th Mountain Division was deactivated in 1945 but reactivated in 1985 during Desert Storm and has been active ever since.

Jerry and Lucille Nash’s children all work for the Nash Group, and the grandchildren are following into the business as well. Jerry Nash taught them the value of hard work, discipline and integrity. The Nash family has always been civic minded, and has been extremely generous to many local and national charitable causes throughout the years. Local causes that they have long supported include Hudson Old Home Days events, the Hudson Historical Society and the yearly Santa visits to Library Park.

“All of us would agree that our father passed away the way he lived. He made the decision to enter the Community Hospice House on Thursday, and he died the next day. When he decided to do something, he did it, and that’s what he did,” said his children.

“He certainly left an indelible imprint in New Hampshire, bringing many companies and jobs to New Hampshire. He left a lasting legacy for his family, friends and associates,” said Sam Tamposi, Jr.

Members of his family include his wife of 64 years, Lucille P. (LaFontaine) Nash; six children, Quentin Peter Nash, Debra Anne Nash and her husband Matthew Bosowski, Mark Alan Nash and his wife Paula Nash, Priscilla Lu Clegg and her husband Robert Clegg, Jr., Rebecca Jean Mitchell and her husband Scott Mitchell, and the late Jeffrey Lloyd Nash; five grandchildren, Jessica Lee Clegg, Jeffrey Lloyd Clegg, Benjamin Matthew Bosowski, Jacob Jeffrey Mitchell and Ethan Lloyd Mitchell; and one great-grandchild, Troy Stewart Mitchell. Jerry was also predeceased by his brothers, Ralph, Lawrence, Roger and Jason Nash; and his sister Marie Atkins.

A Celebration of his life will be held on Sunday, August 3, at the Radisson on Tara Boulevard in Nashua, from 2 to 6 p.m. The family asks that you join them as they celebrate the man that Jerry Nash was.

Donations may be made to the Rotary Club of Nashua, P.O. Box 401, Nashua, NH 03061; Home Health & Hospice Care, Community Hospice House, Attn: Development, 7 Executive Park Drive, Merrimack, NH 03054 or to Tenth Mountain Division Foundation, Inc., 133 South Van Gordon Street, Suite 200, Lakewood, CA 80228.

The Farwell Funeral Service, 18 Lock Street, Nashua is assisting the family with arrangements.