DAR names Bob Nash annual outstanding veteran volunteer

By Lynda Abegg
Special to The Courier

CENTRAL — Lover of bugs and biology, soldier, teacher, county councilman and builder of monuments.

What one man in South Carolina has all these characteristics in common? Robert Nash, Ph.D., professor emeritus of biology at Southern Wesleyan University, better known as Bob.

Nash was awarded the Outstanding Veteran Volunteer Award by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). The award is presented to a veteran in recognition of outstanding achievement in personal, professional and family life and for significant contributions of leadership and patriotism, as well as increased public awareness of veterans.

Nash, currently president of the Reserve Organization of America serving the Upstate, said receiving the award is “a great honor.”

Nash approached SWU president Todd Voss about the possibility of placing a military monument on the university campus in 2016. Located on Clayton Street in Central, the monument was completed in 2018.

The monument features six flagpoles representing each branch of the service, as well as a POW/MIA flag. The flags are flown on special holidays, and on other days, six U.S. flags are flown during the daytime and are lighted for nighttime viewing.

“The purpose of the monument is to unite the community by forming a bond, similar to the camaraderie you find in the military, so we do not forget the sacrifices so many men and women have made,” Nash sad.

Members of the community conduct special programs of remembrance for veterans at the site.

“If it were not for Nash, there would be no military monument,” SWU communications director Ed Welch said.

Fort Prince George DAR chapter regent Carolyn Nations nominated Nash for the award.

“Normally, Dr. Nash would have received this very prestigious award at a lavish banquet in Columbia during our state conference,” she said, “but because of COVID-19 restrictions, our conference was canceled and we had to mail it to him.”

Nash retired as command sergeant major of the 108th Training Command in Charlotte, N.C., in 1991 after 35 years of service in the U.S. Army Reserve and has served as a U.S. Army Reserve ambassador in South Carolina for six years.

Nash is descended from a long line of soldiers. Some of his ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. Other family members fought in the Civil War.

“They went to Tennessee and joined the Union Army,” he said.

His uncle was killed in France in World War I, and his dad served in the U.S. Army as part of occupational forces in Japan during World War II.

Nash was originally interested in studying math, because he felt that was his strength, but there was no major in math when he arrived at SWU, so he had to select a different major.

“English and history did not appeal to me, so I chose biology,” he said.

Nash is also proud of what the Pickens County Council accomplished during his 25-year tenure.

“Back then, Pickens County did not have emergency medical service,” he said. “Funeral homes operated ambulances, and there wasn’t any emergency service at all really, so the council created EMS stations.”

During his term, the county also set up rural fire districts and created libraries for Central/Clemson, Liberty, Pickens and Easley.

But that’s all par for the course, as helping people is in his nature, his wife of 30 years said.

“I am thrilled that Bob has won this award,” Harriet Nash said. “I don’t know anyone who loves the military and supports veterans more than he does.”

Because the SWU campus is closed for group meetings due to COVID-19, there was no memorial service at the monument this year, no military band playing taps. Rev. Gail Kerstetter did not direct the university singers in song. However, Nash was there. He put up the branch flags and wreath Saturday morning and took them down Monday evening.

The virus may stop the celebration, but it can’t stop patriotism.