Alvin Nashman, a longtime supporter of GW, died earlier this month from cardiac arrest. He was 92.
Nashman’s work in federal information technology as a government contracting executive, which led to his 2009 induction into the Greater Washington Government Contractor Hall of Fame, is still used and recognized by companies worldwide. Friends and family said Nashman was passionate about his family and about treating others respectfully and that he made several intellectual contributions to his industry.
His 80th birthday gift to his wife Honey Nashman, a former professor of sociology and human services, was a 2015 donation renaming the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service. A supporter of GW for several decades, he received an honorary doctoral degree from GW in 1986 and served on the board for the Virginia Science and Technology Campus, according to a University release.
All three of the Nashmans’ daughters were born at the GW Hospital and attended the University, and three of their four grandchildren also attended GW, according to the release.
Honey Nashman said her husband loved his family and was deeply compassionate.
“When I think of Al, I just think of – first, just brilliance and someone who was just so kind, who loves family, who was constantly self-developing,” she said.
Honey, who taught at GW for 43 years and served as the director of the Human Services and Social Justice Program, said she “wouldn’t even know where to begin” when describing some of her favorite memories with Alvin. During their six-decade-long relationship, she said he would leave notes and poems for her around the house.
She recalled traveling with her husband – some of his favorite destinations were London and New York City because of their vibrant theater scenes. She said he was easy to speak to, recalling their talks about family and current events while taking walks or in the car.
“What we enjoyed most was talking about times that we had spent together previously that were memorable and warm and wonderful and about the family all of the time,” she said.
Honey said she hopes people remember Alvin with “deep love and respect for his intelligence and kindness.” She said he was a “true and good friend” who loved his family and mentored many others.
Alvin received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the City College of New York – the only school his family could afford because it was free, Honey explained – and graduated at the top of his class. He went on to lead the information technology company Computer Science Corporation’s systems group for 27 years and was a founding director of James Monroe Bank, which was later purchased by PNC Financial Services.
“Really, he’s a very rare individual,” Honey said.
She said her family has requested that benefactors direct their donations in memory of Alvin to the Nashman Center to honor his interest in community development, social justice and human rights.
Nashman Center Executive Director Amy Cohen said Alvin was always “engaged and enthusiastic” about ensuring all people were treated respectfully.
“He’d been very successful in business, very successful in science and in business,” she said. “But he was well remembered for really getting along with other people, for really supporting staff and working strongly with people.”
Cohen said the Nashman family’s support has allowed the center, which provides students with volunteer opportunities, to expand its work with faculty and D.C. Public Schools. She said the Nashmans have stayed involved with the center, providing advice and support.
“We really appreciate that the Nashmans put their confidence in us and wanted to continue the work by making donations in Mr. Nashman’s name,” she said. “We will use those to continue to support excellence in student community service.”
Gregory Squires, a professor of sociology and public policy and public administration, said Alvin Nashman was an “extremely friendly, cordial, humorous person.”
“It was always very enjoyable to have a chance to talk to Al,” Squires said. “I think other people who are at these events felt the same way. He seemed to feel right at home when he was with people in the department and people felt quite at home with him.”
Juna Kollmeier, a theoretical astrophysicist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, said she met Alvin when she was trying to garner support for a theoretical astrophysics program at the Carnegie Observatories in California in 2013. She recalled having lunch with Alvin, who was moved to tears by what the astrophysicists had accomplished and were hoping to research next.
Alvin, who Honey Nashman said was so fascinated by astronomy that he would read physics books in his free time, later established the Carnegie Observatories’ Alvin E. Nashman Postdoctoral Fellowship in Theoretical Astrophysics.
“To me, that just was so special because it just showed how much he not just intellectually understood, but he actually viscerally understood what we were trying to do and where we were coming from and the hurdles that we had to overcome,” Kollmeier said.