He grew up in a formal family.
He became an informal father who always was engaged in his children’s and grandchildren’s activities.
He was an attorney, but he didn’t have time for the endless wrangling of politics, euphemisms for incompetence or foot-dragging.
Ed Nash, 88, a long-time Janesville attorney, 4-H judge and Rock County Board member died Nov. 12. Services for him will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, with visitation from 3 p.m. until the time of services Friday at the funeral home.
He grew up in Manitowoc in what his daughters describe as “a very formal family.”
“In the pictures, they were always all lined up in a row, wearing suits,” his daughter Jenna Elliott said.
His mother and father might have attended his sporting events—Nash was a top-notch tennis player—but it wasn’t a lively household.
Out of that experience, he somehow managed to become a dad’s dad, the kind that showed up at elementary school plays, athletic contests, 4-H competitions and even the sporting events of nieces and nephews.
He also seemed to have a heart for the underdog. When he was a 4-H judge in Dane County, he would keep an eye on the kid who seemed to be working hard but just couldn’t quite hit the mark.
“He sometimes would bump that kid up, just a little bit, to give them some encouragement,” Elliott said.
Terri Wixom, another of Nash’s daughters, said he was an invaluable grandparent.
After her divorce, she was left with the challenge of two children, one with special needs.
“He was more of a parent to my kids than a grandparent,” Wixom said. “And he helped me be a parent, too.”
That kindness extended to his law practice, where he was frequently underpaid—or not paid at all—for the work he did.
“When people said they couldn’t pay, he’d say, ‘We’ll work something out,’” Elliott said.
Nash, who started out in the Rock County District Attorney’s Office, spent most of his career as a general practice lawyer.
As a county board member, he was respectful of department heads but never accepted excuses for incompetence or foot dragging.
In 2000, Nash introduced a resolution to close the Beloit courthouse. Having two courthouses was an expense to the taxpayers and inconvenience for the Rock County Sheriff’s Office. It was one of those things everybody knew, but none of the county board supervisors seemed willing to pull the trigger.
Nash spoke bluntly to the board: “There’s been enough factionalism on this board about this issue. We should be seeking out economic efficiencies to help meet the other pressing needs in the county.”
The resolution passed.
When the UW-Rock County Foundation wanted the county to cede it a portion of land for a dorm, Nash voted no, and was one of the few board members to point out the gaping legal holes in contract.
“He was one of the few supervisors who served on the board in three different decades,” said supervisor and former county board chairman Russ Podzilni.
Podzilni attended Lawrence College with Nash.
Nash’s daughters said he always was willing to tell it like it was.
“He was very matter of fact about things,” Elliott said. “He always encouraged us to speak up, even if it wasn’t popular.”