Leonard Kollender Nash

Leonard Kollender Nash of Lexington and Brookline died November 9, 2013, at age 95 after several years of declining health. He spent most of his professional life at Harvard University, starting as an undergraduate at age sixteen, completing his doctorate in 1944, and teaching in the Chemistry Department from 1947 until his retirement as the Kenan Professor of Chemistry Emeritus in 1986. He worked as a chemist on the Manhattan Project during World War II and briefly taught at the University of Illinois until returning to Harvard. He was a renown and popularteacher, and in addition to publishing in the field of physical chemistry and science education, had a particular interest in the philosophy of science. His insights on this topic were summarized in The Nature of the Natural Sciences, published in1963. The only child of the late Adolph and Carol Nash of New York City, he was preceded in death by his wife of 63 years, Ava (née Byer). He is survived by his two children, Vivian of Brookline and New Haven and David of Cincinnati, and by four grandchildren, Aaron Sklar, Shana Sklar, Nathan Nash, and Samuel Nash.


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8 Condolences

  1. Uncle Bob on November 11, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Your Dad had a great career,a wonderful wife and children. All and all a very rewarding life.
    Uncle Bob

  2. David Byer on November 12, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Very sorry for your loss. I remember my parents, Woody and Sylvia Byer, always speaking fondly of him and of Ava.


  3. Cousin Janet on November 12, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Your father had an illustrious career, but was most fortunate in his choice of wife, and blessed to have had two wonderful children and four strong, loving grandchildren. All my love as always, Cousin Janet

  4. Cousin Susan on November 14, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    It is this time of year I most connect with Uncle Len…perhaps because we (the “Byer” side”) would have Thanksgiving together every year. I am thankful I had an uncle who was so admirable and colorful. I am especially thankful that he and my aunt gave me two wonderful cousins.

  5. Robert Gartside on November 17, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Your father/grandfather was my freshman advisor when I entered Harvard in1946. I was also in his Ghem B class, the advanced first year chemistry course. My father wanted me to be a chemist, because that was “the coming thing.” I had had my “chemistry kit” as a kid, but what I really liked was the fact that potassium cyanide was a pretty red and cobalt a beautiful blue. In my heart I was a classical musician: a pianist and a singer. After a few weeks in Chem B I realized that I was in way over my head, and spoke to Dr. Nash about it, saying “Dr. Nash, I’m not doing very well in this course and wondered if you would have some advice?” His replay was, “Well, Mr. Gartside (we were always “Mr.” in those days) when I was taking this course years ago I also was not doing very well. But I loved chemistry. Do you love chemistry? “Not really, ” I replied. “Then why don’t you quit?” “That’s the best advice I’ve ever heard!” I replied. I called my father that I was quitting chemistry , which almost caused him to have cardiac arrest, but it began a several year quest, at the end of which I became a professional musician. I have lived near your father in Lexington for almost 50 years and have always said “I must go over and thank Dr. Nash for what he did for me.” At 85 I have been thinking more and more that I MUST go visit him. I am so sorry I failed, for it was your father /grandfather who was my first great mentor at Harvard. I am deeplu sympathetic to all your families for your loss. I will never forget the wonderful Dr. Nash.

  6. Seth Boorstein on December 30, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Dr. Nash was my faculty adviser during
    my undergraduate years, 1953-1957,as
    well as my instructor in Chem2.He
    was a great teacher and the most
    helpful, sympathetic and friendly adviser anyone could wish for.I am very sorry to read of his passing.

    Seth Boorstein

  7. Melissa Allen Heath on January 5, 2014 at 5:45 am

    Professor Nash was one of my favorite professors at Harvard (’76 – ’80). His joy in teaching and in engaging students made his classes fun and inspired many of us to pursue the sciences. He really made a difference. My condolences to his family, I’m happy to have known him!

  8. Larry Edelstein on February 16, 2014 at 1:21 am

    I’ve just bought his book (Elements of Statistical Thermodynamics) on Kindle right now. Thus his legacy lives on.

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