DURHAM — Durham Town Councilman Nick Nahas died Saturday of complications from lymphoma, his wife Mary Lou Nahas said Tuesday. He was 77.
Nahas was diagnosed earlier this year with spinal lymphoma and was undergoing treatment but suffered a major stroke about three months ago. He was ready to return to his treatment but he developed pneumonia
He died surrounded by his family, Mary Lou Nahas said.
“He was absolutely determined he would get well,” she said. “He never gave up hope.”
Nick and Mary Lou Nahas, who met at Arkansas Tech University, were married for more than 56 years. They have two children.
“Nick was a very special person,” Mary Lou Nahas said. “I was very lucky to have him.”
A memorial service will be held at the Durham-Oak Hill United Methodist Church in Durham on Nov. 24 at 10 a.m., followed by burial in the Oak Hill Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Oak Hill Preservation Association, which Nick Nahas founded, the Durham-Oak Hill United Methodist Church or Kittens Angels, an organization that rescues abandoned and orphaned cats. The Nahases adopted a cat named Lucy from the organization.
“He loved cats,” Mary Lou Nahas said. “His cat Lucy was with him constantly.”
The community respected Nick Nahas because of his kindness and honesty, Mary Lou Nahas said, adding if he was given too much money back when getting change he would give it back.
“Nick was a truly nice man,” she said. “He was a hard person to dislike.”
After serving in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps as a test officer from 1968 to 1970, Nick Nahas began a career of more than 30 years as a research scientist and manager for Exxon Mobil.
He worked in England, Texas and New Jersey for the corporation, Mary Lou Nahas said. The traveling was enjoyable, but the couple didn’t like to relocate too much.
“He traveled quite a bit when he worked,” she said. “We kind of had the best worlds.”
Nick and Mary Lou Nahas bought a second home in Durham about 20 years ago because the area reminded him of where he grew up in Arkansas, Mary Lou Nahas said. They became full-time residents of the town in 2010.
“It’s a beautiful place,” Mary Lou Nahas said. “He liked the four seasons.”
Nick Nahas loved his community and will be sorely missed, Durham Town Supervisor Shawn Marriott said Tuesday.
“He was definitely a pleasure to work with,” Marriott said. “He was a wealth of information.”
The town board next faces the task of appointing someone to fill the remainder of Nick Nahas’ four-year term, Durham Town Councilman Jerry Cunningham said.
Nahas was appointed to the town board in January 2012 and was elected the following November to a two-year term, according to the Durham town website.
“I imagine we’ll appoint somebody,” Cunningham said.
Nahas did a lot for Durham and Oak Hill and was a great asset to the town, Cunningham said.
“I had the utmost respect for him,” Cunningham said. “He was very much interested in the historical aspect of the town.”
Former Town Supervisor William Carr Jr. respected Nahas’ determination. He learned of his death Sunday on Facebook.
“I was always impressed by Nick’s intellect and his devotion to the town of Durham,” Carr said.
Nahas served as chairman of the Durham Comprehensive Plan Committee but had to step down due to health issues. Chuck Brooks stepped in for what he thought was a temporary position.
“He was a sick man and was going through a lot,” Brooks said. “I was asked to step in until he got better.”
Brooks didn’t know Nick Nahas well but after attending town board meetings Brooks believed Nahas was fully committed to his office and his townspeople.
“We certainly know he had the town and its residents in his heart,” Brooks said. “He was a person that was well-respected and well-liked.”
To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.