Decades before a U.S. Army general earned the nickname Stormin’ Norman for his high profile during the Persian Gulf War, Miami had its own Stormin’ Norman.
This Stormin’ Norman, Dr. Norman Nash, earned his handle through a tough exterior. But for the thousands of children this beloved Miami-Dade pediatrician treated since 1952, Nash was as sweet as the lollipop treat after the visit.
Nash died Tuesday morning at 93, in Coral Gables, after a long illness. He was the kind of dedicated, old-fashioned kind of caring doctor who did house calls (ask your parents) that TV producers idealized in fictional characters like Marcus Welby.
Miami attorney Charlie Flynn remembers the time about 23 years ago when Nash stayed up all night with Flynn’s 2-year-old daughter in the hospital to see her through a raging fever and infection.
“He was a great pediatrician,” Flynn said. “We would never, ever call somebody else. He met me at Miami Children’s Hospital. Rushed down there. Got her on an IV. Got her through the night.”
Nash was the true definition of a family doctor.
“He was one of those guys who always worked on his own and always wanted to treat his patients,’’ Flynn said. “A singular type of doctor who would show up at your house. My wife said he did house calls in the ’60s and ’70s. He worked seven days a week.”
As his son Craig Nash explains: “He was very high energy, always moving, never stopping.”
Indeed, that earned him his Stormin’ Norman sobriquet.
“That was his personality,’’ his son said. “He cared so much about the kids that he wanted the parents to listen to him. He knew what was wrong with the kids and what had to get better and he wanted to make sure they were looking after the kids the way he wanted them to.”
He was bigger than life, dedicated to his craft and clearly the person I looked up to. I will miss him.
Craig Nash, on his father Dr. Norman Nash, a popular pediatrician in Miami
Nash, who earned his bachelor’s of science from the University of Alabama (and thus became a lifelong Crimson Tide fan), and his medical degree at New York Medical College in 1948, opened his practice in South Miami in 1952. Through his 80s, he juggled offices in Kendall and Hialeah, as well as South Miami and the Upper Keys. He figured he’d treated more than 10,000 children, three generations’ worth, by the time he hit 80 — and he wasn’t done.
Among his patients: the children of Florida Rep. Murray Dubbin (1963-’74); baseball player Ted Williams; and Norton Segal, whose family created the Yellow Cab System in Miami.
In a 2003 Miami Herald article on seniors who eschewed retirement, Nash counted himself among those who planned to work forever.
“I don’t play golf or tennis. What am I going to do? This is my hobby,” Nash said of his profession. At 80, he maintained a five-day-a-week schedule, including Saturday mornings. “I love what I do. As long as I’m able to talk and write and read my journals, I’ll practice.”
And so he did, even if his wife of 67 years and four grown children suggested he’d earned the right to relax.
“I had a 5-year-old ask me, ‘When are you going to retire?’ I told her, ‘When you grow up,’ ” Nash said in the article.
Nash, born Dec. 10, 1922, in Brooklyn, served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army and moved his growing family to Miami when he accepted his residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Nash was a founding staff member at Miami Children’s (now Nicklaus Children’s) Hospital, Mercy, South Miami, Doctors, Palmetto General and Baptist.
“Here you had this Brooklyn Jew who went to the University of Alabama come to Miami in a time before it became this thriving metropolis. And all these people were founding the same things — Temple Beth Am, South Miami Hospital — these were new institutions created and he was a part of that,” his son said. “So his patients had become friends and we shared all these moments, these rites of passage.”
In addition to his son Craig, Nash is survived by his wife, Barbara, his children Roger, Alicia and Kerry, nine grandchildren and a great-grandson. Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Thursday at Temple Beth Am, 5950 N. Kendall Dr.