So there was a private memorial service for Nash yesterday. She died last Wednesday, on her late mother's birthday, after a long illness. She was 76 and had lived in West Philadelphia.
As quiet as Nash was though, "she was just such a forceful person," when it came to her work at the Youth Study Center, recalled Judge Juanita Kidd Stout, the retired Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice who spent part of her career in juvenile court.
"She cared about those kids," Stout added. "She did so much to get them homes, or help them with school. She was wonderful! She had such a beautiful personality, the kids loved her."
Nash was particularly noted for conceiving, developing and directing the court's Counseling and Referral unit, considered innovative when it began in 1966. The unit was a "nonjudicial" Family Court agency aimed at diverting juveniles from the justice system. Nash retired in 1982.
"She didn't think that lock-up was always the answer for children," said Sharon Bembery, a lawyer who had known Nash since Bembery was a teen-ager.
The counseling and referral unit arranged for administrative hearings at which a juvenile and his or her parents might pay restitution for actions that could be considered pranks or "simply bad judgment." The idea was to admit wrongdoing, but avoid a criminal record.
"Not only did she work professionally as a tireless advocate for youth, but also in her personal and family life," Bembery said.
In fact, Bembery and her younger sister, Cheryl B. Darden, became unofficial wards of Nash after their elderly grandmother could no longer care for them and asked for help.
Nash looked into the girls' records and saw that they were honor roll students. She took them into her own home until foster care could be arranged.
"We lived in the Raymond Rosen housing project and didn't have parental support, but she saw that we were going to school and trying to do the best we could," said Bembery, now executive director of the Southwest Belmont Community Association.
When it was time for the sisters to go to college, it was Nash who drove them there. Bembery went to Marietta College and Darden graduated from Vassar.
But Bembery said social workers were supposed to maintain a professional distance from their clients, and "people criticized her for taking such a personal interest in our development."
Nash, a single woman with no children of her own, acted as guardians for Bembery and Darden in addition to rearing two nieces, Marcheta F. Winder and Emma Lake Erie Nash.
Emma Nash said her aunt helped people because of the hardships she experienced as one of 12 children growing up during the Depression.
"Even though her parents were college-educated, they traveled all over the U.S. because there was no work," Emma Nash said. "They had to depend on extended family to take in a family of 12, plus two adults."
As a social worker, Nash enjoyed the support and respect of a number of prominent Philadelphia jurists, including Stout and Common Pleas Judge Lisa Richette.
Born in Atlanta to the late Alfred and Rosabelle R. Nash, Grace Nash moved with her family to St. Paul, Minn., before settling in Philadelphia in the late 1940s.
She was a 1940 graduate of Morris Brown College in Atlanta and received her master's degree in sociology from Atlanta University. She also got a master's degree in social work. She studied under W.E.B. DuBois and frequently recounted stories about the legendary black leader.
Nash held numerous certificates and awards in her field. And she served on the board of many organizations, including the Women's Christian Alliance, the Metropolitan Board of the YWCA of Philadelphia, the Southwest Belmont YWCA, the Child Welfare League of America and the Masterman School PTA.
In addition to two nieces, Nash is survived by two brothers, William Nash and Jefferson C. Nash; a sister, Dorothy Mitchell; an aunt, India Smith; cousins Mildred R. Greene and Jefferson C. Rosette, and many grandnieces, nephews and cousins.
Contributions may be made to the Office of Alumni Relations, Morris Brown
College, Atlanta, Ga.