Paula Nash: a special gift processing specialist

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She took pride in her job, and in doing it right.

Almost every gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation these past 16 years crossed the desk of Paula Nash, a gift processing specialist in the accounting department.She took pride in her job, and in doing it right.

She sat at her desk just seven days before she died on Friday, Dec. 17, 2010. A multitude of lingering health problems finally took her life, according to son Dan Cockerham of Palmyra, Nebraska.

“Mother was meticulous about her work,” Cockerham said. “She enjoyed doing the work.

“She enjoyed working a whole lot more than having her heart problems, kidney problems, lung problems. I think having a job to go to helped her forget those problems, and kept her going.”

She took pride in the family she left behind: her two grown sons, Dan and Bill Cockerham of Blue Springs, Missouri; and the three grandkids she adored: Elizabeth, 11; Edward, 8; and Emmalie, 5.

As she sat at her desk, she could see photos of them smiling at her.

“Paula was extremely dedicated to the foundation and its mission,” says her longtime supervisor, foundation Vice President and Treasurer Jason Kennedy.” There were many days she came to work when most people would have stayed home. She was very important in processing all gifts and performed many different duties working on multiple systems.

“The foundation believes that every employee contributes to every gift. Paula’s contribution was huge.”

Most of the accounting department attended the funeral, at a Methodist church in Palmyra, Nebraska, where she’d been born 67 years ago and lived her whole life. Before coming to the foundation 16 years ago, she’d worked as the Palmyra village clerk for a number of years, then took a year off to travel.

She was a small-town girl, Cockerham said. She liked to mow the yard. She liked to play computer games like Chinese checkers and Solitaire. More than anything, she liked being with those grandkids.

Nash had her first heart attack in 1996. She returned to work about a year later after going through rehabilitation. She had her second heart attack in 2003.

Again, she returned to her desk.

“She just kept plugging along,” her son said. “She didn’t like to sit around with nothing to do.”

“She kept fighting.”

Honoring Paula

The Paula Nash Memorial Scholarship is a fund honoring the life and dedication of Paula. The permanently endowed fund provides scholarship tuition assistance to graduates of Palmyra High School in Nebraska. Eligible and deserving students may be enrolled on any campus of the university system and study any major. Recipients are selected by the NU system scholarship committee. Thank you for your gift to this fund which will help many students over the years.

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