Nina Nash-Robertson, longtime director of CMU choral activities, dies


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Professor Nina Nash-Robertson poses for a photo on April 13 at the Music Building. (File Photo/Mikayla Carter)

Nina Nash-Robertson, who served as director of choral activities at Central Michigan University for 35 years, is being remembered for providing students the opportunity to sing outside the U.S. and to appreciate each day.

She died Jan. 6, as announced by the CMU School of Music on their official Facebook page. Nash-Robertson retired from her position in May 2017.

“We are saddened to hear of the death of Dr. Nina Nash-Robertson,” the post read. “Dr. Nash-Robertson was a loving mother and wife, an inspiring educator, and a beautiful soul. She retired last May after 35 years as the Director of Choral Activities for Central Michigan University. She will be dearly missed.”

Nash-Robertson's funeral takes place at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 12 at First Presbyterian Church, 1250 Watson Road. Visitation takes place from 3-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11 at Charles R. Lux Funeral Home, 2300 S. Lincoln St. 

Jenny Robertson, Nash-Robertson's daughter, said on Facebook that "heaven gained the most incredible angel."

"My mom, Nina Nash-Robertson, passed away this afternoon after suffering a brain aneurysm yesterday," Robertson said. "We are in shock and heartbroken, but are comforted knowing that she went quickly without pain and was her joyful, vivacious self until the end. We also know she was loved by so many, and will post details about funeral arrangements once we know more. In the meantime please keep her in your thoughts and prayers."

Jenny Robertson said her mother was spending her retirement by taking art classes and doing Pilates. She said being a part of the CMU and Mount Pleasant community meant a lot to Nash-Robertson, who her daughter said would stay up until midnight writing letters of recommendation for students.

Robertson said the family has received an outpouring of support from the community about her mother.

“I think it’s a testament to who she is," Robertson said. "She was a vibrant personality. She was such a sincere genuine person who took an interest in anyone.”

John Robertson, a faculty member in the history department, said his wife loved to cook and could strike up a conversation with nearly anybody. 

“She was incredibly giving and incredibly nurturing all the time," he said.

People took to the School of Music's Facebook page to express condolences and remember Nash-Robertson.

"She was one of my favorite teachers. I loved the expressions she always had on her face," user Nancy Patenaude Richards commented. "She always made you smile. Remember her saying never scoop up to a new you sing each note individually. Every time I hear someone sing nowadays they're scooping all over the place (seems to be the new style of voice). And I say what would Miss Nina say to that? She surely will be missed."



Nash-Robertson began her career as director of choral activities in 1982. Central Michigan Life reported in April that Nash-Robertson’s job included being in charge of vocal auditions, recruitment, advising students and organizations and coordinated performances with the choir director and orchestra director.

Students in the American Choral Directors Association, a chapter Nash-Robertson founded and advised on campus, created an award titled the Nina Nash Choral Service award before she retired last May.

Nash-Robertson told CM Life last April that her final word of advice to her students before she retired were to just breathe.

“Trust that your life will unfold and it will be more beautiful than you could imagine right now,” she said. “Don’t only work hard, (but) appreciate. Knowing that I’m (retiring) helps me appreciate each rehearsal and day more.”

Nash-Robertson spent her last month at CMU taking the Festival Chorus to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City. MLive.com reported in May that John Glenn High School in Bangor Township was asked by Nash-Robertson to perform.

Among some of the places Nash-Robertson has taken students to perform are the Czech Republic, Slovakia and China.

West Bloomfield Township senior Nick Kisse said the first class he ever walked into was Nash-Robertson’s concert choir. 

“I've always loved music, and Nina was the first person who I met in college who I felt not only shared, but exceeded that passion,” Kisse said. “Truth be told, she was the reason why I kept paying to come back and do choir each semester that she was here, she just radiated a love for it and helped us make tremendous growth as musicians and singers.

Kisse added that Nash-Robertson was one of the most important people he’d ever met and encouraged him to branch out, meet new people and experiment with how own limitations.

“She was a saint, an absolute cut above the rest, and I'll never forget that,” he said.

Detroit sophomore Jonathan Hosey was in Nash-Robertson's choir from Fall 2015 to Spring 2016. Hosey said Nash-Robertson was his favorite professor.

"Her warmth and graciousness was a distinct attribute of hers," Hosey said. "She had the rare gift of, despite how many people she knows, or how many people are in the room at any moment, making anyone feel like they are the most important person in that moment — that she cares about their needs or concerns.

"She was incredibly gracious with her time and willingness to go out of her way to help, and often mentor students."

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About Evan Sasiela

Evan Sasiela is the University Editor at Central Michigan Life and a senior at Central Michigan ...

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