NEW ALBANY — Warren Nash met Lee Hamilton in the early 1960s when the two entered politics. Nash first became a precinct committeeman in 1964 before being elected Floyd County Assessor in 1966 and New Albany mayor in 1971. Hamilton, a Columbus native, was elected to the U.S. Congress for the first time in 1965.
"He was very young back then and so was I," Nash said.
Hamilton went on to serve 34 years in Congress and not only left his mark on the Ninth District and the state, but the country as well as a respected statesman.
It's only fitting that Nash will receive an award on Aug. 24 named after his old friend at the Ninth District's 139th Indiana Democratic Editorial Association (I.D.E.A.) convention in French Lick. Nash will receive the Lee H. Hamilton Public Service Award at a dinner on the final night of the conference.
Nash has also left his mark on New Albany government and the Floyd County Democrat Party. After serving as the city's mayor he remained active in local politics and was chairman of his party for 12 years. He's still involved, serving as president of the New Albany Board of Public Works & Safety for the last 7 1/2 years.
“Warren Nash's career in public service and politics has spanned over 50 years and includes tenure as an elected official, an appointed representative, and party leader,” Ninth District Chairman Adam Dickey said. “In politics today, it is rare to see an individual who has served for so long or made such a mark on his state and local community.”
Nash said he was "shocked" when he found out he would be the recipient of the award this year. Former winners include Judy O'Bannon, Wayne Vance and Vi Simpson.
"I am just very humbled," he said. "I have been going to the convention since the 1960s and this [dinner and award] is somewhat of a new event. I was just very surprised."
Nash said he will pay tribute to Hamilton and former Indiana Sen. Birch Bayh, who died in March, in his acceptance speech. He said he had a "great working relationship," with both men.
"He [Hamilton] has been a giant in the party. Not only in the Ninth District but the state," Nash said. "He is looked up to by so many. He is a magnificent man, so well respected. I never heard a bad thing about him."
Nash said when he was mayor he received assistance from Hamilton and Bayh to not only get Riverview Tower built, but to also add interstate ramps at State Street, make Grant Line Road four lanes on the Interstate 265 overpass, and keep Klerner Lane open.
"He [Bayh] was very personable. He helped me in many ways," Nash said. "To make changes to an interstate highway was unheard of but he got it done for us."
Nash said he has enjoyed being involved in Floyd County politics over the past 55 years, especially watching others be successful and winning elections.
"It was very rewarding seeing candidates get elected and see how they perform in office. It makes you feel good about them," he said. "I have enjoyed staying active and being involved."
At 83, he is still involved with city government as president of the board of works. He also sits on the flood control board.
“Nash continues to embrace the responsibility each of us have to make our nation, state, and local community a better place,” Dickey said. “He illustrates that each of us regardless of our age, background, or experience can play an important part in our community.”
Nash said he will continue to serve, and be active in the party, as long has he can.
"If I can still be helpful I enjoy serving," he said. "I like Mayor [Jeff] Gahan and told him when he was elected if I can be of any help let me know. The city has been very good to me. It's a great city to live in."
For information on attending the Lee H. Hamilton Dinner call party headquarters at 812-725-2020 or go online at www.ninthdistrictdems.org. Tickets for the event are $60 each and must be reserved in advance by Aug. 22.