In Memory: R. Nelson Nash

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The following is adapted from the eulogy David gave at Nelson Nash’s funeral on March 30, 2019 in Birmingham, Alabama.

Good Morning, my name is David Stearns. I am Nelson’s son-in-law, married to his youngest daughter Kimberly. I’m also a Co-Director of the Nelson Nash Institute.

I first met Nelson on August 9th, 1979, two days before marrying Kim. I didn’t realize until later that I had broken every courting rule, the first and most important – not asking for Kim’s hand in marriage.

After we shook hands and got the “pleasantries” out of the way, Nelson waited for the opportune time to sit me down, (gulp) then with pen in hand, he had me sign a whole Life insurance contract! I wasn’t sure what I had signed, but at that point, I would have signed anything. That first impression of Nelson has remained with me over our forty-year relationship.
I received three significant gifts from Nelson, two from that first encounter. The first one was Kim, the second gift did not fully materialize for twenty years, it was a glimpse of the genesis of his brilliant Infinite Banking Concept, with the signing of that first insurance policy.

The third gift was the most important. Witnessing Nelson’s walk with Christ was at first subtle but emerged more clearly and forcibly over the years. Coupled with Kim’s own devout relationship with Christ, I was led to be baptized in 1986, and to continue my journey with the Lord daily.

Nelson was the most consistent Christian I have known, he never wavered, led by example, always had a clear, convicted understanding of the bible and how to incorporate that belief into everyday living. I remember him saying many times in his business seminars that “if you are not a believer, then we need to have a much more important conversion later”.

Nelson repeatedly said that the bible is the best financial book ever written. While working in the insurance industry, he used his biblical principles and his passion and knowledge of Austrian Economics to write his classic book Becoming Your Own Banker and formulate The Infinite Banking Concept or IBC. For those of you that are not familiar with Nelson’s IBC, it is simply a common-sense financial philosophy based on individual action, using free contracts between free people, to eliminate the need for banks and to secede from onerous government financial programs. IBC is a profound blessing not only for me and my family, but for thousands of Americans and Canadians that embraced his revolutionary financial philosophy.

Nothing Nelson did was left to happenstance (except his travel planning, more on this later). A prime example is his development and preparation for his Becoming Your Own Banker Seminar. He memorized 10 hours of material, to include “appropriate” jokes (has anyone heard his weed eater joke?). When he wanted you to fully understand something, he would tell you to read it, to read it again, and then memorize it. He took voice lessons, not only because he was a lifelong church choir member, but because he believed it would enhance his seminar presentation.

He had the gift of captivating an audience immediately and holding their attention for hours. Unfortunately, someone would eventually beg for a bathroom break! They all felt that he was speaking to them directly. Nelson always looked for a personal connection with anyone he met; question: where are you from? Answer (pick a town (fill in the blank)); Nelson’s reply: oh, I know that place, I drove through there in 1952 on my way to March Air Force Base, California.

Nelson and Mary took their grandchildren to Europe on three separate occasions. When they traveled to Germany with their four teenage grandsons, they landed in Dusseldorf. Once on the ground they couldn’t find a suitable rental van, and hotel after hotel posted no vacancy. It seemed that something called the World Cup coincided with their trip.

We coded Nelson’s trips as “drive-byes” because when travelling to see some notable location on his list, you never seemed to spend more than 30 minutes at any one site. A couple of pictures captured the location forever.

He was famous for his travel detours, these were side trips inserted into a seminar trip, intended to catch up with, and usually surprise, old friends and acquaintances alike.

Nelson was fortunate to do what he loved, I’ve heard him say that the last 20 years of his life had been his most fulfilling. By sharing what he treasured, everyone that personally knew him was blessed and changed forever. He was one of the few on this earth that inspired and impacted thousands of people he never met. He created a gift for us that we must continue to share. We are blessed to have the challenge to continue his legacy so that future generations can benefit from his gift.