Robyn Bandele Nash, Esq., of Edgartown, a dancer and attorney, died peacefully on June 25, 2020. Her 14-year journey with cancer ended surrounded by loved ones in her family home. She was 66.
Robyn was born in Lagos, Nigeria, to parents Robert J. Nash, architect of Memphis, Tenn., and M. Teixeira Nash, artist, of Quincy and Oak Bluffs. Days after her birth, Robyn was honored with a Yoruba Komajadi naming ceremony and given the name Bandele, which means a child born away from home who shall return again.
At four months, Robyn moved to Washington, D.C., when her father returned to America to join the Army Corps of Engineers. Robyn began classical ballet studies at the age of 3 at the prestigious Jones-Haywood Dance School. Mother M. Teixeira Nash wanted her three children to continue the legacy of black professionals in Oak Bluffs, and brought the family to summer here each year, as her mother had brought her.
After a short break due to injury, Robyn returned to dancing at age 16, and expanded her study to tap, jazz, modern, and contemporary. She continued dancing while in college, and wrote, “Going to Howard and having a career as a professional dancer is an overwhelming task. But … I feel that I can do anything if I want to.” She graduated from Howard University in 1977 with a bachelor’s in journalism.
In 1976, Robyn founded dance company Theatre Movement Exchange, Inc., based in Washington, D.C., and performed as principal dancer with the company. She also served as a producer and choreographer for WJLA-TV’s “Studio ’78,” and performed with the LaVerne Reed Dancers. During her dance career in the 1960s and 1970s, Robyn shared a stage with Debbie Allen, Capitol Ballet Co., Alvin Ailey Dance Co., and Dance Theatre of Harlem. Robyn was a social butterfly who personified her favorite word, fierce.
Robyn played a key role in her parent’s businesses. For her contributions to the Minority Report 1979 for the National Endowment for the Arts, author M. Teixeira Nash featured her daughter’s dancer portrait on the cover. Robyn served as an arts agent for Teixeira, helping to open her mixed-media, one-woman show, “Scapes,” in New York City in 1981. Robyn also served as the director of business development for her father’s architecture firm, Robert J. Nash, FAIA, and Associates, P.C. The firm designed more than 100 churches and religious facilities, and developed numerous public buildings in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.
Robyn’s career shifted to law, and in 1989 she graduated from Howard University School of Law. Robyn was appointed as an administrative judge for the D.C. Office of Employee Appeals in 1991. Robyn was a soror in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and a member of the Xi Zeta Omega chapter of Washington, D.C.
Robyn made the Island her year-round home in 1998. On the Vineyard, Robyn established a private law practice, handling estate and business law, and representing private clients as a public defender. She was a trustee of Union Chapel.
On her 52nd birthday in 2006, Robyn was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Her spirit and energy were never dashed through numerous surgeries and continued chemotherapy treatments. Robyn was beloved by all at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where she was treated throughout her cancer battle.
Robyn looked forward to participating in the Jimmy Fund Walk to raise money for Dana-Farber each year. About the walk she said, “God is love. And love conquers all. And Dana-Farber is all about the love.” She was honored as a Walk Hero from 2015 to 2018.
Robyn maintained her infectious positivity until her last days. She embodied her mantra, “Love what you have; accept what you receive; give what you can; forgive what you can’t; and bless what you see. Be the source of light!”
She is survived by her companion of 12 years, Thomas Allen; siblings Carolyn Bettina Nash Burgess and Steven Andrew Nash; four nieces (Jennifer, Robyn Andrea, Gabrielle, and Juliette), one nephew (Spencer), and three cats (Max, Pumba, and Myron).
Services will commence at 5 pm on Sunday, July 5, 2020, at Oak Grove Cemetery,Pacific Avenue, Oak Bluffs
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Robyn’s honor to the Jimmy Fund, P.O. Box 849168, Boston, MA 02284-9168, or at jimmyfund.org.
For online guestbook and information, please visit ccgfuneralhome.com.