Paul G. Nahon, III, a former University of Richmond student and accomplished tennis player, died Aug. 15 while hiking in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, he fell about 150 feet while pursuing his goal to climb all of the state’s “fourteeners,” mountains more than 14,000 feet tall. Nahon, from Springfield, Mo., was 20 years old.
“Paul surprised me,” recalled Ben Johnson, the men’s tennis coach. He described a player both academically and athletically gifted, who was diligent and willing to make sacrifices for his sport.
Nahon won two state championships while attending Glendale High School, and his 117 total wins is a Missouri record. But he excelled off the courts as well; he was one of the top 10 students in his high school class and a member of the National Honor Society. After being recruited to Richmond, he continued his academic success by having the highest male athlete GPA both his freshman and sophomore years.
Ultimately it was the stress of balancing academics and Division I tennis that led Nahon to transfer to a Division III program at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colo., Johnson said. He would have started his first semester there this fall.
“He just had a different vision of where he wanted to go,” Johnson said, rebuffing bitterness as a cause. “I think he took a very mature approach with it.”
Junior Dylan Trent, Nahon’s roommate and teammate, saw the intensity of Nahon’s schedule gradually change him from “laid-back” to assiduous during the two years they lived together. After starting as a pre-med student, Nahon shifted to studying accounting before settling on environmental studies, a major that fit well with his love of climbing, hiking and the outdoors, Johnson said.
Trent said that he would miss his friend’s “big, goofy smile” and charisma.
“Whatever Paul did, you kind of followed,” Trent said.
A memorial for Nahon will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8 in Weinstein Hall’s Brown-Alley Room. It is open to the public, and a light reception will follow the event.
Contact staff writer Ben Panko at firstname.lastname@example.org