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Joan Nusbaum: Leaves a Legacy of Love to Family and Community

Joan NusbaumJoan Nusbaum was as multifaceted as the loves in her life: her family at the center, surrounded by friends, art and music, combined with interests in medicine and education and sprinkled with a sense of adventure. Over her lifetime, Joan became a philanthropist who believed in giving back to her community.

Joan was brought up in a middle-class family where she was able to enjoy many advantages. That environment made her realize later on how blessed she had been and from that grew a charitable heart. Joan’s family moved to Norfolk when she was just a few years old. An only child, Joan became outgoing and friendly. She grew up in Ghent and attended Maury High School before attending Old Dominion University. Joan took art classes under Jean Outland Chrysler, who also took her students on field trips to New York City.

Joan married Joseph Nusbaum, from Philadelphia, who joined the family insurance business following their marriage. Together they raised three wonderful daughters: Nancy Albinder, class of 1971; Carol Jo Bays; and Janis Hollenback MS ’79. Joan and Joe enjoyed classical music and outings to the Virginia Symphony. They began collecting art while in their 40s and 50s. Over the years, music became Joe’s passion and art Joan’s. Joan loved traveling, and she collected art — from primitive to classical to modern. The result is an eclectic collection of things she loved.

Joan and Joseph NusbaumWhile family was always paramount to Joan, time spent with her daughters and grandchildren became even more precious after Joe’s untimely death in 1994. While Joan enjoyed family gatherings, she also relished intimate time with her daughters and grandchildren. When the family spread out, Joan would phone regularly, keeping in touch individually with family members. Joan’s daughter Nancy smiles as she shares a photo of Joan in Disney World with her great-granddaughter and her parents. It was a special trip Joan had planned for the small group to enjoy each other and the wonder of Mickey Mouse. At Joan’s death, she had been blessed with seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Later in life, Joan saw the many needs in her community and stepped forward to make a difference in her own quiet way. Joan was also interested in making a few social changes, and in that arena, she led by example. Filled with great compassion, Joan acted on the needs surrounding her. Philanthropy became even more important to Joan in her later years.

Nancy said that her mother would have liked being characterized as a philanthropist. One very generous gift was a donation Joan made to Old Dominion University, consisting of apartments housing ODU students. In exchange for the property, Joan received income for the remainder of her lifetime. Gone were any worries about the upkeep of the property and Joan moved to Florida for several years.

Joan Nusbaum and family at DisneyWhen Joan returned she became an enthusiastic Monarch athletics fan. Joan privately enjoyed seeing the impact her gift had made in establishing the villages along Monarch Way. Joan’s gift, however, didn’t just make a difference in the enhanced campus expansion; it was also instrumental in improving student life at Old Dominion University and attracting future students.

Have you made a provision to leave a future gift to Old Dominion University? If so, please let us know so we may thank you. Please contact Barbara M. Henley, CFRE at 757-683-6563 or or Brett A. Smiley, CFRE at 757-683-4735 or

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