Faye Haskin Nazon, former co-owner and administrator of the Cojeunaze Nursing Center, passed away quietly in her sleep on Feb. 5. She was also a much loved home economics teacher and guidance counselor at Hyde Park Academy High School from 1966 to 1979.
The youngest of seven children, Nazon was born in the small town of Lucky, Louisiana on Dec. 8, 1936.
Nazon earned a bachelors’ degree from Prairie View A&M University. After graduating in 1960, she headed to Chicago and was employed at Provident Hospital as a dietitian. There she met and married Yvon Nazon, a doctor from Port au Prince, Haiti and two children were born to this union – Jeune Nazon (Adrienne) and Cosette Nazon Yisrael. After earning a masters’ degree in education from Loyola University in 1975, Nazon transitioned from a home economics teacher to a guidance counselor. Although teaching was her first love, she left education to join the family business in 1980 and became the administrator at the Bronzeville-based nursing center, the first African American-owned nursing home in Chicago. Under her direction, Nazon helped to establish Cojeunaze as a successful five-star, 200-bed facility that she ran for 15 years before she retired and the business changed ownership.
Also known as an excellent hostess, Nazon delighted in cooking gourmet meals for her family and friends and hosted exquisite parties in her beautifully decorated Hyde Park home that included hand written invitations, themed decorations and delicious menus for occasions such as July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Her guest lists often included the “Who’s Who” in Chicago society.
For many people, retirement means being on an endless vacation. For Nazon it was all about reinvention and being an extraordinary grandmother. She was blessed with three amazing granddaughters. When the family discovered that one of her granddaughter’s had leukemia at 18 months of age, Nazon spent many long hours at Children’s Memorial Hospital assisting in her care. At age 60, she trained for and completed her first marathon to raise money and awareness for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America. In all, she completed three marathons as she and her children raised over $10,000 for the organization. She remained committed to her health and adopted an organic diet, spent time in the gym and added yoga to her daily routine.
As a part of her personal reinvention, Nazon acted on the advice of friends when she enrolled in the Barbizon School of Modeling. When she completed the course, she was armed with a portfolio and an agent. She went on numerous auditions for print work and commercials. Her most notable opportunity was being featured in the beauty section of Ebony magazine in August 2005. Nazon also studied piano and performed at recitals. She loved to sing and joined the University of Chicago Chorus. In addition, she was an avid bowler.
In April 2010, this fearless woman of faith faced the biggest challenge of her life. She was diagnosed with lung cancer. Instead of allowing life to get the best of her, she set an example for her children and grandchildren by facing her illness head-on. Her years as a marathoner taught her how to push through the difficult times to be successful. She walked daily and kept her mind focused on the future. By September, she came out of retirement and became a substitute teacher for Dolton, IL School District 149. She also turned her home into a bed and breakfast, hosting international students and guests from all over the world. When Nazon’s daughter Cosette founded The Love, Unity & Values Institute, a non-profit organization to assist disadvantaged youth, Nazon helped supervise the summer programs, taught etiquette to first generation college students and was the inspiration for the Institute’s Wreaths of LUV program.
While Nazon traveled around the world, achieved the highest success in business and enjoyed the finer things in life, the last five years embodied her commitment to her family and to young people. She leaves a legacy of excellence that will serve as an inspiration for both her family and the youth she touched.
Nazon is survived by a host of family, friends and colleagues. A celebration of life for Nazon will be held on Saturday, Feb. 27, at 9 a.m. at Christ Universal Temple in the Rev. Helen Carry Faith Chapel located at 11901 S. Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60643 where she was a member for over 30 years. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to support Nazon’s favorite charity, The Love, Unity & Values Institute, where the Faye H. Nazon Scholarship Fund has been established. Please visit www.luvinstitute.org or call 773-624-5200 for more information.