In Remembrance: Ferdinand Nadherny ’50 Died on March 12 2013

Ferdinand Nadherny, 86, passed away on March 12, 2013.  Born December 12, 1926, in Berwyn, Illinois, to Fred and Martha Nadherny, he attended Jefferson Grade School before entering Morton East High School outside of Chicago.  At Morton, he was an honor student and played three varsity sports, receiving All State recognition as fullback his senior year.  Ferd was later recognized as one of the four most distinguished graduates of Morton East in the last century.  He graduated from Morton in 1945 and joined the Navy. 

Following his discharge from the Navy he attended Yale University on the G.I. Bill, having been introduced to the school by Robert Anderson.  Ferd later established a scholarship in the name of Anderson for scholar athletes from the Chicago area.  At Yale he majored in economics and earned eight varsity letters in the late 1940s in football and basketball, receiving All America Honorable Mention recognition for his exploits on the gridiron as a hard running fullback. These exploits earned him the nickname, “Ferdinand the Bull,” which affectionately stayed with him throughout his life.  

Following graduation from Yale in 1950 with a degree in economics and sociology, he entered Harvard Business School, graduating in 1952.  While at Harvard he married his beloved wife of 62 years in June 1951.  After Harvard, Nadherny commenced his business career with the Cabot Corporation, eventually settling in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and had three sons (Chris, Steve, and Jeff) and two daughters (Wendy and Sandy).  He was a very devoted father who loved his family and made it a priority throughout his life. 

In 1964 Ferd took a leave of absence from Cabot to further serve his country,  joining the Lyndon Johnson administration in Washington DC, to help organize the Office of Economic Opportunity (the War on Poverty).  He and the family returned to Chicago (Winnetka, Illinois) in 1966 where he held executive positions in several businesses before discovering his calling, executive search, that would become a passion for the next 25 years.  He joined Russell Reynolds Associates in 1974 to start the firm’s Chicago office, only the fourth office in the company.  By the time he retired from the firm in 1996 it had grown to 30 worldwide offices, a number of which he helped open.  Continuing to serve clients, he became president of Russell Reynolds in 1980 and vice chairman in 1988, always working out of Chicago.  Known as a consummate professional whose integrity, enthusiasm, and respect for others were hallmarks, he built and left a legacy in Chicago and more broadly across the firmand industry.  Others trusted him with their lives.  Ferd was recognized as an engaging leader who built teams and was genuinely excited by the successes of others.  He had a never-ending quest for quality, professionalism, and a willingness to listen to others.  His honesty was surpassed only by his work ethic.   

Nadherny was a great believer in education and giving back to his community, serving as a board director for Leadership Greater Chicago, and Leadership for Quality Education. He also became a life trustee of the Golden Apple Foundation, and life member of the Advisory Council for Kellogg Graduate School of Business.  Over the years, he stayed close to his alma mater, chairing three successful 1950 class reunion alumni drives.  An avid golfer, he became a member of Old Elm Country Club in Highland Park, Illinois, and the Country Club of Florida in Boynton Beach where he resided winters with his wife.  A special interest of Ferd’s in later years were the Achievement Centers for Children and Families in Delray, Florida, whose mission is to nurture safe environments for those children at greatest risk and helping families to break the cycle of poverty.  He cared about making a difference. 

In his final five years, beset by congestive heart failure and advanced peripheral neuropathy, he continued to exhibit optimism, courage, and faith.  He is remembered for living life fully, being a role model, caring, his complete integrity, humility, the twinkle in his blue eyes, and the inviting smile with which he greeted his family and many dear friends.  He is survived by his devoted wife, his five children, eleven grandchildren, a great-grandson, and sister, Marjory. 

Those wishing to make a donation in Ferd Nadherny’s name may contribute to the Robert Gardner Anderson Scholarship Fund at Yale University, Office of Development, P.O. Box 2038, New Haven, CT 06521; or  Achievement Centers at 555 N.W. 4th Street, Delray Beach, FL 33444. 

Submitted by the family.

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