Nathaniel Ragland Troy was born on Valentine’s Day in 1939, in Monroe, Louisiana, the youngest of three boys, to Vera Nobes Troy and Richard Matthew Troy. He passed away on February 25, 2023, in Oaxaca City, Mexico, surrounded by his wife and three children. Nat was raised with his two brothers, Richard and Ralph, on Bayou DeSiard, where they and their friends passed the hot, humid months swimming, fishing and water skiing off the dock. Nat’s parents were bold liberals who spoke out against the injustices of Jim Crow South, arousing the ire of the local white citizen’s council and Ku Klux Klan. In 1956, a cross was burned in their yard when Nat was in his third year of high school. Nat and his two brothers carried on the family legacy of championing the causes for equality, fairness, and justice, particularly for traditionally disadvantaged groups. Nat attended Georgia Tucker Elementary and Neville High School. During his senior year at Neville, as captain of their tennis team, he led them to their first ever State Championship. He continued his education at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was an enthusiastic member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and the doting boyfriend of Connie Marie Wheeler. After receiving his undergraduate degree in 1961, he went on to attend Tulane Law School. A year later, on July 7, he married Connie, the love of his life. After law school, Nat, Connie, and their newborn Laura moved to Slidell, then a small town across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. There he ran a branch of his father’s growing insurance and mortgage banking business, Troy & Nichols. Within a few years, his father passed away, and he moved back to Monroe to help his older brother run the family business. In his first years as head of mortgage originations, Nat and his longtime friend and business partner Bob Cudd utilized the Section 235 program, created out of Lyndon B. Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ initiatives, to provide housing for a large portion of the black community in Monroe that lacked adequate housing. When his older brother Ralph stepped down in 1972 to run for mayor, Nat became president of Troy & Nichols. Over the following 12 years, the company grew to 21 branches across 7 states. Even with this rapid growth, the employees of Troy & Nichols remained an extended family, many of whom became some of his best friends outside of work. In his early adult years, Nat loved to ride dirt bikes in the hills of northern Louisiana with his son Nat Jr., his good friend Bob Curry, and Bob’s son Kevin. He continued his passion for tennis. In 1972, he and several friends started the Chauvin Racquet Club, Monroe’s first tennis club. Nat was never a big hunter, but he wanted his young son Nat to experience this quintessential Louisiana tradition. He enlisted his childhood friend Kenny Cagle to take the two of them out on hunting trips for duck, dove, and deer. Nat was one man with many lives. When a downtown fire destroyed the Troy & Nichols building, Nat and his partners had to find a new location. They settled on an abandoned restaurant and nightclub on the north end of town. The nightclub was turned into office space, and at Nat’s insistence, the restaurant was turned into the Monroe Steakhouse; thus began this new chapter of his life, propelled by a passion for good food and dedication to community. Around the same time, he and his college friend Beau opened a second steakhouse in Maui, Hawaii, called the Makawao Steak House. Later, he and Beau and his friend Bob opened two more steakhouse concepts in New Orleans and Lafayette, Louisiana. A 1972 ski trip to Taos, New Mexico inspired yet another life. It began with family ski holidays, summers, and Nat’s annual ‘birth weeks’ with friends from all over the country. Towards the end of the summer in 1988, Nat, Connie and their son decided to make Taos their permanent home. Prior to making the move west, Nat and Connie developed many wonderful friendships through their stays at the St. Bernard and Edelweiss Hotel. One such friend was Tim Harter, who cooked burgers on the Saint Bernard deck during the ski season. Nat later became partners with Tim and his wife Laurie, opening the Stray Dog Cantina in the Taos Ski Valley. That restaurant became a fast success, so they bought the Chili Connection down valley and turned it into the Old Blinking Light (OBL). In 2006, Nat opened a second OBL in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, which is still in operation. Until a month ago, its longtime general manager was Earl Gonzales, a Taoseño who at 13 started as a busser for the OBL in Taos. Nat Jr. will carry on his father’s legacy with Lambert’s of Taos and the OBL in Highlands Ranch. In the early Taos years, Nat got a calling to become a cowboy with Connie, his favorite cowgirl. They would ride their horses deep into the Carson National Forest, one of their favorite rides being Valle Vidal. Nat became quite the two stepper during these cowboy years. In the 80’s Nat and Connie hosted barn dances at their barn, Casa de Caballos. They were free and open to the public. Every part of the community was welcome and came to dance under the chandelier in the hay barn, warm up by the bonfire and to fill their cups with beer: the Hispanics, the Anglos, the Taos Pueblo, the Diné, the cowboys, the artists, and the hippies. Also, during these Taos years Nat became a golfer which he swore he would never do because it was for old boring people. In the late 90’s, Nat and Connie went on the search for the perfect beach house, which ultimately led to many joyful years with children, grandchildren, and friends at Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Cabo. Nat was a generous soul, a stoic who wore his heart on his sleeve. He practiced virtue at whatever cost. He was a voracious reader, specifically loving mysteries and biographies. He was obsessed with Abba and Mamma Mia in the most endearing way. In his younger years, Nat lived for adventure and travel with his friends and family but eventually came to appreciate the simplest gifts of life; visits and phone calls from his children and grandchildren, sitting on his portal watching the magic of a Taos sunset with Connie and a martini with blue cheese olives, and his beloved Australian Shepherd, Frankie (aka Frank Sinatra). Nat was first and foremost a husband, father, and grandfather. Until his last days, he was still editing college essays, career advising, but mostly teaching his grandchildren how to lead with their hearts. Nat is survived by his loving wife Connie Troy, his 3 children who worshiped the ground he walked on: Laura Kaplan (Mike), Vee Yaccino, and Nat Troy Jr., his 7 grandchildren, Emma, Eli, Stella, Ava, Zoe, Laura, and Beau and his beloved puppy, Frankie. He was preceded in death by his mom, Vera, his dad, Richard, and his brothers Dick and Ralph. We ask that in lieu of flowers you send donations to one or both of the following local nonprofits or to a charity of your choice in honor of his memory: Taos Immigrant Allies/Sin Fronteras (TIA/SFNM is a local nonprofit fiscally sponsored by B’nai Shalom Havurah, a Jewish 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has been active in Taos since the early 1980’s.) You may send a check to: Taos Immigrant Allies, P.O. Box 2287, Taos, New Mexico, 87571. You may also submit a donation online at the following URL: www.taosimmigrantallies.org. Veterans Off-Grid (Veterans Off-Grid is a 501c3 non-profit organization restoring a sense of purpose, community, sustainability, and peace to veterans in need.) You may send a check to Veterans Off-Grid, PO Box 133, Carson, NM 87517. You may also submit a donation online at the following URL: www.veteransoffgrid.org
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It was a pleasure knowing Nat, what a loss to his family and close friends. He will be missed by all who knew him… from Louisiana to New Mexico.
What an immense pleasure it was to get to know and spend time with Nat and his family when my horses stayed with Connie and Nat at Casa de Caballos. There were omnipresent grandchildren, Aussie Shepards and nice people.
Nat’s accomplishments are astonishing, to read of-as he never mentioned them, that was the kind of gentleman that he was. Rest well Nat, you are and will be missed, and thank you.
I first met Nat, Sr. in the fall of 1991 when I was a freshman at Trinity College where his son Nat, Jr. lived in my freshman dorm. Nat, Jr. and I became very close friends (he was my best man and Nat, Sr. and Connie also honored us as our guests as well). Over the many years I have known the Troy family ,they were always kind and gracious hosts to me (and later my wife and me) on my many visits to Taos. I have particularly fond memories of sitting out on the portal with Nat, Sr. and Jr. enjoying a scotch, a cigar, the glorious sunsets, and the wonderful conversations.
Nat will be sorely missed by us. Our thoughts are with Connie, Nat, Jr., Laura, and Vee as well as the rest of the Troy family.
Love and miss you everyday Big Nat. Thank you for all you have done for us. You are my hero.
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