If you’ve ever eaten at a Waffle House, you can thank Roswell architect Clifford Nahser for the boxy, ubiquitous yellow building.
Co-founder Joe Rogers Sr. asked him to help design new restaurants from the prototype diner he opened in Avondale Estates in 1955. Mr. Nahser worked on the blueprint for one of the earlier units, then went on to help design hundreds more as the restaurant chain grew.
Tweaked and updated a little over the years, the same basic plan was used for Waffle Houses in 28 states, said his brother Donald Nahser of Alpharetta.
“He used to say, ‘Anybody who’s ever traveled through the South by car has been in one of my buildings,’ ” his brother said.
Mr. Nahser would draw plans in his basement office when he wasn’t working at his real job as architect for the Atlanta Public School System. The color scheme became part of the company brand.
“He wanted to make it so that when you saw it, you knew what it was,” said Marianne Tolbert Wade Nahser of Roswell, his wife of 58 years.
Clifford A. Nahser, 82, died Monday at North Fulton Hospital of heart failure. A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Roswell. The Roswell Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Mr. Nahser was an Atlanta original, said his brother. He attended its public schools, went to college in the city, and then worked with the school system supervising new construction and renovations on some of the same schools he attended as a boy.
After graduating from high school, Mr. Nahser joined the U.S. Navy during World War II, serving on the USS Oklahoma City. Following his tour of duty, he returned to Atlanta and attended Georgia Tech on the GI Bill.
One day while returning home from classes, the architecture major happened to be on the same bus as Marianne, who worked at the U.S. Veterans Administration regional office. The bus was so crowded Mr. Nahser had to stand, his arms laden with books. Marianne had a seat right in front of him.
“I asked him if he wanted me to hold his books, and he did. I wasn’t flirting, I just wanted to help him out,” Mrs. Nahser remembered.
The act of kindness made quite an impression on the Tech student. He tracked down Marianne through a friend and made a first date for a movie at the Fox Theatre. The Nahsers married in 1952 just after Mr. Nahser graduated with a bachelor of architecture degree.
Mr. Nahser worked for an Atlanta architecture firm for several years, then for 26 years as architect with the Atlanta Public School System, where he oversaw construction.
He also became an early expert in the installation of AstroTurf when it was added at one of the high school stadiums. He knew enough about it that Georgia Tech officials called for advice when it was originally installed at Grant Field in 1971, his brother said.
Following retirement in 1988, Mr. Nahser opened a private architecture practice in Roswell, mainly to continue his Waffle House work, said his brother. He stayed active with the American Institute of Architects and other professional and civic organizations.
When they had time, the Nahsers loved to travel, and they were always on the lookout for prominent architecture. They also enjoyed sailing on Lake Lanier.
“It was the happiest times he had,” Mrs. Nahser said of adventures on their 25-foot Catalina. “Sailing is a wonderful way to get out on the lake, if the wind is blowing. Many times, we would just sit not going anywhere, just waiting for the wind.”
Other survivors include a son, Clifford Wade Nahser of Roswell; another brother, Phillip J. Nahser of Burlington, N.C.; and a granddaughter.
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