Nathan T. Garrett, Sr., NASBA’s first Black president, died on April 26 at the age of 91. A resident and longtime civic leader of Durham, NC, Garrett is regarded for breaking barriers and paving avenues of opportunity for minorities entering the accounting profession. 

Earning degrees from Yale University, Wayne State University and North Carolina Central University, Garrett gained valuable experience working under the tutelage of Richard H. Austin, the first Black CPA in Michigan to earn the designation. Garrett would later become the fifth Black CPA in the state of Michigan (and approximately the 63rd in the United States). He received his North Carolina certificate in 1964. 

Among Garrett’s proudest achievements upon returning to his home state, was opening the first Black-owned accounting firm in the state of North Carolina and mentoring aspiring CPAs, including fellow North Carolinian and NASBA Past Chair Walter C. Davenport, CPA. The two co-founded Garrett & Davenport, P.C., the largest and oldest minority-owned firm in North Carolina. The firm merged into Cherry, Bakaert & Holland in 1998.  

“Nathan blazed trails in his profession, and that has made it easier for others to walk. Nathan and I have been together since 1974 (49 years). He has been my business partner, golf partner, mentor, friend, confidant, father figure, psychologist, psychiatrist, mental health therapist – whatever I needed him to be at that time. Nathan had several firsts in his professional life—first Black CPA in North Carolina, first Black to serve on the North Carolina State Board of CPA Examiners, and first Black board president of NASBA. He will be missed,” shared Davenport.

Governor James Martin appointed Garrett to the North Carolina Board of CPA Examiners in 1986 and 1989. During his Board tenure, Garrett served two three-year terms, and was a former secretary-treasurer. Garrett’s Board service led to him serving 25+ years on a variety of NASBA and AICPA committees. Throughout his career, he also practiced law for 20 years and taught accounting and law courses at area Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for 14 years. Garrett practiced as a CPA in North Carolina. He retired in 2004.  

In 2001, Garrett’s was named recipient of NASBA’s William H. Van Rensselaer Public Service Award honoring individuals for their contributions to the public accounting profession. He was honored by the NASBA Center for the Public Trust in 2008 as a Being a Difference Award recipient for his monumental work promoting ethical leadership and diversity. Additional honors include being named recipient of the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, and the Triangle Business Journal Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. He was also honored as a National Association of Black Accountants Legend Honoree and bestowed the title of trustee emeritus for his service on the Duke University Board of Trustees. 

A well-respected entrepreneur, author and community volunteer, Nathan Garrett’s contributions to the profession and legacy of pride, determination and perseverance will forever be remembered.

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