Nancy Schenk of Springfield, MA died on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at age 90 in the Nursing Center at Reeds Landing from complications related to dementia.
Born Oct. 18, 1930 in Lawrence, Michigan, Nancy was the only child of Elsie Carris and Donald Hunt. Most of her childhood was spent with her mother and grandparents, Esther “Dee Dee” Alden Carris and Clyde Carris, on their dairy farm. After high school in Dowagiac, Michigan (class of ‘47), Nancy studied Childhood Education at Western Michigan College, where she made mischief with friends at Spindler Hall that she remained close to all her life.
In 1951, Nancy married her high school sweetheart Edward J. Schenk. She then taught kindergarten and first grade in Battle Creek, Michigan while he served in the Korean War. Their first home together was in Evansville, Indiana where their four daughters were born and where Ed began his career in sales at National Cash Register (NCR). Ed’s work took the family to Kettering, Ohio and then to Wilbraham, Massachusetts and later with Nancy to Chester, NJ; Centerville, OH; and Smithtown, NY. When Ed retired in 1991, Ed and Nancy returned to Wilbraham where they had a house built according to plans Nancy adapted herself.
Nancy was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother, hosting family and friends on holidays well into her 80s. She was passionate about issues of social justice and was active in church wherever she and Ed lived. She also volunteered extensively at food pantries and community centers, taught Sunday School, led Brownie troops, tutored reading, was an early proponent of recycling in the 1960’s, and served on the first board of Open Pantry, Inc. in Springfield.
For the last 25 years of her life, Nancy resumed her active membership in the Wilbraham United Church, and was the first woman to chair the Governing Board, among many other roles there. She also volunteered regularly at the Community Survival Center in Indian Orchard and especially relished her participation in the Springfield chapter of Church Women United, where she was honored as “A Valiant Woman” in 2006.
Nancy loved traveling the world with Ed and their friends, corresponding with friends and former classmates, gardening, reading, C-SPAN, music, and the Red Sox. In 2010, Ed and Nancy moved to an independent apartment at Reeds Landing in Springfield. After Ed’s death in 2016, Nancy moved to Assisted Living and then, in the winter of 2018, to the Skilled Nursing Unit.
In addition to her husband, Nancy was predeceased by her cousin Eleanore Geissel and sister-in-law, Ellen Hetler. She leaves her daughters Linda Sullivan (Michael) of Longmeadow, MA; Susan O’Brien of Mt. Kisco, NY; Barbara Schenk (Keith Walker) of Springfield, MA; and Carol Schenk of New York, NY; grandchildren James Sullivan (Jennifer) of East Longmeadow, MA; Matthew Sullivan (Megan) of La Porte, IN; and Maggie O’Brien (Nina O’Connor) of Brooklyn, NY; and great-grandchildren, Quinn, Amelia and Nathan Sullivan as well as extended family members.
The family sends its deepest appreciation to the staff of the Nursing Center at Reeds Landing for their loving and exceptional care of Nancy over the past several years.
A private Memorial Service will be held at a later date. Wilbraham Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Wilbraham United Church, 500 Main Street, Wilbraham, MA 01095 or to the Community Survival Center, 240 Main Street, Indian Orchard, MA 01151.