Memories of Nancy Elizabeth Godfrey 1942-2012
My fifty year friendship with Nancy began at Purdue. In I962, James Apple and I moved into the Married Student Housing at Purdue and our apartment was in a building at a right-angle to Nancy & Maurice’s building. James, Nancy & Maurice all graduated from Salem High School in 1960, so, of course, we visited back and forth. Nancy was pregnant with Heather in 1963 and the hospital was across West Lafayette over to downtown Lafayette—a long distant through heavy traffic. Since James and I had a nice new four-door Impala, it was decided that we would drive Nancy to the hospital. And—we did, with Maurice following in their Volkswagen Bug. We were very nervous, but excited. Nancy was calm. And, we made it safely to the hospital in plenty of time for the delivery. I have always considered it an honor that we drove Nancy to the hospital for Heather’s arrival. Many years passed—and Nancy & Maurice joined SPC. Eventually, I began coming to the Brown Bag discussion group and that was where I had the joy of being with Nancy again. It was fun to renew our friendship—-and share some laughs about that very special day and our good times at Purdue.
Nancy was a faithful member of Salem Presbyterian Church, serving on the Session and the Library Committee, preparing the Communion Elements, decorating the church at Christmas, hosting the Progressive Dinners at Christmas, hosting other gatherings in her home, cooking delicious dishes for our church family dinners, baking cookies and cakes for Brown Bag, actively participating in Brown Bag and often suggesting books for us to read and discuss, attending Worship on Sunday and Sunday School—finding meaning in all that was said and done. She led with her heart and her presence, a model of a Christian gentlewoman.
Nancy belonged to several women’s groups. She loved the closeness and connections, the quiet, private world of friendship and sisterhood. One day in 2007, in the hallway here at SPC Sarah asked me if I would enjoy joining Book Club. Nancy was standing there, too, and she chimed in to ask me to join, which I was delighted to do. Nancy was a mother hen of tender care, driving me to several meetings and making sure I was comfortable and a part of things. I liked Nancy’s thoughtful questions and comments about books. She loved to read and she loved poetry. Her open mind enjoyed a variety of genres and her comments were full of insight. She often suggested new books to read; hers was an inquiring mind, always eager to learn.
I helped sponsor Nancy as a member of a women’s group called PEO, a national women’s philanthrophical and educational organization which supports education for women through a variety of national and international scholarships and its ownership of Cottey College. As her sponsor for our local chapter, DB– “Dearly Beloved”– I escorted her to her first meetings to make sure she felt welcome and comfortable. That wasn’t an issue since she knew almost everyone. It warmed my heart that several times she told me how much she enjoyed this group and how important the organization was to her, especially its ideals of creating sisterhood through study, writing, reading, art, books, conversation, and developing our talents.
For a number of years, Nancy has been a part of my life through Brown Bag weekly dinners, church dinners, and monthly games dinners at Jean Wilson’s home. She was my go-to person for advice on cooking and housekeeping—and what to read next. Among my favorite memories are Sunday mornings after church, when the late coffee drinkers would linger until finally Nancy said it was time to go eat. Then there was a discussion about where to go, usually some wrangling, before Maurice would say, “Now, mother, decide.” And, Nancy would name the place. Every once in a while I would get lucky—because we would decide to order-in pizza and eat it in the Parlor. Nancy was not too crazy about pizza, but Maurice liked it, so she liked it.
Nancy was everything that I admire in a woman: a loving wife, a tender mother and grandmother, a quiet and effective supporter of her church, a member of worthy women’s groups that did good deeds in the community, a true and gracious friend, a reader, a lover of poetry, a needlewoman, a wonderful cook, and a welcoming homemaker. I loved her gentle and gracious character, her calm demeanor, her soft chuckle.
In honor of Nancy’s life, I want to read a poem that I think touches on the essence of who she was and what she loved. [The first line is not true….]
“Poetry and the Farmer”
“I don’t like poetry”
Said the husband to the wife…
“I’ve no time for such things
I live a farmers life”
but the wife said ―”Dear husband,
you live a poets poem
’do you not reap the harvest
of seeds by which you’ve sown?
I’ve seen you bow your head in thanks
when God answered prayers for rain
I’ve seen your eyes shine with pride
with every baby calf you name”
“I guess poetry’s okay” he said
as he kissed that farmers wife
and silently he thanked the Lord
she saw poetry in their life…
Nancy’s life was a poem of love and gentle graciousness.