Nancy Lee (Marshall) Buchanan, aged 89, died at her home in Greenfield on Sunday, Oct. 31, surrounded by her three daughters. Nancy was born in Boston on January 22, 1932, the daughter of Lillian Sadie (Benjamin) Marshall and Kenneth Witheril Marshall, and lived with extended family in Jamaica Plain for the first years of her life. Her family moved to North Wilmington, MA when she was in first grade, and she attended Wilmington schools, graduating from Wilmington High School in 1950. Her family spent almost every summer in Gloucester, MA. She had very happy memories of long days at the beach with her two brothers and a crowd of their friends.
Nancy graduated from Mass General School of Nursing in 1953. She married William R. Buchanan, Jr. that same year. In 1956, they moved to Greenfield where William practiced as a pediatrician for 38 years. He predeceased her four years ago, after 65 years of marriage.
Nancy was an active volunteer throughout her life. She was the chairperson of the UNICEF committee for years, coordinator of the annual Halloween Trick of Treat for UNICEF collection. She served several terms on the Greenfield School Committee, including as president, and she was an active member of the board of the Friends of the Greenfield Public Library for many years. She volunteered with the Experiment in International Living in Brattleboro, VT, both in locating families for students from around the world and in hosting them with her own family. Her family welcomed many students over the years, many becoming like family themselves.
She and Bill joined the All Souls Church, Unitarian Universalist, when they moved to Greenfield and were active members throughout their lives. Nancy taught Sunday School there while her children were young and was a member of the Board of Directors for many years.
Nancy’s children and their friends remember summers filled with creative projects that she devised. One year she got a yard full of kids to make Jackson Pollock paintings on huge canvases, another she oversaw a neighborhood circus which included tricks on the life-size rocking horse, Slats, that she and a friend had made.
Nancy started the Student Health Service at GCC in 1972 as an RN and built it into what became an important offering at the College for many years. She earned a degree in health education and became a Nurse Practioner through the UMass University Without Walls in 1977. She was Health Service Director at GCC until her retirement in 1996. She was active in the National American College Health Association throughout that time, serving as president of the Community College section for a number of years. Nancy served as an inspiration for many in their personal and professional lives.
Nancy and Bill were avid birders after they retired, and traveled widely to birdwatch, often with friends. Nancy had a gift for creating community; as a member of the All Souls Church, she and other mothers of young children made friendships that lasted their lifetimes. She was a founding member of a group of women birders who met every Monday morning, the Monday Morning Mavens; for years she hosted the Tuesday women who met on Wednesdays; she was in a book group for decades, and sometimes they even discussed the book; and for years a group of quilters met in her basement, which she had outfitted with multiple sewing machines and much more. She was a master of the 1/4 inch seam. Perhaps most importantly, Happy Hour began at 4pm daily and her door was always open, Scotch drinkers especially welcome.
Nancy is survived by three daughters, Jennifer Lawrence (and Melvin) of Greenfield, Anne Buchanan Weiss (and Kenneth) of South Deerfield, and Jane Buchanan of Greenfield, six grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. Her beloved little dog, Dawg, is wondering when she’s coming home. She also leaves several well-loved international students, Antonio (Tuco) Mitre, Lianella Akers, and Lidan Dearden, as well as dear friends who made up the core of her nightly Happy Hour to the very end.
At her request, Nancy was buried in the Riverside Woods Natural Cemetery in Gill in a private green burial followed by a memorial Happy Hour celebrating her life. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to All Souls Church, to the Friends of the Greenfield Public Library, or to Green Burial Massachusetts.
The family is deeply appreciative for the guidance of the caring nurses at Pioneer Valley Hospice and Palliative Care in keeping Nancy comfortable at home in her last weeks. Nancy was especially grateful to Dr. Richard Warner for his kindness and care, as is the family.
The family appreciates the Kostanski Funeral Home for assisting with arrangements and Joan Pillsbury whose devotion to green burial helped the family find the perfect place for both their parents to be buried together.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Kostanski Funeral Home. For condolences, please visit www.kostanskifuneralhome.com
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