Nancy Kingsley died peacefully at the age of 89, just weeks before her 90th birthday, at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital on August 4, 2020, after a brief illness.
Nancy was the matriarch of her family, but gathered many others into her circle of love, and was a mentor, supporter, and friend to many. It was impossible not to respond to her charm and passion for human interaction. Her love of humanity was evident in the many ways she provided a warm welcome and home to family and friends visiting her on her beloved Martha’s Vineyard. She loved entertaining guests, and it was always done with flair, even if a simple martini on her deck. Her history on the Island goes back to her college days, when one summer she took a job as a detail painter for Van Riper Ship Model Builders. She also waitressed at the Mansion House. Nancy met Fred that summer at the laundromat on State Road, now a bicycle shop, while Fred did the laundry for St. Pierre School of Sport where he was the waterfront director.
Nancy was born on August 23, 1930, in Bristol, Conn., to Alice and Eugene Marchand. Her father was an engineer, and her mother worked at the local hospital. She attended her freshman year of college in Ohio, but when her father died, she moved back to Connecticut and worked for a year at a florist shop in West Hartford, to save money for art school. She saw an ad in a magazine for Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Art’s six-week summer sculpture workshop at Tanglewood. While at Tanglewood, she received a scholarship to attend the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in that fall of 1950, and graduated from there in 1954 with high honors.
She opened a pottery studio in Bristol, Conn., and she and Fred married in 1954, later moving to Simsbury, Conn., to raise their family. Nancy also received a BFA from the University of Hartford in 1979. In between caring for four children, she assisted in art therapy workshops at the Institute for Living in Hartford, Conn., and was an interior decorator and space planner at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, as well as a curator of its large art collection. In 1992, she and Fred moved permanently to Martha’s Vineyard, after spending many summers there with their family.
Nancy was adventurous, and loved to travel. She visited Russia, China, Egypt, and Africa, and visited Europe many times, as well as rafting on the Colorado River and exploring the Amazon River. She enjoyed meeting people from other lands, and worked with immigrants at Volunteers for Literacy for many years. She fell in love with Hawaii, and went there with her family often. On the Vineyard, Nancy became deeply involved with the Martha’s Vineyard Museum (Historical Society) and the Featherstone Center for the Arts, where she was a board member, mentor, patron, donor, and curator. She recently curated two well-received shows featuring the works of Stan Murphy. She began painting at the age of 68, and created many gorgeous paintings, which have been displayed in many local shows.
While Nancy had many interests and accomplishments, above all, her children and family were her pride and joy. They are eternally grateful for her guidance and wisdom on virtually any issue, including the importance of education, hard work, and saving for the future. Her patience and unconditional acceptance made her a magnet for drawing creativity from others. She had a knack for improvising activities for her children and grandchildren that they will always remember. She had a huge heart, a warm smile, and a talent for making friends everywhere she went. She was a model for how to live life fully, graciously, and beautifully. She will be greatly missed.
She was the beloved wife of the late Fred Kingsley, the adored mother of Rick and his wife Jeannie, Eve Kingsley, Anne and her husband Robert O’Donnell, John and his wife Amy, grandchildren Liana Trail (and Aaron), Rachel Billingham (and Chris), Sam Kingsley (and Katie), Adam and Sarah Kingsley, and great-grandson Logan Kingsley. She is also survived by her sister Betty Murphy, and several dear nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her brother, Gene Marchand.
A funeral service will be held at Saint Augustine’s Church in Vineyard Haven at 1pm on Monday, August 10, followed by a burial at the Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven. An outdoor reception will be hosted by the family at 3 pm at 41 Woodlawn Ave., Vineyard Haven.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Nancy’s memory can be made to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, at 151 Lagoon Pond Road, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568, or Featherstone Center for the Arts, at P.O. Box 1145, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.