Nancy Elliott Kennedy

photoSANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Nancy Elliott (Kidd) Kennedy died peacefully at her Quail Lodge home at the Valle Verde Retirement Community on Jan. 11, 2013. She was 97.

In her last months, she was cared for by her two daughters and the staffs of Quail Lodge and of Assisted Home Health and Hospice. Her family is grateful to all those who supported her with their kindness and high-quality care.

Nancy loved people, young and old. She had a gift for listening and for drawing others out with her focused interest and high spirits. She was a wonderful mother, grandmother and great-grandmother - the beloved matriarch of a far-flung clan. Nancy was whip-smart, a mental-math whiz, an avid reader, letter writer, world traveler. At 97, she still retained her youthful spark, a twinkle of humor and an infectious sense of fun. In her last days, she found great joy in small things: flowers on her windowsill, photographs of loved ones, TV sports, See's Candy, bacon. Twice during her final week she said, 'Let's have a party.'

Nancy Elliott Kidd was born in Eau Claire, Wis., on March 30, 1915, the only child of Laura Belle Elliott and Earle W. Kidd. She grew up in Eau Claire and in Owen, attended Kemper Hall, an Episcopal girls boarding school in Kenosha, Wis., then went on to Vassar College. It was 1932, during the Great Depression, and her favorite work-study job was playing bridge with faculty members for 25 cents an hour. After graduating from Vassar in 1936 with a major in chemistry, she worked as a research assistant at Yale Medical School. There she met her future husband, John Lyon Kennedy.

Nancy and John married in August 1938 and were together for 46 years. They moved from coast to coast - first to Palo Alto, Calif., where Nancy worked as a researcher in the pharmacology department at Stanford. Two years later, John accepted a teaching job at Tufts University and they moved to the Boston area. Nancy worked as a research assistant for the Tufts biology department. During World War II, they lived in Alexandria, Va., and in San Diego, Calif. When the War ended, Nancy and John returned to their jobs at Tufts.

When the family moved to Santa Monica, Calif., in 1950, Nancy focused on raising their three children, Jim, Marianna and Kate. In 1957, they moved cross-country again, to Princeton, N.J., where John chaired the psychology department at Princeton University. Nancy took a part-time job doing hand-scoring for SAT exams at Educational Testing Service. Within a few years, she had risen to assistant director of personnel,a job she loved. She managed her many roles with great aplomb - being a mother, having a high-pressure job, entertaining faculty and students as the wife of the department chair. Her family is convinced that in another era she could easily have been a CEO.

In 1969, Nancy and John returned to Santa Monica, where she was a busy, hands-on grandmother as well as a volunteer at Santa Monica Hospital and for Planned Parenthood.

One constant in the midst of many moves was a small cottage on Chebeague Island in Casco Bay, which Nancy and John bought in the mid-1960s and where they spent their summers together. Nancy treasured this place and its people. It was home.

Nancy was predeceased by her husband John in 1984; and by her son Jim Kennedy (Suzanne Abel) in 2005. She is survived by two daughters, Marianna Kennedy of Albuquerque, N.M., and Kate Kennedy (Nathanael Greene) of Cape Elizabeth. She leaves behind six grandchildren, Peter Kennedy, Alex Kennedy, Laura Williamson (Gregg), and their mother, Geraldine Kennedy, Katherine Ray, Justin Ray, and Rachel Greene; three step-grandchildren, Annie Burke (Geoffrey), Nathan Greene (Megan Hiller), and Marina Vidor; eight great-grands, Ally Kennedy, Katie Kennedy, Madeleine Williamson, Jack Williamson, Leah Burke, Eliza Burke, Caitlin Greene, and Hailey Greene; a niece, Elizabeth Kok, and nephew, Robert Kennedy; and three grandnieces, Jenny Skillman, Cindy Hinman, and Anne Crosby; as well as many many friends and admirers of all ages.

Her bravery and grace during difficult times and her clear-eyed captaining of her own life continue to inspire family and friends.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, in the theater of the Valle Verde Retirement Community in Santa Barbara. Next summer her ashes will be buried in the Chebeague Island Cemetery beside her husband and son.

In lieu of flowers please consider a donation in Nancy's memory to Planned Parenthood,
the Chebeague Island Library,
or a charity of your choice .