And Chris is not exaggerating in his portrayal of her tenacity and commitment. Nancy had an extreme dedication to excellence. As copy editor on Another Work is Possible, Nancy bent over backwards for us when things went awry in the production process. She was obsessed with getting things just right. In the midst of the production collaboration, there was a mix-up after copy editing that potentially compromised some areas of the text, but there was no way of knowing where without re-reading the whole thing. Nancy had already set aside a bunch of time to do this copy edit for us, and when she learned her work had potentially been compromised, she wouldn’t let it go.
The mistake had absolutely nothing to do with Nancy, but she refused to put her name on work she didn’t feel 100% confident in. Nancy pleaded with me to let her go through it again to make sure all was OK. I was stunned at her ownership of her role on the project. She was not one to pass the buck.
And she’s always been a tremendous encouragement to me. Last year, after I had received some public criticism, Nancy made sure to email me to “express solidarity.” She shared similar experiences with public reproach and commended me to continue on my course unabated. It was totally unnecessary for her to do this with all she had going on in her life, and it was totally Nancy.
Over the past few years, my friendship with Nancy grew. We’d exchange occasional letters and phone calls to discuss our current projects and the status of her cancer treatments, and it always resulted in mutual encouragement. Nancy refused to be a victim – not even cancer was a good enough excuse to give up doing her best. The last note in the aforementioned email exchange still sums up my thoughts about who Nancy was:
“I am always heartened to hear of your tenacity as you take this thing head on. Life for many seems hard enough as it is these days, but your attitude is one we all need to learn from. Thank you, Nancy. Thank you for reaching out. For encouraging. And for setting the bar so high.”
Nancy was an inspiration.