June 26, 1930 — July 14, 2014
On July 14, 2014, in Sacramento, Nancy Jane Fife succumbed to cancer after many years battling health issues. She was a 12-year resident of Davis. Her last days were supported by Sutter Hospice and spent among family, friends and her cat, Boomer. After 58 years of marriage, she preceded her husband Don Fife in death by a mere 16 hours.
Nancy was born June 26, 1930, in the close-knit community of West Lafayette, Ind., to Hazel Baker Harriman and Glenn Harriman where she was raised with her older sister, Mary Anne (Tucker) Harriman (deceased), and many extended family members within easy reach. From a young age, Nancy was infused with the idea that community service was a privilege, not a burden. As a child of the Great Depression, she observed her parents feeding others from their garden and her uncle, a rural doctor, taking payments in any form that a patient might be able to give.
Her preparatory schooling led her to enter Purdue University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in speech correction and undertaking graduate studies in speech therapy. At Purdue, she was a member of the Concert Choir, an elite touring vocal ensemble, as well as several other service organizations. She met her future husband Don while they were both undergraduates and they were married May 30, 1956, after he returned from the Korean War.
After graduating, she taught for several years in the field of special education, focusing on speech and hearing disabilities in children. The couple moved from Indiana to Claremont, Calif., which they would call home for the next 18 years. Nancy’s three girls were born and raised there; her house was always the gathering place for the neighborhood kids.
During her time in California, she taught in several Southern California school districts, working with language disorders in children from preschool through junior high. She mentored other educators and was actively involved in community outreach programs. She was responsible for demonstrating and implementing several language programs in more than 40 classrooms.
After 17 years of teaching, she and Don moved to Las Vegas, where she continued her teaching career. It was there that she met Pat Schmitz, an assistant in her classroom. They would teach together for 18 years, becoming best friends, confidants and each other’s support.
After some years of retirement, Don and Nancy moved to Davis to be closer to family. Nancy dedicated her life to the education and advocacy of children with special needs. She loved teaching. Many will miss her bright smile, optimism, strength and grace as she traversed life.
She is survived by her daughters, Mauri (Michael) Anderson of Davis, Shelley (Glenn) Morrison of Maricopa, Ariz., and Linda Fife of Davis, as well as her grandson, Evan Don Janik of Davis.
Family and friends are invited to share in celebrating a life well-lived, Saturday, Aug. 9, at 2 p.m. at Stonegate Country Club, 919 Lake Blvd. in Davis.