Cover photo for Nancy  Lynn Petersen's Obituary
1943 Nancy 2017

Nancy Lynn Petersen

January 31, 1943 — October 19, 2017

Nancy Lynn Petersen, 74, a resident of Onancock, VA, died in Sentara Norfolk General ER on October 19, 2017. She had been sick for several weeks with colitis which led to sepsis. Memorials and celebrations of her life will be held Monday, November 13, 2017, at 3:30PM at the Historic Onancock School, 6 College Ave., Onancock, Virginia, and Sunday, December 3, 2017, at the Kimberton Arts Building, 2208 Kimberton Rd., Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

Nancy was born and raised in and around Pittsburgh, PA, and before moving to Virginia, lived for years in Chester County, PA. She graduated from Muskingum College, Concord, OH, in 1961. Nancy was preceded in death by her parents, Henry S. Petersen and Emelyn E. Hilty Petersen. She is survived by her dear cousins, Jean Stanley of Haines City, FL, Merial Price of West Farmington, OH, Patti Stanley of Seffner, FL, James Hilty of Murphy, NC, and Kim Overly of Ohio. She had one sibling, John H. Petersen of Treasure Island, FL.

Nancy visited the Eastern Shore for many years and moved permanently to Onancock in early 2011. Although on the Shore for only a few years, she immersed herself in many of the wonderful activities for which the Shore is distinct and developed many strong friendships. As many friends said, "She had a strong presence!"

Being a voracious reader and believer in public libraries, Nancy worked with the Friends of the Accomac Library. As a board member she most recently handled their publicity and enlisted speakers for their presentations. She was adamant that Accomack County needed a larger facility.

She was an avid bird watcher since she was young - carrying her binoculars with her at all times and always watching the skies and trees for her favorites and the seldom seen. Joining the ES Bird Club was a natural and she always looked forward to hearing what her birding compatriots had spotted, quickly going out to see for herself! A logical companion interest to birding was to become a Master Naturalist. After obtaining her certification, Nancy joined her fellow naturalists to many of the Shore's spectacular marshlands to help keep paths opened, restore the natural vegetation and, of course, watch the birds who are so dependent on the health of these areas.

Throughout Nancy's many interests, there were strong themes that were reflected in the organizations to which she belonged and participated - the environment and politics. The Academy for Lifetime Learning provided a venue for her to use her deep knowledge of the American political scene, her keen observations and amazing memory for key players and the details surrounding current issues. She, for several years, led the discussions in the "What In The World" class and actively attended similar discussion forums. She was on the ALL board and recently served as its co-chair. In a less formal setting, she was a regular attendant at the monthly Drinking Liberally gatherings where her quick wit and gentle manner garnered many friends.

Nancy believed that as a citizen of a community, state and country she had an obligation to be informed, active and compassionate. And, she found that the Democratic Party most embodied the principals she held dear. She was the secretary/treasurer of the Accomack County Democratic Party, a tireless campaigner, and worked at the polls on election days.

The foundation for her involvement in her new community on the Eastern Shore was laid during her years in the Philadelphia area beginning with her involvement with the South Street Renaissance in the 60's and early 70's, the first Earth Day, the bicentennial Wagon Train, work with Legal Aide and on through to her must recent career as a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. For over 2 decades she covered the environment and politics in Chester County. One of her editors, Jim Asher, is quoted as saying, "She was a superior person - true to the truth and full of a brand of independence that she expressed in everything she did." Another said she was "modest and cheerful, smartly subversive, generous to colleagues and totally plugged into the community she covered." Her relationships with fellow reporters were equally strong - she enjoyed their points of view, shared sources, and was always available when help was needed. Her colleague, Sandy Bauers, illustrated this by saying, "Younger interns who worked with her regarded her as the doyenne of the bureau."

With the absence of her strong and joyous presence here on the Shore, Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio, there is an enormous void. She was a loyal friend to many ... we will miss you kiddo!

In lieu of flowers, donations in her name may be sent to Academy for Lifetime Learning Scholarship Fund c/o MaryKay Mulligan, 1 Lee Street, Onancock, VA 23417 or Accomack County Democratic Committee, P.O. Box 99, Onley, VA 23418.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

Arrangements were made by Doughty Funeral Home in Exmore, Virginia.

Celebration of Life Service

Historic Onancock School
  • Email Details
  • 6 College Avenue
    Onancock, VA 23417

Celebration of Life Service

Kimberton Arts Building
  • Email Details
  • 2208 Kimberton Road
    Phoenixville, PA 19460

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