Dec 26, 1933 - Feb 22, 2015Born in Sacramento on the day after Christmas, 1933, Nancy was the first born of Melva (Offenbach) and Bill Gwerder of Walnut Grove, CA. She attended Beaver Union Elementary, Dominican High School in San Raphael, and graduated from Courtland High, where she earned the Bank of America Achievement Award for Science and Mathematics. Arriving at UC Berkeley in a new 1951 Ford convertible, she had no problem getting dates. A member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, and an excellent student, she earned a teaching certificate in four years rather than the usual five. In 1955, eschewing farm life, she married a city-slicker from Oakland named Pete Newell (not the basketball coach, the other one). After college, Nancy taught second grade to adoring children who called her "Mrs. Noodle."
In 1957 she unexpectedly came down with twins, Bill and Tom, followed shortly thereafter by John and Debbie. In 1964, she and Pete left everything and everyone they knew to move to Rhode Island, probably the gutsiest thing Nancy ever did. This began a lifetime of moves. She counted 18 addresses as home during her 60-year marriage. Nancy made friends quickly and easily wherever they lived. Her warmth and friendliness attracted people, who, when they got to know her, recognized her uniquely sincere interest in them. She was always thinking about what others needed and would benefit from, rather than about herself.
In addition to doing volunteer work wherever she lived, Nancy served as President of the Homeowners Association of the Kiahuna Plantation on the island of Kauai for an unprecedented three terms, one of which involved the rebuilding of the project after the destruction wrought by Hurricane Iniki in 1992.
She was a talented decorator and designer, overseeing the complete remodeling of 2 houses, and the construction of 3 more. In earlier days, she enjoyed water skiing, tennis, golf and downhill skiing, while gardening, reading and needlepoint were rewarding avocations.
Nancy visited most of the states, and traveled to more than 30 countries on trips whose details she lovingly planned herself. But, her greatest joy in life, in addition to lively conversations with her friends, was her family. Nancy engineered two family reunions in a single summer. She knew, and kept track of, countless cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, etc. and was one of the few people who knew relationships so well she could tell you who was a second cousin and who was a first cousin once removed!
She is remembered most for her warm smile, her infectious laugh, her positive attitude, her ability to always see the good in people and most of all her abundance of love. She was a mother-in-law who was both adored and revered by her son- and daughters-in-law!
For the past 10 years Nancy fought hand-to-hand combat with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), a debilitating neurological disease. While nobody beats PSP, her fighting spirit kept it at bay longer than most.
Nancy loved to fly, both as a passenger and as a pilot, although she decided against soloing when she realized "there was no shoulder to pull off to." Now, she has taken off on her last flight, leaving this earth on February 22, 2015, to join with her beloved family and friends, including her cherished grandson Will, who she lost this past year.
She leaves her sisters, Diane Siegel (Jackson, WY) and Merrilee Dowty (Dundee, OR); her husband Pete; her children Bill (Piedmont, CA), Tom (Los Angeles, CA), John (San Anselmo, CA) and Debbie (Rogers) (Granite Bay, CA); eight grandchildren: Robbie, Danny, Andrew, Kyle, Peter, Hunter, Grace and Jack; daughters-in-law Carla, Terry and Cheryl; and son-in-law Guy.
A funeral mass will be offered by Father Charles Gagan, SJ on March 3, 2015 at Oakland's Cathedral of Christ the Light, 2121 Harrison Street, Oakland at 9:30 am, followed by a private burial. A Celebration of Life is planned for after Easter. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to: CurePSP (The Nancy Newell Fund), 30 E. Padonia Rd., Suite 201, Timonium, MD 21093. - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sfgate/obituary.aspx?n=nancy-newell&pid=174245039&eid=sp_shareobit#sthash.oTWHRJt4.dpuf