We regret to announce the passing of Nancy Ann Gotwalt. “Miss Nancy,” as she was known to all, died peacefully at home after a brief illness.
She was born in Harrisburg, Pa., on May 23, 1927, to Mary Elizabeth and Lloyd G. Gotwalt. During her childhood she lived with her grandmother for a while before residing with her father and stepmother, Margaret “Peggy” Gotwalt. In their later years, Mr. and Mrs. Gotwalt spent many vacations on St. John, where Peggy did volunteer work for a local friend in her grocery store.
Nancy graduated from Resnick High School, Bridgeport, Conn., in 1945. Four years later, she received her bachelor of science degree from Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven. She began her professional career as an elementary teacher in grades K-6 in Fairfield, Conn., where she was employed from 1949-1959. As she worked, she continued her education at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she was awarded a master of arts degree in elementary school administration in 1952 and a professional diploma (sixth year) in curriculum and teaching in 1960. Her last position on the mainland was assistant professor of education at Upsala College, N.J., where she supervised student teachers and taught Methods courses from 1959-1969.
In 1969, Miss Nancy came to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, as principal of the Lutheran Parish School, an elementary institution with students from grades K-6. She liked to say afterwards: “I ran a tight ship.” In 1976, just several years after she took the helm, the school made headlines in the newspaper for having a “problem” of “too many students for the space available.” She was in charge of the school until 1981 and returned in 1990 for two more years. During her tenure and beyond, Nancy kept LPS faculty members in touch with each other because of her commitment to mailing out annual newsletter updates detailing each teacher’s family events.
In the gap between her two stints at LPS, 1982 to 1989, Miss Gotwalt worked for several years in the USVI Education Department. She first worked as administrative assistant to the director of ESEA Title IV, then in the office of the deputy commissioner of Curriculum and Instruction.
Miss Nancy loved living in the Virgin Islands. She made St. Thomas her home and never wanted to visit the mainland in winter. At first she lived in the home of a friend, Carmen Jensen. After Carmen died, she moved to Sapphire Village Condominiums, where she was close to the sea and enjoyed watching boats go in and out of the marina. She loved sending cards for every occasion, doing word puzzles, reading mystery novels — staying occupied.
For her retirement was not idleness. She was always a faithful churchgoer at Frederick Evangelical Lutheran Church in St. Thomas and later on at Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church in St. John. She found work to do at each one. Her ministry was helping people and when she didn’t find a project, a project found her. She focused especially on children or adults who had devoted their lives to serving God. It mattered not whether they belonged to her denomination or a different one. In her interactions with others she could occasionally be sharp, but never held a grudge, was always reconciliatory. She tried to live as she felt God would have wished.
Left to remember her fondly are her godchildren, Dawn Brezina, Keith Martin, Daniel, Annika and Samuel Belmar, Stephen Parks, Marcus, Marilee and Nancianne Brown, and Kenneth White; two Lutheran Church families, many former teachers and students of Lutheran Parish School, friends at Sapphire Village Condominiums, including Carol, Steve and Georgeann; special friends, Pastor Lawrence and JoAnn Baietti, Pastor Carlyle Sampson, Pastor Merle Malone, Bernice Heyliger, Nora Williams, Helen Browne, Vilma Hugh, Nedia Sweet Wellington, Margaret Loughrain, Erik Jensen, Beverly Biziewski, Jan Swenson, attorney Karl Percell and Judge Carolyn Hermon-Percell, Yvonne Wells, Mavis Brady, Cheryl Whitaker, Rosa Samuel, Ruth Frett, Shirley Cadet, Carle Birch, Delphine Lewis, Elise Warner, Janet Burton and many others.
Cremation was under the care of Dan Hurley Funeral Home of St. Thomas.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, Nov. 20, at 10 a.m. at the Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cruz Bay. In lieu of flowers, please send memorial gifts to Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church, P.O. Box 1359, St. John, USVI 00831.
Attendees are kindly asked to observe all COVID-19 protocols, especially wearing face masks.