Nancy was born and raised in Columbia, Missouri, the daughter of a college professor and went on to Radcliffe College, graduating n 1961.
Nancy was invited to join Phi Beta Kappa in her junior year at Radcliffe. Upon graduation, she accepted Radcliffe President Mary Bunting’s offer to tour the country for a year with classmate Lucy Tuchman, daughter of the historian Barbara Tuchman, extolling the virtues of Radcliffe to high school girls.
She then studied for her master’s degree and Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley.
Nancy moved back east in 1971, marrying Jim, town supervisor since 2008, and taking up residence in Manhattan.
Nancy was a very active co-chair of the literary committee of the National Arts Club for many years.
In 1976, the Dougherty’s bought the John Tuthill house, built in 1852, using it as a weekend getaway until 2001 when they moved here permanently.
Nancy was a film critic and a writer of biographies. She was honored by Pen America in 1987 with the Pen Girard Award for best non-fiction work by a previously unpublished female author.
On Shelter Island, in addition to spending glorious days writing, reading, swimming and playing tennis, Nancy was very active with local literary groups and in environmental issues, serving for many years on the Mashomack Preserve Board of Trustees.
Nancy is survived by her husband, Jim; brother Jack and sister-in-law Linda of Hawaii; niece Sarah; Jim’s nephew Terrence and her four wonderful caregivers and loving friends of the past seven years, Germaine, Lita, Maka and Tamar.
There will be a private family service and a memorial celebration of Nancy’s life planned for her birthday, June 30.
In lieu of the flowers, donations may be made to the MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire, where Nancy was a writer in residence, to the Mashomack Preserve or to the Alzheimer’s Foundation.
Nancy Decker Dougherty passed away peacefully on February 6, 2013 at her home on Tuthill’s Hill after a courageous 13-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease.