Nancy was my first real girlfriend. We went "steady" in the eighth grade while we attended E.A. Hall. She was a cheerleader and I played on the basketball team and that started my flirting with the cute pom pom girl with the long slender legs and beautiful long hair. It was a perfect first romance with a wonderful young lady. I also got to meet and hang out with her two best friends Nancy Ashcraft and Sharon Whaley who were her life-long friends.
I remember giving her my ring which she wore around her neck. The funny story about all of that is that I didn't have a ring and I borrowed one from Fred Sugidono. Nancy was such a sweetheart that she decided to surpise me and have my intials put on it! Ha. I had to tell Fred and of course pay him for it. I was a little embarassed about the whole thing but she just laughed. I can remember dancing at the "YMCA" dance with Nancy in her "mohair" sweater, smelling her Shalimar perfume and listening to "Moon River" as we did the box step that I had just learned at 8th grade PE. Our romance lasted until the summer before our freshman year. Like many other freshman boys I got dumped for an upperclassman. Ha.
I got to date Nancy once more during my sophomore year. I remember double dating with Dave Mercer and Sandy Arnce and we went to the Starlite drive in! I was pretty happy that I was with my first love and cuddling in back seat brought back fond memories! Unfortunately, that was my last date with Nancy as she left WUHS shortly after that.
Well, the romance doesn't end there...... I missed the 20th class reunion but I talked to friends who attended and of course I asked about Nancy. She was there and they said she looked beautiful. I called her and it was like we were 13 years old again and we talked about our lives for a very long time. I asked her out for a date and I drove down from Reno, Nevada to her home in Pleasanton and we went on our a date in San Francisco. Wow. I was pretty giddy once again. Yes. I kissed her while standing on the pier looking out upon the beautiful San Francisco Bay. It was that special connection and thrill I remembered as a young boy with his first love many many years prior.
The romance ended there as I was transferred to Las Vegas to open a new division for our company but our friendship flourished right up to her unfortunate death. We became best friends and she give me guidance, advice and comfort on issues about life and I hope I did the same for her. It was a joy to be her friend and her friendship benefited me throughout the rest of my life. What a dear friend.
Before she passed on we talked one last time. She told me she was prepared for the inevitable. She said, " God has blessed me with my wonderful children and grandchildren and my life has been fulfiling and rewarding for me. I'm ready to meet my Maker." She shared her faith and her love of God and she communicated to me a "peace" that is hard to explain. She felt she had been given a very full life and her work was done on earth. I can't explain how wonderful it was to hear her last words. She was trying to comfort me and offered me words of inspiration and hope instead of me comforting her.
My first "romance" turned into a life-long friend that I will never forgot. Thank you Nancy for the precious love you shared with me and for the strength and courage you gave me when I should have been doing the same for you. I am a much better man for knowing you. Our young romance was perfect. Thank you. Billy
Bill's remembrance of Nancy is very moving, I've read it several times and have thought about Nancy. I remember her mostly from our Junior High years. She was active as a cheerleader, popular with her classmates and was Student Body Secretary as a 7th grader, which was very impressive. I hung out with one of her girlfriends in the 7th grade and Nancy was a sweet lady. She was fun to be around and gone too soon.
Nancy Ashcraft (Herman)
I met Nancy the first day of 5th grade at T.S. Macquiddy School--she'd transferred over from another school, and our teacher introduced "the new girl." I was really ticked that there was going to be another Nancy in my classroom. But that didn't last long--Nancy, Sharon Whaley and I became best friends that year. We belonged to the same Girl Scout troop, rode our bikes all over Watsonville together, and formed the Dare Devil's Mystery Club, where we crept around people's back yards to "solve mysteries" and generally make pests of ourselves. We loved going to Nancy's big, beautiful home after school and visiting with her older sisters and their friends (translate: older boys). Since we considered Nancy "the rich kid", Sharon and I could hardly wait to ride our bikes to her house every Christmas morning to see all her loot! And we sometimes got invited to the family cabin at Ben Lomand summers--a real treat.
But the best part of being Nancy's friend was her grace, humor, and genuine caring, even as a young girl. As we got older and moved through junior high and high school, we all remained close friends, even though new friends and school activities expanded our lives. We still walked to school together, had frequent sleepovers, endured the trauma of school dances together, were Rainbow Girls together, and double-dated when we had boyfriends.
The weekend before we started high school, the three of us went horseback riding in the Santa Cruz mountains. Even though we had a guide, all our horses suddenly took off as if on command and galloped uncontrollably back to the stable. We all fell off at one point or another--and we all shared the humiliation of cuts, bruises, and swollen lips on our first day as freshman.
Nancy married young and left high school, although she later got her diploma. Sharon and I both got married just a few years later, and little-by-little through the years, through starting families and moving to different cities, we lost touch. Still, I felt connected to Nancy, and it was no surprise that years later we found each other and attended our 20th high school reunion in Santa Cruz together. It was wonderful seeing her--she had become quite professional and sophisticated, and yet she was her same sweet, warm self.
In 1991 Sharon and I both ended up in Folsom, CA, and quickly resumed our close friendship. We heard that Nancy was quite ill, and visited her in the hospital in Pleasanton, where she was living. She spoke of our years growing up together and how much those years meant to her. Her grace and yes, her humor as she faced death was inspirational and comforting.
That was the last time Sharon and I saw her. We attended her beautiful memorial service in Walnut Grove in 1995, where we reunited with her mother and sisters, and met her three grown children.
Sharon and I remember and speak of Nancy often. We’re so grateful that we were able to see her in the hospital, reminisce about the good old days, and say goodbye. Just like all those years we were living in different cities, we still feel connected to our good friend.