A photo of Nancy Lee Snead Kelsch

Nancy Lee Snead Kelsch

July 11, 1934 - December 27, 2020

On December 27, 2020, Nancy Lee Snead Kelsch passed away peacefully at her home in Newark, DE. Her health had steadily declined over the years due to the cumulative effects of strokes she had suffered. She was born Nancy Lee Snead, the younger of two daughters (sister Jo Ann) to Edward and Ruby (née Davis) Snead in Wilmington, NC, July 11, 1934. 

Nancy’s father served as a Naval Commander in the years following World War II. His assignments, and later career in U.S. Customs, and North Carolina state politics, took the family to various places. Nancy especially loved the family’s time in Hawaii where she attended her junior and senior years at Roosevelt High School (first 2 yrs. – New Hanover H.S. Wilmington, NC). There she absorbed some native culture (never forgetting how to say “mele Kalikimaka” – “Merry Christmas”), and a little early Kingston Trio, who often sang on beaches there. Perhaps, not only her love of culture and language, but her love of movies also began in Hawaii, when in 1951, her then boyfriend photographer got her a picture of John Wayne arriving on the island to shoot Operation Pacific.

Moving around in her early years may have been the start of her life-long wanderlust. She resolved to visit all 50 states in the Union and one day to have visited all the continents (except perhaps Antarctica). Nancy could be described as a dreamer but also a doer. This dream of travel would be almost completely fulfilled in wonderful ways, owing in no little part to Nancy’s sanguine personality and iron will. Even with her disabilities, in later life, necessitating the use of a rollator walker, she visited both the Great Wall of China and the heights of Machu Picchu. She visited ALL 50 States and 4 continents.

Her young adulthood reveals another key element of Nancy’s life and character. Raised in a Christian home, as she came of age, she felt the need for more answers to the mystery of life. She looked into various faiths. But it was a sudden, irresistible attraction that started her going to the Roman Catholic Mass. While in Greensboro, NC, attending the Methodist, all women’s Greensboro College, she began receiving instruction in the Catholic Faith. And there, much to the chagrin of her Protestant parents, was received into the Church, April 10, 1954, at Our Lady of Grace Parish. She was zealous, as converts often are, and would later pour out the riches of Catholic tradition upon a large family.

Nancy’s finished school at the College of Charleston, where she became a loyal and enthusiastic Chi Omega sister. She indulged her creative spirit in classes on stage craft. She would draw upon that love of story and drama throughout her life. In 1956 Nancy earned a B.A. in English, with initial intentions of teaching English.

Her first job out of college involved moving to Augusta, GA to work at the Social Security Administration. This turn of events allowed her to meet Richard David Kelsch, who, himself had just moved to the area from Mandan, ND, for his first job as an engineer at the DuPont Company’s Savannah River Plant. They met at the Catholic singles group at Sacred Heart Parish in Augusta, GA. Both the Faith and destiny had brought them together. They married at Sacred Heart Church on June 1, 1957, and settled across the river in North Augusta, SC, to raise a family.

She had so much in common with her husband, Dave: a love of creating things, experiencing new places, music and song, being involved in the life of faith, traveling, and a love of family life. Their first child, Michael Anthony, was born in 1958. Finally, Nancy gave birth to their eighth child, Carl Louis, in December of 1974, the year after Dave was transferred to work in DuPont’s Louviers offices in Newark. They were part of St. John’s Holy Angels Parish in Newark and later joined the Regina Coeli Latin Mass Society at St. Patrick’s Church in Wilmington. Nancy embraced life as a Delawarean, making sure that the family got to know all the great historical and cultural sites of the region.

In 1973, Nancy felt the call, as many did, to join the prolife movement. She believed deeply in the dignity of the preborn and wanted to help mothers in need and educate the public. She worked many years with Delaware Right to Life, even serving as president. In 1994, she received the Eagle Forum Award for pro-family, pro-life leadership when she launched a primary campaign for Delaware’s 10th senate district. Through her pro-life work she forged dear friendships that lasted her lifetime. 

Through the years of bringing up her children and later when grandchildren were born, Nancy made rallying the family her mission. She got everyone together for holidays, vacations, outings, fundraisers and charitable functions, and above all, family reunions.

Along the way, there would be myriad projects: baking birthday cakes and Christmas cookies (she even took home a couple of ribbons for her unique entries at the county fair); sewing clothes, costumes and comforters (mostly during the wee hours of the morning); playing nurse to a sick family pet; writing and directing plays and sketches to be performed at family reunions, school, or the old folk’s home. To her great delight, a magazine even published one of her many writing projects, a humorous article, “The Queen’s English and the President’s American.” Nancy was a prolific dreamer who never tired of making those dreams come true.

Her husband, Dave, preceded her in death, after 43 years of marriage, on November 26, 2000 due to complications from Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Nancy is survived by her children, Michael Kelsch of Charleston, SC (Julie), Donna Seldomridge of Georgetown (Mike), Edward Kelsch of Newark (Sandra), Katrina Biter of Dover (Stephen), Patrick Kelsch of Elkton, MD (Kristyn), Frank Kelsch of Hendersonville, NC (Jeni), Mark Kelsch of Indialantic, FL, and Carl Kelsch of Rutherford, NJ (Tony); 18 grandchildren; and 7 great grandchildren.      

All services will be held privately. Any family members or friends who are unable to attend Nancy’s service can live stream the service by clicking here.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Nancy’s memory to DRTL Education Fund, P.O. Box 1222, Wilmington, DE 19899-1222 or http://derighttolife.org

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12 Condolences for Nancy Lee Snead Kelsch

  • We have certainly lost a grand lady who championed life with every fiber of her being. We met Dave and Nancy as neighbors and as pro life activists. We accompanied her to the yearly March for Life. In her later years, she continued to March ,even with her limited physical strength,
    she marched with her walker right up to the Supreme Court. She was the real model of a feminist as a wife, mother, and activist who acted with grace and perseverance as the daughter of the Redeemer. Rest in the arms of Christ and His Mother.

  • May the peace and love of the Lord fill the hearts and souls of all the Kelsch family and may our Lord embrace Nancy for all eternity. God bless you Kelsch family.

  • There are many who will deeply mourn Nancy’s passing as her life was a life of service, love, compassion and excellence. May she rest in peace. Know that the Kelsch family are in my thoughts and in my prayers. May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief. You have my deepest condolences.

  • Nancy’s smile lit up the Church. Her Church family will love and remember her. We pray for her and her family during this time of loss. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord.

  • Nancy’s life has impacted so many people along the way and my family is so proud to be part of that company.
    Her pro-life witness would help many in their lives and God will reward her.
    May she RIP in the arms of Jesus and His Mother, Mary.

  • Our deepest condolences to the Kelsch family . We are saddened to hear of Nancy’s passing but rejoicing that she is reunited with her beloved Dave in Heaven
    Mary and Bernie

  • Our sincere sympathy to the Kelsch family. i remember having met Nancy in many Delaware Right to Life conferences, and other pro-life
    activities. Her dedication to her family ,the Church and the pro-life movement is admirable. May her soul rest in peace and may God
    bless and comfort her family .

  • May Nancy’s soul rest in peace. I had the honor to observe her gentle courage, and watch her deal gracefully with infirmity. What a wonderful role model for those of us in the pro-life movement and I am grateful for her past leadership of Delaware Right to Life. God bless her family.

  • Nancy is one in a million. She taught me much and was so kind even with those who disagreed with her. I truly loved her. I will miss seeing her at the Latin Mass.

  • Dear Mom,
    Thank you for being the best mom any son could hope for. You taught me so much. I have lived so many dreams because of you and dad. Now rest in the place God prepared for you.
    Your son,
    Michael

  • I will miss my mother Nancy very much. She taught me so much. She guided me so well. She cared for me when I was sick. She encouraged me with so much positive spirit. She taught me to love and serve God. She was everything a mother should be.
    I love you, mom.
    Mark Kelsch

  • Beautiful service! I appreciated the stories from Carl and Eddie.

    I am sending love and hugs.

    Patti Cordano