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