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Obituary: Nancy Louise Weingartner

Avid bridge player, lifelong PEO member, consummate volunteer, music lover

Two weeks shy of her 95th birthday, Nancy Louise Weingartner died peacefully, surrounded by the love of her family.

She lived a rich and full life, contributed much to her Claremont community via many organizations, including the PEO Sisterhood and her affiliation with United Church of Christ. She is remembered as a loyal, creative, hardworking, smart, fun-loving, friendship-nurturing woman who always loved a party and wholeheartedly believed in lifelong learning.

Nancy grew up in Westwood, California. As a child she studied piano and violin. Following high school she attended Pomona College in Claremont, where she studied psychology and music, graduating in 1948.

Her love of music was central to so much of what she enjoyed in life, including musical theatre. She knew many songs by heart from “The Music Man,” “The Sound of Music,” “Oklahoma,” “South Pacific,” and “Mary Poppins.” She also joined her church choir in her 50s and sang tenor and alto for more than 25 years.

She instilled this love in her children, each of whom have made music central in their own lives. A favorite memory is sitting around her at the piano during which she taught them a three-part harmony arrangement to “Down by The Old Mill Stream.” She often broke out into song when she recognized a tune, or you might see her keeping the beat by tapping her fingers or swaying to the rhythm.

She developed a group-oriented nature from early on. After attending a casting call for extras in a Hollywood movie, she and a small group of high school friends named themselves “the extras,” even though none were chosen. At Pomona College, she and a few classmates formed a group calling themselves the “perennial sophomores.” Both groups enjoyed annual reunions throughout their lives, discovering new places within the U.S. together while catching up on their lives.

She was a born teacher. She taught second and fourth grade in the Ontario School District. She went on to earn her master’s in psychology and worked as a psychometrist in the Glendora Unified School District. She administered psychological and intelligence tests, primarily to elementary and secondary-aged students.

In 1964, she married Robert Weingartner and began a significant career as a volunteer in numerous organizations. PEO, a Philanthropic Educational Organization that supports women furthering their education, became paramount in her life. During her nearly 60 years as a member, she held numerous leadership positions including president of her Claremont chapter and state president (prior to which she served as organizer, treasurer, secretary, and vice president). She also served on the board of Cottey College’s retirement home development at the private women’s college in Nevada, Missouri. One of her PEO sisters recently wrote she was “the heart” of their chapter.

She contributed her time and leadership skills to Recordings for the Blind, recently renamed Learning Ally, which serves individuals who cannot read standard print due to blindness, visual impairment, dyslexia, or other learning disabilities. She served two terms as volunteer coordinator of Claremont’s Red Cross. She became involved in the Curtain Raisers, a nonprofit organization that supports theater and dance at the Claremont Colleges and in the community.  She was a 48-year member of the Foothill Philharmonic. A fellow member wrote she was a “dedicated, greatly admired” member. She participated in creating “fun-filled Fridays,” which provided a way for senior citizens to ride into L.A. for lunch and a show.

The couple shared a love of history and enjoyed traveling both nationally and internationally.  They made many new friends during their travels, and especially enjoyed cruises. Among the many countries they visited were Hungary, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. A favorite destination was Switzerland, to which they returned four times over the years. Showing slides of their trips became a favorite activity, especially with their UCC church group, “hub-a-wif,” which met once monthly for potluck and a program. During their membership they served as co-presidents and co-program chairs.

Her involvement with Citrus College in Glendora was significant as well. She served on the foundation’s board and worked with them to oversee the Scott Alan Thompson Scholarship, which her mother, Lois Moon, established in 1988 in honor of her grandson, Nancy’s son. He was especially gifted on guitar as well as in music composition and editing. This scholarship has since been awarded annually to two people who have chosen to major in some aspect of the music industry.

Beyond her engagement with these organizations, her church, PEO and travel, her enthusiasm and curiosity extended to many other areas. She loved reading fiction, memoir, and especially mysteries, typically reading three books at a time. She was always up for a game of Scrabble, worked on the L.A. Times crossword every morning, and was a big movie fan of all genres except horror. She loved writing short talks about her specific interests, including coincidences, the history and status of women, and Yagottawanna, the a cappella trio her daughters and a close friend formed in the late 1980s. She enjoyed presenting her talks to other PEO chapters in Southern California.

She was an avid bridge player all her life and belonged to several groups. One of her bridge friends called her a “master of strategy.” After her passing, more than one friend said something along the lines of, “You know, Nancy’s probably looking for a bridge game, wherever she is.”

The couple took advantage of many Claremont community organizations including Harvey Mudd’s Galileo Society, for which her husband served on its board. Her love of science was cultivated by events such as the Hubble launch.

“Nancy’s zest for life leaves those of us who knew her a legacy of inspiration,” her family shared.

She is survived by her husband, Robert; daughters Kathryn Thompson and Janet Thompson (Sharon England); and son Steve Weingartner (Demara Nuzum).

She was predeceased by her son, Scott Thompson.

A celebration of her life will be held in October. The date, time and place will be announced soon.

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