Nancy Edgar

Woman of faith, counselor, expert seamstress

Nancy Eloise Drake Edgar died in Claremont on September 13, 2012. She was 98.

Mrs. Edgar was born on April 8, 1914 in Ottawa, Kansas where she lived with her parents, Carl and Bess Drake, her 2 sisters, Violet and Carolee, and her brother Joe. The Drakes owned a bakery in Ottawa until 1923 when they moved to Lawrence, Kansas in order to be near the University of Kansas, opening a bakery on Massachusetts Street.

The Depression years were hard on the bakery but it began to thrive and prosper after Mr. Drake installed a donut-making machine in the shop window, providing a fascinating look at the donut-making process and projecting tempting smells onto the street.

While in high school, she met Robert Edgar and together they attended the University of Kansas and married after their sophomore year. Upon graduation in 1936, the Edgars went on to Chicago Theological Seminary and, as the first married couple to enter, were housed in the guest apartment in the men’s dorm where they hosted parties, serving pastries sent from the bakery by her parents. To supplement finances, Mrs. Edgar was secretary at the Wilmette Congregational Church while her husband served as the assistant minister, which provided practical experience in parish work to supplement their seminary education.

In 1939, with new seminary degrees, they moved to Red Oak, Iowa, where Dr. Edgar was pastor of the Congregational Church and their first daughter, Sally Eileen, was born. In 1942, the family of 3 moved to Glenview, Illinois, a burgeoning little town north of Chicago. Glenview became one of the boomtowns of World War II, and the church exploded to a congregation of 3000, involving many building programs and wonderful growing experiences and, not incidentally, the birth of 2 more daughters, Janet Jo and Patricia Lou.

The Edgars lived in Glenview for 19 years, going to New York City in 1959 for a sabbatical year at Union Seminary in Morningside Heights on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. They made their home on the Upper East Side for the next 14 years, where Dr. Edgar was pastor of Central Presbyterian Church. In 1973, following a second sabbatical year spent in travel and training in Transactional Analysis, they started a counseling center, which they operated full-time from 1976 to 1979 after Dr. Edgar’s retirement from the church.

Mrs. Edgar loved life in New York, and enjoyed the plethora of theater productions, concerts and museums on offer. She was especially interested in orchestral church music, encouraging her husband in the establishing of Musica Sacra, the choral group founded by Central Presbyterian’s organist, Dick Westenberg. She also continued her lifetime enjoyment of sewing, creating much of her stylish wardrobe and her daughters’ wedding and bridal party dresses on her Singer Featherweight sewing machine, one of 3 she had over the years.

In 1979, Mrs. Edgar and her husband retired to the family vacation home in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida where they lived until they moved to Claremont in 1987, joining old seminary friends at the Pilgrim Place retirement community. Dr. Edgar died in 1988.

In the profile Mrs. Edgar submitted for Pilgrim Place records, she notes a few of her favorite things—frogs, weeds, acorns, birds, trees, the beach, sharp pencil points and people—and hobbies like sewing, knitting, reading and listening to good music. It is generally acknowledged that she was a balm on the landscape wherever she went.

Mrs. Edgar is survived by her daughters and their husbands, Sally and Ed Johnston of Millbrook, New York and New York City; Janet and Bob Mitchell of New York City and Claremont; and Patty and Kent Laflin of Grand Lake, Colorado and Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

Mrs. Edgar is also survived by her 3 grandchildren, Margot Saharic of Seattle, Washington; Amy Wiegelman of Somers, New York; and David Garrison of Rochester, New York, who notes that his grandmother was “an empathetic genius”; along with 6 great-grandchildren, Will, Chloe, Graham, Nancy, Ally and Ruby. 

Arrangements for a memorial service at Pilgrim Place and interment in Florida are pending. In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested contributions to Mission Hospice, 625 Fair Oaks Ave., Suite 229, South Pasadena, CA, 91030.




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