Longtime resident Nancy Sherman, who served six terms on the Montpelier City Council and was active in virtually every aspect of city life, died on December 23 at age 74. She is remembered here by John Thomas Poeton of the Unitarian Church and state Rep. Mary Hooper, a former mayor of Montpelier.
Pillar of the Church
By John Thomas Poeton
During a homily about a decade ago, Rev. Maggie Rebmann, Minister Emeritus of the Unitarian Church of Montpelier, referred to a few very active, long-time members of our church as “pillars of our church.” People who, through their leadership activities, involvement, and energy every day, held the church together and represented the church’s mission and vision.
Nancy Sherman was one of those people.
Nancy was a very active member of the Unitarian Church of Montpelier for decades. Over time there were many activities and programs where she was directly or indirectly involved. If there was a job to be done or a position to be filled, Nancy was a willing volunteer.
Most recently Nancy had co-chaired the growth and facilities task force, which finished its term with the development of three plans for the future expansion of our church. This will be presented soon to church members for approval and a possible capital campaign. In the past Nancy was a member of the finance committee and the stewardship committee and involved in numerous church pledge drives.
Nancy volunteered for many roles at the church, including being Sunday school teacher for middle-grade students. She was frequently an usher and a greeter, always welcoming people at church with a friendly smile and meaningful conversations.
In preparation for our holiday fair, Nancy would often lead a team of women to make numerous crafts to be sold at the craft table. In recent years Nancy was the “pecan lady” at the fair, ordering and selling fresh pecans to raise funds for our annual budget. On the day of her passing Nancy was scheduled to be one of the Sunday counters.
Every Monday the community lunch program at the Unitarian Church serves approximately 125 full-course meals to the public. Nancy Sherman was actively involved in the development of this program and almost every Monday, with her husband Michael, would come wash and put away the dishes, pots, pans, and never leave until the job was done.
Nancy was loved by everyone who knew her at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier. To say that she will be missed in every way is an understatement. Her “pillar” will hold the Unitarian Church of Montpelier strong for years to come.
A Lasting Legacy
By Mary Hooper
ancy summed up her life this way: lived, loved, built family, 50 years of happy marriage, no regrets, checked out when it was done.
She captured her essence perfectly; she did not need to embellish or draw attention to her accomplishments. However, this humble sentiment fails to acknowledge how big of an effect she had on our community. It is hard to think of a part of Montpelier civic life that has not been touched by Nancy: housing, food, transport, schools, the library, her church, theater, all matters of city business.
Nancy served on countless committees, studies, and work groups. This service did not just result in a plan or a recommendation, it often ended in a community benefit. The historic Taylor Street bridge was preserved. The Montpelier Circulator supports a walkable community. The “new” senior center became a vibrant gathering place. The district heating plant uses wood and moved some oil tanks out of the flood plain. Barre Street was revitalized with more than 75 units of new housing.
Nancy would be quick to say she was not responsible for these projects, but without her quiet, persistent, and insistent support they would not exist. Nancy would also be quick to say that all of the projects she worked on were not accomplished. The recession of 2008 shelved a doable plan for Sabin’s Pasture, it took too long to pave the sidewalks on Sabin Street and to take care of blighted properties, these being just a few items on her to do list. Nevertheless, with a vision for our future, Nancy was not afraid to tackle hard projects and to give her best to help our city.
The uniting thread in her work was a belief that each member of the community must thrive in order for our whole city to be its best. During her service on the City Council she exercised this theory and she was always optimistic, always encouraging us to stretch and to do as much as possible for Montpelier.
Nancy’s engagement was motivated by a deep commitment to our community and it was energized by the great joy she took in her work. Her lovely eyes would brighten on a chance encounter and a conversation about a person or a need. Her enthusiasm for tackling a problem was irresistible. Her goodwill and dogged determination propelled many a good work. Montpelier is a better place for her many years of service. Thank you Nancy—and thank you Michael for sharing her with us.