BAKERSFIELD – Nancy Kurtz Hunt, 86, of Bakersfield, Vermont, died suddenly at the University of Vermont Medical Center on December 28, 2020, but not before reaching the pinnacle of a proverbial stairway she felt she had been climbing throughout her life. Nancy was an “all-in” wife, mother, teacher, and caregiver who brought determination and positive energy to almost every situation she encountered.
Born in Santa Monica, California, Nancy moved to Shaker Heights, Ohio, at the age of three and later to Hudson, Ohio, where she was raised by her mother, Nancy, and stepfather Robert Kurtz. After graduating from the Hathaway Brown School in 1952, Nancy attended Vassar College before transferring to the University of Michigan, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in art history in 1956. It was at Michigan that she met Allen Hunt; they married in 1957. The couple then moved to Cambridge, Mass., where Nancy was employed by Harvard University’s Fogg Museum as a library assistant and Allen pursued doctoral studies at Harvard.
In 1961, Allen and Nancy moved to Burlington, Vermont, to work and raise a family. Nancy would continue to live in Vermont for the next 58 years. During these decades, her accomplishments included earning teacher certification from the University of Vermont and serving as a long-time teacher-librarian in Burlington-area school districts. Nancy was devoted to her students and sought to enrich their lives by transforming the E.B. Taft and Orchard School libraries into media/learning centers—introducing computers and other educational media. Nancy made sure that her learning centers were anything but dull and offered supportive environments for students to imagine, dream and explore. Through story books, live animals (hens, rabbits) and building projects (e.g., a full-scale learning tree), Nancy aimed to teach students valuable lessons she hoped would serve them well throughout their lives.
In 1983, Nancy was elected president of what was then the Vermont Educational Media Association (VEMA). Three years later, she received the University of Vermont‘s Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award for the South Burlington School District. In 1990, she was recognized by VEMA as School Library Media Specialist of the Year.
Equal to Nancy’s passion for teaching was her love of Vermont’s rural landscape. In 1967, Allen and Nancy purchased a farm in Bakersfield, where they raised livestock; instilled in their sons traditional Vermont values including hard work, self-sufficiency, and respect for the land; and pursued a mission to leave their property better than they found it. Nancy also played a sizeable role in establishing the Bakersfield Historical Society and in later years cherished her involvement with the Planning Commission, H.F. Brigham Library, and other community affairs.
While pursuing her own multiple goals, Nancy always found time to support the aspirations of her husband and sons. Perhaps her greatest teaching skill was in encouraging others to set goals for themselves and discover that through dedication, commitment, and hard work one could achieve such goals. Nancy believed that each of us is born to fulfill a particular purpose on Earth and that pursuing that purpose is what brings meaning to life.
Nancy brought the same kind of persistence and determination to the aging process that she had exhibited all her life. As few as four years ago, her house burned down, and she insisted that it be rebuilt exactly as it had been (against family advice to build a more age-appropriate design). She lived alone at home—and liked it that way. She was proud of her independence—and especially her still valid driver’s license. When she suffered the heart attack that ultimately led to her death, she managed to call her own ambulance and efficiently lock up her house. When, days later, despite signs she was recovering, she called her sons from the hospital and said, “I’m in too much pain. I’m done,” Nancy was.
Nancy is survived by her sons Harry of Stowe and Jesse of Park City, Utah, and grandchildren Alaena, Tucker, Mia, Espen and Annika. She was predeceased by Allen, her husband of 56 years and Edwin, her eldest son.
Nancy was buried in Burlington’s Lakeview Cemetery on December 31. A celebration of her life will be held on the family farm in Bakersfield—date to be announced following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.
Arrangements are in care of the Ready Funeral & Cremation Service. To send online condolences to her family please visit www.readyfuneral.com.