Obituary for Nancy Vestal Wrenn
Nancy Vestal Wrenn, a resident of the Swannanoa Valley in Buncombe County since 1947, died on December 21, 2017. Born to Clement and Lyla Wrenn in Wilkes County on February 11, 1922, Nancy spent her formative years in Southern Pines, where she excelled in intramural sports and equestrian competitions. In addition to her parents, Nancy was predeceased by her brother, Clement Wrenn Jr., and his wife Phyllis; her step father, Virgil P. Clark; her step sister, Helen Lee; her step brother, Gene; and her best friend and life companion, Ruth Matthews White.
Nancy was a graduate of Duke University, class of 1943, and a proud supporter of University athletics and environmental studies. While a student there, she was elected President of the Women’s Athletic Association and chosen as Queen of the May Court her senior year. In 1945, she joined the American Red Cross and was assigned to the Pacific Theater of Operations, stationed in Okinawa, until 1947 when she returned to the United States and settled in the Swannanoa Valley.
In 1948, Nancy was offered a teaching position at Swannanoa High School, now Owen High School, where she taught social studies, history and English for 34 years. During those years, Nancy also developed and taught a basic course in aero science which significantly influenced a number of her students to pursue careers in commercial flying. In 1965, at the age of 43, Nancy began taking flying lessons and ultimately earned her private license and ASEL commercial certificate. She was a member of the Carolinas Chapter of the Ninety-Nines, Inc., an international organization of women pilots, where she served in all levels of the chapter offices and several Southeast Section committee chairs. Nancy also was a Charter Member of the Western N.C. Pilots Association.
In 1952, Nancy and Ruth opened a summer camp for girls on the property where they also had built a home. The camp operated for one month each summer until 1973 and was named Awa-niko (Okinawa backwards). At its peak, there were approximately 25 campers, 10 mostly rented horses, 10 part time staff and a full array of activities including canoeing, hiking, overnight camping, dramatics, archery, riflery, horseback riding, crafts, nature studies and photography.
Nancy is survived by her nieces, Kathy Wrenn Johnson of Virginia Beach and Sue Anne Wrenn of Charlotte; her step brother, Virgil T. Clark (Faye); her great niece, Rebecca Thompson; her great-great nephew, Bridger Adkison; her step niece, Betty Davis (Wade); and her step nephew, Bob Montgomery (Carol). She will long be remembered and appreciated additionally by a multitude of former students, former campers, friends and neighbors.
A memorial service for Nancy will be Saturday, February 3, 2018 at 2:00 pm at St. James Episcopal Church in Black Mountain, NC, where Nancy and Ruth were active and supportive members for decades.
Anyone wishing to make contributions is asked to address them to St. James Episcopal Church in Black Mountain, Buncombe County Schools Foundation or CarePartners Hospice in Asheville.
Family and friends of Nancy would like to thank the staff of the Laurels of Summit Ridge for their understanding, compassion and excellence in the care of Nancy during her extended stay in that facility.