Deceased July 14, 2018
Nancy Girard passed away gently on July 14, 2018, after a long and heroic battle with ALS. At our first meeting at Amherst, Nancy's vibrant and outgoing personality made a deep impression on me. With her ready smile, charming laughter, our friendship came easy. As a community college transfer, I was glad to find out that Nancy was as well. Her enthusiasm and confidence were infectious. As I look back now, I realize how profoundly she touched my heart and eased my Amherst transition.
I could see Nancy also made a particularly noteworthy impression on my shy roommate Garret Graaskamp ’79. How sweet it was to observe them falling in love during that first year!
Nancy’s dauntless courage and fierce will propelled her through Amherst, into her career, raising a family and in facing death.
In 1977, co-education at the college was new and male-dominated academia ruled. With indignation, Nancy would relate the condescending and patronizing attitudes she faced from her instructors. Nancy’s struggles were not isolated—many women who entered Amherst then were pioneers who endured challenges and setbacks solely due to their gender, not their intelligence. When faced with a “no you can't!,” Nancy replied, “Yes, I will!” It is with that spirit that she co-founded, along with Ruth Koury ’79, the Sabrinas, Amherst’s women’s a cappella singing group. Nancy exuded such joy as she sang with the Sabrinas that I remember watching her perform to this day.
While accruing a long list of career accomplishments in environmental law, Nancy’s first passion was always her family. Her dedication to her children, Kelsey and Cameron, was deep and was a highlight of every communication we shared over the years. Hold Kelsey, Cameron and Garret in your thoughts and prayers as they grieve for the loss of Nancy.
Peter Skillman ’79
I first met Nancy at Greenfield Community College in 1975. We were both "locals"—she had graduated frm Northfield Mount Herman as a day student, and I was attending the newly built and fully accessible community college after suffering a spinal cord injury on my family's farm while a junior in high school. It was Nancy's spirit and energy that caught my attention as she was taking eight classes, tutoring and working part time while getting straight A's and still having time to chat and joke.
We both matriculated at Amherst in the fall of 1977. She studied political science, founded the Sabrinas a capella singing group and worked at Frost Library. We remained friends and supported each other as we adjusted to college life. When she met her future husband, Garret Graaskamp, she wanted me to “check him out” before they started dating. I was an usher at their wedding in the Mount Herman chapel in 1981.
I was shocked and deeply saddened to receive Garret's phone call this past summer, informing me of Nancy's passing after a courageous two-year struggle with ALS.
She leaves Garret and her cherished son and daughter, Cameron and Kelsey, behind. I will always remember Nancy's wry sense of humor and friendly smile. She was a fine woman, mother, wife and friend.
Bradley Brigham ’79