2017-02-23 02:28:12 UTC
Nancy Willard 1936 - 2017 Obituary
POUGHKEEPSIE - The well-known writer, Nancy Willard, died peacefully at her home in Poughkeepsie on February 19. Her death resulted from natural causes, according to her husband, Eric Lindbloom.
Ms. Willard's published more than 70 books, poetry, children's books, short stories,
novels, essays and criticism, in a career that spanned over fifty years. Her last children's book is due out this fall. She was also published in a number of limited-edition books, some of them with her poems paired with photographs by her husband, with Brighton Press in San Diego. Her poems are widely anthologized.
She received a number of awards for her books, the most prominent being the Newbery Award in 1982 for her William Blake's Inn, illustrated by Alice & Martin Provensen.
It was the first poetry book to be awarded the Newbery. Ms. Willard received grants from the N.E.A. in both poetry and fiction.
She joined Vassar College's English Department in 1965, and taught there through the fall semester of 2012. She taught full time for the first eight years, but then went part-time in order to have more time with her two-year old son, James, and the writing. Towards the end of her Vassar career she taught classes on special interest to herself, Fairy Tales and Medieval Tapestries. Ms. Willard never learned to drive a car - believing the world was a safer place with her not driving - and became known as 'the lady on the bicycle' in the Vassar neighborhood. For about two decades she taught at the Breadloaf Writers Conference each summer.
Ms. Willard was born on June 26, 1936 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her father, Hobart Willard, was a chemist who taught at the University of Michigan. Her mother, Margaret Sheppard, who said Nancy came out of womb writing, was hugely supportive of her writing as a child. She graduated from the University of Michigan with highest honors, and went on to earn an MA from Stanford. She returned to the University of Michigan to earn her PhD. Her dissertation was on the
use of physical objects in the poetry of Rilke, William Carlos Williams, Neruda, and Francis Ponge. It was published as Testimony of the Invisible Man, by the University of Missouri Press. On a number of summers during her college years she studied painting abroad, in Paris, Oslo, and San Miguel de Allende.
In 1964 she eloped with Eric, who had been pursuing her for nine years; they settled in Poughkeepsie, NY, which became home base for the rest of her life.. Their son, James Anatole Lindbloom, was born in 1970. Her sister, Ann Willard Korfhage, pre-deceased her. She is survived by her cousin Sue Wehmeier, nephews Willard Korfhage and David Korfhage, and nieces Margaret Fitzgerald and Lisa Pannell, and sisters-in-law Jean Jacobson and Ann LaRue.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, April 29, at 2 in the afternoon, at the Poughkeepsie Friends Meeting House. Arrangements are under the direction of Wm. G. Miller & Son F.H., Inc., 371 Hooker Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY 12603. If you wish to send an online condolence please visit our website at www.wmgmillerfuneralhome.com
Published in the Poughkeepsie Journal from Feb. 22 to Feb. 24, 2017.