Nancy W. Atkinson

Wed, 07/07/2021 - 3:00pm

Nancy Whittier Atkinson, 97, of Falmouth Foreside, Maine passed away on June 29, 2021 at the Falmouth By The Sea nursing home with her daughter and son at her side.

After a long drive from Philadelphia, Nancy was born on Aug. 16, 1923 at the Sewall family homestead in Old Town, Maine, the daughter of Charles LeRoy Ince Whittier and Harriet Sydney Sewall. She then returned to Philadelphia with her mother.

During her teenage years, Nancy spent much of her time developing her equestrian skills. Nancy attended Abbot Academy in Andover, Massachusetts graduating in 1941.

Nancy went on to Cornell University and graduated in 1945 with a B.A. in English Literature. While at Cornell, Nancy became a life-long member of the Alpha Omicron Pi fraternity and Daughters of the American Revolution.

It was at Cornell that Nancy first met her future husband Ralph Massie Atkinson, a civil engineering student. Following graduation, they were married at Trinity Church in Princeton, New Jersey on Sept. 9, 1945. Their honeymoon was spent driving across country to the West Coast where Ralph, assigned to the Naval Construction Battalion Seabees Unit, was deployed for active duty in the Philippines.

Following Ralph’s discharge, Nancy and Ralph traveled to Fort Kent, Maine to teach high school from August 1946 to June 1947. In the March 29, 1947 issue of “Liberty” magazine, Nancy and Ralph were portrayed in an article entitled “Frontier Teachers” documenting the young teachers’ life in rural, northern Maine.

In 1952, Nancy and Ralph moved to Winchester, Massachusetts where they would raise a family until retiring to Falmouth Foreside in 1990. While in Winchester, Nancy was a founding member of the Winchester Duplicate Bridge Club, a communicant of and Sunday school teacher at the Parish of the Epiphany Episcopal Church, active in Cub Scouts, and a volunteer at the Museum of Science in Boston. A life-long bridge player, Nancy held an ACBL club directorship.

Nancy was a crossword puzzle constructor for 50 years appearing in The New York Times Magazine, Washington Post and other national newspapers and books. In 1976 Nancy constructed the Bi-Centennial Liberty Bell crossword puzzle, a puzzle shaped in the profile of the Liberty Bell, containing the names of all 50 states, U.S. presidents and 200 years of U.S. history facts.

In 1940 Nancy’s first visit to Juniper Point in West Boothbay Harbor would be the beginning of a relationship with the region that would endure for years to come. Each summer Nancy looked forward to time spent with family and friends at the Whittier family cottage, whether it was lobster dinners around the table, hand jigging for cod on her father’s Farnham & Brewer 32’ Sport Lobsterman Downeaster or going to picnics on Outer Heron Island. As a member of the Juniper Point Village Improvement Society, she volunteered her time at clambakes, bridge parties, square dances and other social functions.

Surviving Nancy are her daughter, Sydney Ellen Atkinson of New Canaan, Connecticut; her son, Scott Edward Atkinson and daughter-in-law, Meredith Mitchell Atkinson of West Boothbay Harbor; her sister, Sydney Whittier Klenk of Brunswick, Maine; and her cousin, Elizabeth Sewall Gary of North Falmouth, Massachusetts.

She was predeceased by her husband, son, Christopher Whittier Atkinson, and sister Katharine Sewall Whittier.

The family wishes to extend its sincere appreciation to the staff of Hospice of Southern Maine and Falmouth By The Sea for their outstanding care and compassion shown to Nancy during her stay.

There will be no visiting hours. A funeral service will be held Sunday, July 11 at 3 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church in Portland followed by private interment at Riverside Cemetery, Cape Elizabeth. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hospice of Southern Maine.

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