Nancy Jordan Wilson Critchfield passed away on June 19, 2023, peacefully and with her daughter by her side. Nancy lived a full life with Parkinson’s Disease for years, but as the related dementia progressed, it led to many falls and broken bones. Her frail little body just couldn’t take anymore. But her faith in God endured and her spirit remained strong! She was smiling, singing and full of joy until the day before her last on Earth, when her soul quietly left this life and entered the next.
Nancy was born August 15, 1935, in Ellwood City, PA, where she led an idyllic childhood with her parents, grandparents, younger sister, and lots of cousins. A tomboy with pigtails and a big smile, Nancy formed friendships as a child that lasted for life. Third in her class at Lincoln High School, Nancy had fun cheerleading, and earned the nickname “hot-rod” for her love of driving (fast!). Nancy then attended Grove City College and, upon graduating, started a job at University of Pittsburgh, where she met Jack Critchfield. The two soon married, and Nancy gave birth to a son and a daughter.
At age 35, and with a seven-year-old and a newborn in tow, Nancy graciously stepped into the role of First Lady of Rollins College in Winter Park, FL. She thrived in the job and especially liked hosting parties for faculty and students. Though often busy with events or travel, she still found time to do special things for her children, like drawing pictures for them to color or making faces and flower designs on their lunch plates. “Don’t play with your food,” was never in her vocabulary.
Later in life, Nancy embraced her creative side and took great pleasure in her weekly art classes and studio time. Her clear talent was revealed in the many pieces she created, whether oil paintings, watercolors, charcoal, or collage. She also studied art history and could be happily lost for hours in an art museum, library, or bookstore. The Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival was a highlight for her every Spring.
Nancy’s favorite place to escape was New Smyrna Beach, where you would find her on her beach chair, under a brightly colored umbrella, reading a good mystery book with her toes in the wet sand. Many of her paintings captured her love of beach life, blending two of her greatest joys.
Ever curious and eager to travel, Nancy was lucky to find a job leading tours all over the world. A favorite photo is of Nancy riding a camel at the Pyramids in Egypt. In 2019, with her daughter (and a little help from her friends), Nancy finally made it to Scotland (land of her ancestors), rode the fancy Belmond British Pullman train from London to Canterbury, and was thrilled (as a big Downton Abbey fan) to tour and have afternoon tea at Highclere Castle.
As much as Nancy enjoyed travel, home was where her heart truly was. She loved living in Winter Park. She was most comfortable at home in her nest, where she often welcomed family and friends. She was lucky to have wonderful friends in her life who were by her side through good times and bad times and who brought her comfort and joy, and a lot of laughs! Whether a Wednesday Girl, art class friend, beach friend, Rollins friend, travel friend, college friend, FUMCWP friend, friend of her children, or childhood friend, she treasured each and every one, and loved her friends deeply and loyally.
Nancy is preceded in death by her parents Ralph Harvey Wilson and Ruth Jordan Wilson, her sister Lynne Wilson Griswold, and by her son Mark Wilson Critchfield who welcomed her to heaven on his birthday. Best gift ever. She is survived by her daughter Lisa Critchfield Chandler, of Winter Park, FL, who will love her mom forever…to the moon and back.
Lisa is thankful for the loving support of friends and cordially invites them and loved ones to celebrate the life of her beloved mother on Saturday, September 16, 2023, at 11:00am at Knowles Memorial Chapel at Rollins College. A reception will follow at the nearby Rice Family Pavilion.
President Cornwell has deemed this to be a Rollins College event in recognition of Nancy’s time as First Lady and her lifelong support of the college. Nancy’s loved ones are grateful and touched by this honor.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in memory of Nancy to one of the many organizations she supported: Rollins College, Knowles Memorial Chapel, Rollins Art Museum, First United Methodist Church of Winter Park, WMFE/PBS, Interfaith Alliance, Washington National Cathedral, Spirit of Harmony Foundation, Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens, Orlando Museum of Art, Enzian Theater, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, or Dementia Society of America.