Remembering Nancy West Harrington

Nancy West Harrington departed this life on December 21, 2022 after a brief illness. She was 98.

Nancy was born December 6, 1924 in the village of Roxwell, Essex County, England to Charles Henry West and Phyllis Mildred West. She had one sibling, her brother, Don. Nancy had a happy life in the small village that was filled with many of her relatives. She attended Roxwell Church of England School, and was active at St. Michael’s and All Angels church in the village. She taught Sunday School while a teenager. Also as a teenager, Nancy founded a Brownie troop for girls in Roxwell, and became its captain. She graduated the Mid-Essex Technical College with a degree in business, and went to work for the school system. Nancy and her family lived through the Great Depression and World War II. They survived the bombing of their street and yard during the Battle of Britain.

In August 1943, Nancy and a friend were sitting on a bench at the end of her street when two American airmen from a nearby base walked by. One of them was her future husband, Billy. They started dating and became engaged. Billy was sent to France and then Belgium, as part of the Allied invasion of Europe. After Germany surrendered in May 1945, Billy learned that he was being sent to the Pacific theater with his B-26 bomber squadron. He was granted leave and rushed back to Roxwell to tell Nancy that they should get married. Her mother put together a wedding at St. Michael’s church in five days, with Nancy wearing a wedding gown borrowed from the widow of a British soldier who died at Dunkirk. They celebrated a three day honeymoon, and Billy went back to his unit.

After Japan surrendered in August 1945, Billy was sent home to Louisiana. In June 1946, Nancy finally got to join him as one of 65,000 British war brides that arrived in the U.S. by ship. They first lived at Monette’s Ferry with his family, then moved to Cypress and eventually to Flora. Nancy went to work for the Natchitoches Parish School Board, where she had a long career, including many years as the Executive Secretary to five superintendents of schools. When she retired, the School Board voted to permanently name its meeting room The Nancy West Harrington Board Room.

In 2018, Nancy was honored by the Citizens for Democratic Action for her tireless service to others.

Nancy first attended Trinity Episcopal Church on Easter Sunday, 1947, beginning a relationship with a church that she loved so much, and that she and Billy raised their children in.

Nancy and Billy had three children, Rick, Rodney, and Billy Joe. They all graduated Northwestern State University, and all became attorneys. One was elected district judge and another was elected district attorney of Natchitoches Parish. Another has a successful law practice.

Nancy and Billy loved their boys, and were active in their lives from their youngest days, teaching them to hunt and fish, play sports, and excel in school. They raised them as Christians. Nancy taught her sons, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren many life lessons, but perhaps the most important was to treat all people with respect and dignity, no matter who they were.

She lived her life with dignity and grace, and was a living example and inspiration to all who knew her.

Nancy lost her beloved husband in 2004 and moved from Flora to Natchitoches to be closer to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She continued to stay active in their lives and attended their sporting events and other activities. She was her grandchildren’s adored “Grandma Nan”.

Nancy was proud of her English heritage and she and her family made many trips to England to visit their relatives there. Her English family also made many visits to Louisiana to see her. She eventually obtained her U. S. citizenship so that she could vote here, without surrendering her British citizenship.

Nancy was predeceased by her parents and brother, and her husband, Billy. She is survived by her sons, Rick (Carolyn), Rodney (Jan), and Billy Joe (Donna). She leaves eleven grandchildren and their spouses: Charlotte Harrington, Andy (Holly) Harrington, Camille Harrington, Curtis (Kasey) Harrington, Eddie (Emily) Harrington, Emily Erin Harrington, Mary Catherine Harrington, Drake (Brandi) Harrington, Claire (Brandon) Mayeaux, Kyle (Emily) Lechman and Peyton Rimmer. She had 13 great-grandchildren: Austin and Naomi Page, Nell and Lonnie Harrington, Alice and Edmund Harrington, Hudson, Hendrix and Hayes Harrington, Anna and Eva Mayeaux, and Charlotte and Amelia Lechman.

The family expresses its gratitude to Courtyard of Natchitoches, Hospice of Natchitoches, Ellen Chalk, Wanda Sykes and Pam Williams for their care of Nancy.

Services for Nancy will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church, 822 Second Street in Natchitoches, Louisiana on Wednesday, December 28, 2022, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Visitation will be in the church before the service, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Her pallbearers will be her grandsons Andrew, Curtis, Eddie and Drake Harrington, and her grandson-in-law, Brandon Mayeaux. Burial will follow at Weaver Cemetery in Flora, Louisiana, where she will be placed at rest beside Billy. On her gravestone is a phrase from a poem by the British poet Rupert Brooke: “There’s some corner that is forever England.”

Those wishing to honor Nancy’s memory with a donation may contribute to the Trinity Episcopal Church RRR Fund, 148 Touline, Natchitoches, LA 71457.