February 8, 2017 | By Jake Weber
Emerita professor of education Nancy Held passed away February 4 at Providence Hospital in Novi at the age of 84. She is survived by her daughters Heidi (Doug) Ross and Kirstin (Ken) Kinter and her grandsons Thaddeus, Maxwell and Jackson.
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Held grew up in North Dakota and Iowa, graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Drake University, where she also earned a graduate degree.
Held spent more than 30 years (1961-92) as a member of Albion College's faculty, educating countless future teachers and school administrators. For five of those years, "Nancy was the education department," notes Lori Duff, assistant to the provost. "She had adjunct instructors here and there, but for many years it was Nancy and the secretary. She ran that department single-handedly."
Nancy Roush, '72, longtime principal of Albion's Harrington Elementary School and an Albion College Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, recalled the 40-year friendship that began between professor and student.
"There was never a time I questioned Nancy's faith in me," Roush said. "In a perfect world, your mentor becomes a good friend and colleague. In this regard, my relationship with Nancy Held was as close to perfect as I could hope. I will miss her, but she will always be in my heart."
Perhaps Held's single biggest contribution to the College is the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center, which opened in 2004. Held provided critical underwriting for the project, but Held Center Recruitment Coordinator Randi Heathman, '03, notes that Held's work on the planning committee was equally important.
"When I say that she's the one responsible for the program, I mean to say that when Nancy spoke, people listened," Heathman explained. "She had a very distinctive way of not only pushing people to do more than they thought they could, but also to let them know that all they had to do was try and she would support their efforts.
"It was a step far outside of Albion College's comfort zone to enter the horse business, but Nancy told us we could and then supported us every step of the way," Heathman continued. "When we look at where we are now, it has her stamp all over it."
Throughout her life, Held was an active citizen and civic leader, with membership and leadership positions with Johnson Child Care Center, Albion Interfaith Ministries, First United Methodist Church, Ismon House, Kids 'N' Stuff Children's Museum, Alpha Chi Omega, First Presbyterian Church, and the Brass Band of Battle Creek. She was a summer resident in Bay View for more than 40 years and served as its Education Committee chairperson. Held also served on the Board of Advisors at the United Theological Seminary of Ohio.
Former College First Lady Becky Mitchell says Held was instrumental in establishing Kids 'N' Stuff, although Held kept her gift anonymous until the Museum's 10th anniversary celebration in 2012. Mitchell adds that Held "touched lives of individual children," and that love often led to her financial support of organizations serving young people. "She was a wonderful and trusted friend," Mitchell says.
"Nancy was a remarkable person who exuded a joy for life and a genuine affection for people. Her resoluteness and focus were imposing, while at the same time her whimsical smile and the twinkle in her eyes were endearing," adds former President Peter Mitchell, '67. "She was smart and savvy and sensitive. Nancy leaves a legacy of a powerful force for good in Albion—the College and the community."
Members of the Albion community are encouraged to share their memories of Nancy Held on the College's Facebook page or by emailing .