Nancy Carole Anne Pierce was born on June 28, 1942 in Pittsburgh, PA, the daughter of the late Margaret and Fred Pierce. She grew up in Mount Lebanon, PA as the fifth of seven children, with older brother, Fred, older sisters Pat, Joan and Rosemary, and younger brothers, John and Dan.
Nancy graduated from St Francis Academy High School before entering the Catholic Convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden, PA. Her decision to join the Convent was motivated in equal measure by devotion, a desire to serve, and an opportunity for a higher education. She would become the first in her family to receive a college education. She dedicated seven years of service teaching Catholic elementary school and earning a college degree in education before leaving the convent and entering the nursing profession.
Nancy received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA. in June of 1970. She continued her education at Boston University, Boston, MA, receiving a M.S. in Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing in May 1972. Upon receiving her degree, she moved to Hyannis, MA and opened her first psychotherapy practice. She left the practice after a year and moved back to Boston where she became the Assistant Director of Nursing for Staff Development at Boston City Hospital. Two years later in June of 1975, she relocated to the Washington, DC area after being asked to establish the position of Psychiatric Liaison Nurse at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, MD.
She married John Erck on September 4, 1976 in Washington, DC and resided in McLean, VA until January 2003.
She remained at her position in Suburban Hospital until August 1977 when she joined the faculty of Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. During her time at the University, she was appointed Chair of, and taught in the Graduate Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing Department, and she co-authored The American Association of Critical Care Nurses Core Curriculum. During this time, she also resumed, on a part-time basis, her practice of psychotherapy with Woodmont Psychiatric Associates, Bethesda, MD. She left Catholic University in June 1980 and resumed the full-time practice of psychotherapy with Woodmont Psychiatric Associates in June 1980. In 1982, she was asked to lead an American Delegation of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses on a Clinical Study tour of facilities in select Russian locations. She received an advanced certification in Couples and Family Therapy from the Center for the Study of Human Systems, Bethesda, MD in September 1983. In January 1985, she left Woodmont Psychiatric Associates and went out on her own becoming the first psychiatric nurse in the D.C. area to establish a solo practice. The practice thrived until her retirement in December 2001. In addition to her private practice, she served as a paid consultant to the National Institutes of Health from 1985 to 2001, providing consultation to a variety of health care professionals.
In January 2003 after her husband’s retirement, they traveled for more than 30 months across the United States, Mexico and Canada in a motorhome. It was their adventure of a lifetime. They purchased a home and settled in Mitchell in August 2005.
Shortly after arriving in Mitchell, Nancy began serving as the Program Manager for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for abused and neglected Children). She served in that capacity until 2010. She continued to serve on the CASA board In 2007, she began serving as an Adjunct member of the Nursing Faculty at Dakota Wesleyan. As a member of the University’s Parish Nursing Outreach Project, she regularly volunteered her services to monitor blood pressures of residents of the Wesley Acre Retirement Community. She was a member and Past President of the Mitchell Lion’s Club; she served on the Board of Mitchell Main Street and Beyond; she has served on the Board of the Mitchell area Concert Series and also on the Board of the Abbott House.
Nancy is survived by her loving husband, John. She is also survived by brothers, sisters and their spouses: Fred Pierce and his wife, Mary in Pittsburgh, PA, Patricia Getty and her husband Frank (deceased) in Bethel Park, PA., Joan Gross and her husband, Richard in Fairfield, OH; Rosemary Gray and her husband, John (both deceased) John Pierce and his wife Liz in Longview, TX Daniel Pierce and his wife Anne of Coral Springs, FL and by many loving nieces and nephews.
entry posted by Bob Terzian on 12-26-2013
For over 40 years, you and Nancy were the ageless couple who infectiously shared life and loving with those around you, She was the softest rock I ever knew, and you her perfect match. Arax loved Nancy, as did I. I can still hear the two of them laughing! I gain some comfort in believing they will be reunited, and perhaps we will all hear their celestial laughter. It is clear from reading the other comments on this page that she-and you- touched so many lives in such a wonderful and loving ways. May you find solace in knowing that you loved and supported her like no other could, and that she loved you so deeply, and that she will be in your (and our collective) consciousness as a forever shining light. With great sorrow at her absence, I also am filled with wonder and joy at having the blessing of the two of you playing such an important role in my life. I am also in celebration of her continuing influence in my life and the lives of the others she touched, and in the knowledge that you are still on this physical plane carrying her torch along side your none the less noble light,
entry posted by Lana Albright on 12-22-2013
I first met Nancy about 30 years ago when she was a consultant to our pediatric oncology nursing staff at NIH. Later, as I went through cancer treatment myself, she was my calm and fearless ally. Still later, when I adopted my daughter, Nancy was my role model for how to mother with patience, gentle guidance, unconditional love, a sense of adventure, honest listening and lots of laughter.
Nancy helped so many cope with life's hurts and, like a kaleidoscope, helped them turn the pieces of their brokenness into something of joy and beauty again. I will miss her terribly. When I look up in the evenings as dusk turns to night there is a brief period when the sky is the exact color of Nancy's eyes. Wherever I am in the world at that moment I feel her presence.
John, may you find comfort in the love you shared with Nancy. She will always be a blessing to all who knew her. You and Nancy are in my prayers,
entry posted by Kathryn Stratos on 11-27-2013
Nancy and John, you practiced the art of friendship so beautifully over the years, enriching our whole family's life--from our parents to my son. Staying in touch with us as you transitioned to adventure on the road and life in South Dakota. I will cherish early memories of our friendship, watching John cook over the stove at your house in McLean, while setting the table with Nancy, great conversations about our lives and careers, about life's trials and tribulations and miracles, laughing about little things and learning to laugh and look at things positively through Nancy's eyes. I remember in my mind's eye the little orange and yellow truck you gave William the first time you met him, and how he raced around the kitchen and through the living room 100 times that evening pushing the truck, to the happy peals of laughter, the most delighted from Nancy. William said when hearing the news, "I don't want her to die. I liked her!" And so we say good bye with a heavy heart, Nancy. We love you. And we love you, John. God be with you. And please reach out to all of us so we can be with you too.
entry posted by Jennifer Quinn on 11-27-2013
Since I was too sure I’d cry during the open mic portion of Aunt Nancy’s memorial service, I figured I’d write herewhat I think I would have said and then some. Which, much like my Uncle John expressed about the slide show, doesn’t even begin to cover the depth of my love and admiration for my Aunt Nancy.
One of the things that I loved so much about her was how excited she got about any little thing. I mean, seriously, she could make peeling a cucumber an epic event as far as the enthusiasm she would express for the task whether she was the one completing the task or not. Her enthusiasm was so infectious and so endearing, it always helped keep a cynic like me in check and to remember that the only moment you have is now and why waste it thinking negatively? When we visited in September, one of the things that came up in our conversation was the fact that, once I moved into management with my company, I somehow acquired the name JQ and that is what pretty much everyone calls me professionally even up to the officer/director level etc. Well, she just thought that was the cutest thing ever and I remember feeling so tickled that she cared that much about it. She was so genuinely fascinated to know what my work identity is about and what I’ve accomplished. She really did make you feel like you were THE most important being on the planet to her. After we left, she sent me an email a few days later that began with a super adorable “Hi JQ!” and I could just feel her enthusiasm and giant smile that I know was on her face when she wrote that. I would bet she felt almost giddy getting to be in the know like that and calling me what people call me at work. She was just so dang cute with stuff like that. If there is one thing I will focus on the most to honor her is to be enthusiastic about the time we have in this life because dang it, it can be cut painfully short at any moment as we have tragically learned.
My heart is broken that she is gone and it breaks further knowing how challenging this time is for my Uncle. Their love was an incredible one and their time together filled with opportunity and adventure. It is nothing short of a devastating loss to so many but most of all him. And I’m so sorry for that. They both deserved way more time together in this world. This thing called life is so very tricky. But, like she did with EVERYTHING else, I'm sure Aunt Nancy would figure out some way to see this positively so to honor her, fumble forward without her but with hope intact we must. I know he will find his way and I’d be willing to bet she’s going to help him along.
entry posted by Ashley Terrill on 11-25-2013
For Nancy Erck
“Trouble. Oh trouble set me free. I have seen your face and it’s too much, too much for me. Trouble. Oh trouble can’t you see. You’re eating my heart away and there’s nothing much left for me.” – Cat Stevens, “Trouble”
Our worlds first connected one Fourth of July. While the adults talked on the porch and the children ran around the backyard, I foraged for leaves, twigs, and flowers to create something (nature was my first set of art supplies). At some point, Nancy caught wind of my activity and came over to discuss it with me. By the time I finished, I showed it to Nancy. Without hesitation, she called my creation “art”. Her response (and her certainty on the matter) elevated my childish “doodlings” to a place of high prize: her admiration. To my amazement, an adult valued my creation and that was very special for a young creative child. Yet, I would learn that Nancy was not just any adult. In many ways, she was an angel worker.
From our initial bonding moment, grew a series of trips to Annapolis with my sister, Lauren, and I in tow to spend time with our “adoptive parents” (aka The Ercks). We’d happily pile into one of their identical SAABs and head for the Chesapeake Bay. Listening to the Oldies during the forty-five minute drive, Mrs. Erck would marvel at our impressive song lyric knowledge.
Upon our arrival, it was our ritual to hit up the local library and pick out a movie and a New Age CD. Over the course of the weekend, we’d sail, make mini-bagel pizzas, play games (most memorably Balderdash, but I’ll let my sister to tell that story), watch Labyrinth (it was the only movie I ever selected, and I made them watch it countless times). The weekend would culminate with a performance art piece performed by Lauren and me -- which is where the New Age CD came into play.
Nancy and John applauded all aspects of our creativity. These cherished weekends were times spent feeling safe, nurtured, creative, loved, and in the presence of peace and calm. Whether or not Nancy and John knew it (though given Nancy’s background, I imagine she did), these were qualities at times foreign to our home life.
Our bond would continue into our high school years. Going to McLean High School (a quick trip from their home), I’d often pop over to see Mrs. Erck after school. We’d sit and talk -- not forwards or backwards-- just being present with each other.
Our communication thinned as I ventured into college and John and Nancy took their trans-America tour. However, we’d always check back in. And when we picked things up, it was as if they had never been left.
After moving to Los Angeles in 2008, I began traipsing across this beautiful country a bit myself. In June of 2008, I came home for a sad and pinnacle point of my life: the end of my mother’s. Cathy Terrill died on June 13 2008.
Months later, my sister and I would make the journey together back to LA from VA. We had many paths to choose from, but the one with the greatest appeal was the route that went through Mitchell, SD –the now home of John and Nancy Erck. It was a glimmer in time –- only a short few days spent with our “adoptive parents”. Of course with hindsight, I wish we had stayed longer, for it is now the last time we could bask in the happiness and loveliness that is and was Nancy Erck.
I will cherish that time forever.
The last conversation I had with Nancy and John was about a year ago. I was again on a cross-country spat --on my way to DC from LA for the holidays-- and called to catch up. Once again, Nancy listened to the trials and tribulations of my life. She gave her love and input
In her loss, I am reminded of the care and attention she gave to children of abuse. As I mentioned, as a child, my home life was chaotic, violent, and has led to many handicaps as an adult women. I never connected the dots as a child; but as an adult, it is quite clear. Nancy honed in on the trauma that my sister and I lived as children of abuse. She and John intuitively, lovingly, and without ever referencing the abuse, gave us a space in their lives and home that served as “breathing room” from ours.
They gave us space to be children -- to be creative and to make mistakes without being yelled at – or worse, to be hurt without cause. There – with them -- we felt special. We felt loved. We felt understood. I am still a work-in-progress; but I am certain my load would be very different if Nancy and John had never opened their home, life, and arms to my sister and me at a crucial time in both our young lives.
For that, I am eternally grateful.
My sister once said, “No offense Mrs. Erck, but you love everything.” There is not a truer or more genuine statement about a truer or more genuine person. She loved herself (an important thing that is often not adequately modeled), she loved John, she loved life – and all the people and things that filled it.
My love is with Nancy. My heart is with you, John. May you one day be reunited, so your amazing love and partnership can continue on as it should – together.
entry posted by Sally Witt, CSJ on 11-25-2013
Nancy and I became Sisters of St. Joseph together, and I treasure the time with her, especially her always kind fun and her great integrity. We keep her in prayer in Baden, along with you, John, and al who continue to love her.
entry posted by Carole & Charley West on 11-22-2013
We especially treasure our sailing adventures with you and John in the British Virginia Islands and on Chesapeake Bay and will always remember you as a fun loving person.
entry posted by Rod Hall on 11-21-2013
What a remarkable lady. May she rest in peace.
entry posted by Daryl Wollmann on 11-21-2013
John sorry about the loss of your your wife Nancy. Prayers be tiwht u
entry posted by Heidi Geppert on 11-21-2013
I was on the Board for CASA here in Mitchell when I first met Nancy. She is one of the most positive people that I have ever met. Nancy truly touched my life and made such an impact on others, too. Her passing has reminded me of the following saying: A Hundred Years from Now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house that I lived in, or the kind of car I drove, but the world may be different because I was important in the Life of a CHILD. I think that this was written about Nancy and I know that she was important to many. My thoughts and prayers are with you- John .
entry posted by Brenda Schulte on 11-21-2013
I met Nancy when she came into my office at the CASA program in Mitchell. She was interested in becoming a volunteer advocate for the abused and neglected children we served. Before we finished discussing the volunteer position, I asked if she would be interested in working for CASA. She thought about it overnight and agreed the next day. I can only express the impact she made--not only on the program, but the children and myself as well. Nancy always said, "it is all about your history" and I recognize those words as being true every day. I considered Nancy my friend and my mentor. She has left a mark on my life that will always shine--happy trails my friend!
entry posted by Linda Allen on 11-20-2013
I met Nancy and John (with my recently deceased husband) in the early 90's in Annapolis. We had wonderful adventures with them over the years! Many of them revolved around sailing, both in the Chesapeake Bay and bare-boating down in the Islands. Nancy was one of a kind! The most kind, positive, encouraging person I have ever known. She will be in my heart forever. I know her sweet husband, John will miss her most of all. I am so sorry for his terrible loss, and pray that he finds comfort in his friends and all the wonderful memories of their time together.
entry posted by Robin Beckwith on 11-20-2013
As Carol and Victor Palmer's daughter i got to know Nancy through them in Annapolis. She was a cherished friend and also so loving and compassionate. Both my daughter's loved her too. We will remember the times we met them in the Florida Keys and at Mom and Vic's 25th Anniversary party last year. And i do agree with the earlier post that we have gained an angel up in Heaven. My thoughts and prayers for John now. I am so sorry for you now as you grieve the loss of Nancy.
entry posted by carol and victor palmer on 11-20-2013
We met John and Nancy in July of 1988 at a condo party in Annapolis, Maryland We became very close friends. Nancy was the sweetest and most positive person I have ever known. We had so many wonderful times together. Words will never explain how much we will miss her. But we consider ourselves fortunate that we met her and she was our dear friend. Our hearts go out to her wonderful husband John. We'll always be there for him..
entry posted by Cindy Gregg on 11-20-2013
Nancy was the first friend I made when Clay and I moved to South Dakota. We spent two incredibly fun days at a conference in Sioux City, Iowa once - it will always be one of my favorite memories. I am so sad and sorry to learn of Nancy's passing. We have truly gained an angel but I will miss her. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, John.
Cindy and Clay Gregg
entry posted by Carol Holty & Haleigh Johnson on 11-20-2013
So sorry to hear about Nancy. She was a great lady and such an inspiration to Haleigh. She will be missed. Our prayers and thought are with you and your family.
entry posted by Tracy on 11-19-2013
John, I'm so sorry to hear of Nancy's passing. She was a wonderful person.