A mother, writer, and lifelong nurse, Nancy Lamoureux is now enjoying a little leisure time in her beautiful farmhouse on Lopez Island. A native of California, this is her first winter here.
Nancy was born in 1933 in Minneapolis, MN. “A friend pointed out that I’ll be 3/4 of a century this March,” she said with a rueful smirk. She describes her childhood as “not so hot.” She and her three siblings were raised by their single mother until she developed tuberculosis at age 28. The siblings were split up and sent to different relatives, and Nancy went to live with her father and stepmother in California. “At age eight I rode the train by myself to California.” Nancy started working as a teenager, and says she has “literally been on my own since I was 16.”
After graduating from high school, Nancy attended junior college in the San Fernando Valley, where she met her future husband, Everett Jenks, a philosophy instructor. “I loved to listen to him lecture. Boy was he good. He was a bright man.” After college, she enrolled in the Los Angeles County General Hospital program for nurses. It was a 4000-bed hospital, and “it felt like the busiest ER center in the world.” The program, which was run in a “convent style,” had strict rules about its students. “You couldn’t be married or pregnant or over 35 and be in the program.” While on a school break, Nancy became pregnant and was forced to drop out.
She married Everett in 1954 and was a “1950s housewife for a long time.” Together they had four children: Nancy, Richard, Tom, and Robin. In 1971, Nancy and Everett divorced. “My kids have done pretty well with their lives.” Nancy, their daughter, is a mom and wife, Tom is an international airline pilot, and Robin, a teacher, has a degree in business law and is working on her masters degree in library science. Richard passed away in 2006.
Nancy regretted not finishing nursing school, so at 33, while still a wife and mother, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from UCLA. She later earned her Masters in Nursing from California State University. She has worked in several hospitals, all in California, initially specializing in respiratory disease, and later holding various supervisory positions.
While she was Director of Nursing for a medical home-care facility, she says: “I was never so bored. I sat in an office with my credentials and waited for Medicare to call and then I assigned nurses to the home-care patients. I would have rather had more direct patient and family contact. How can you truly care for people unless you know about their home situation?” Nancy moved on to a new position after only five months.
Her longest job was 17 years as a nursing supervisor on the evening shift. “It was a good time to be there because I got to do rounds and talk with patients and families.”
Nancy has been a writer all her life, and in 1997 Vista Publishing released the first of a three-book mystery series centered around the hospital community. “By Prescription Only,” “Never be a Witness,” and “Conrad Capers” all feature heroine Marian Bradbury, a nurse.
Nancy is most proud of her 2006 novel, “Lies, Letters, and the Ring,” released by Publish America. Nancy first began the book in 1980 and did “a lot of research,” traveling to Vermont and London. “‘Lies, Letters, and the Ring’ is my signature book. If I never wrote another novel that book would stand alone.” It is available in the Los Angeles Public Library.
“What I like best is to give copies to book clubs and then go to the meetings after they’ve read the book so we can discuss it. The response to this novel has been very good. I didn’t know what to expect.”
Nancy studied writing for 14 years with well-known instructor F.A. Rockwell in California. “We collaborated on a couple of things. We wrote a book together, but it was never published.” Nancy plans to rework that novel, which will be her fourth Marian Bradbury mystery.
Nancy’s parents bought a house on Shaw in 1966, and after visiting them “I knew I wanted to buy a house and live in the islands. I picked Lopez because it’s closest to the mainland and has a nice golf course.” She fell in love with her 1912 farmhouse, which was built by Thomas Graham, while driving by. “We stopped and looked around the property. An art class was painting there, and I really resented those people being on my land!” she laughed. She bought the house in 1989 and has been gradually restoring it. It is now on the State Registry for Historic Homes.
“I always have a project, and the house has been a big one.” Nancy keeps a memory book of visitors’ impressions of the house. “The island is so great. I don’t think of the house as mine forever. I think of it as the Thomas Graham home.” Both Donna Graham and Linda Rose were a big help to Nancy in researching its history.
Nancy has spent her vacations on Lopez since she bought the house, returning to California where she worked as a nurse until she retired in 1997. She decided to live here full-time this summer, and is spending her first winter here.
“Life is good. Once you retire, your schedule is however you want it. I get up around seven, putter around the house, and I end up only going to the village about once a week. I am happy being right here in my home. I have a lot of wonderful friends who visit.”
Although Nancy likes to bake cookies, she hates cooking. “If a recipe has more than five ingredients I can’t do it.” She doesn’t like to garden either, but she adores having one, so a landscaper comes once a week. Nancy loves to play the piano and organ. “My music is very important to me, especially Mozart.”
Nancy used to travel to China often, but stopped going after Tiananmen Square. “I was so outraged. I wouldn’t visit a country whose government could destroy its citizens.” Many items in her home are from China. Nancy says she “doesn’t have the energy or interest in traveling anymore” and is content to enjoy Lopez, write, and visit with friends. “I love Lopez auctions, but I have to take a friend with me to sit on the paddle!”
If you would like to suggest someone for Spotlight on Seniors please e-mail email@example.com.