Ithaca, NY

Nancy Armstrong Clarke was born on September 16, 1926 in Yonkers, NY, the daughter of George and Elizabeth Armstrong.  She graduated from Wilson College in Chambersburg, PA in 1948, and the next day married Mark Goodwin Clarke of Chambersburg.  She lived in Chambersburg for 18 years during which she had five children, volunteered in the Women's Auxiliary, a fund-raising organization for the Chambersburg Hospital, and the Children's Aid Society, and became an English teacher in Chambersburg High School.

In 1966 she moved to Metuchen, NJ, where she also taught high school English and completed her MA in Education at Rutgers University.  While a teacher in Metuchen, she helped students organize a club fund-raiser that brought Jean Shepherd, a popular radio humorist to speak, an event so popular that it not only sold-out, filling a large high school auditorium, but there was almost a riot outside the school when not all who arrived could get a ticket.   In 1970, after the killings of student protesters at Kent State, she supported her students in organizing a teach-in against the war in Vietnam, which was held on the lawn of the school during classes, and was the only teacher who joined the students at the event.  Subsequently she left teaching and joined the Human Resources department at Abraham & Strauss, a department store chain popular in the 1970's.  After a few years she became the head of Human Resources in the Huntington store on Long Island.  Her career continued to be in Human Resources in retail for the rest of her working life.

She retired to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina in 1990.  There she was active in the local Democratic Party and focused her energy on voter registration; the local Democratic party grew from about 500 when she arrived in Hilton Head to over 3000 during the time she was active there.  She also volunteered as a teacher of English as a second language to adult immigrants from all over the world and was active in local efforts to preserve and celebrate the historical gullah culture of Hilton Head's earliest inhabitants.  During this time she also traveled extensively, going to Eastern Europe before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, China, HongKong, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and Australia.

She came to Ithaca, NY, the home of her daughter Carol, when she was no longer able to live independently.  She died at Oak Hill Manor on Friday, December 9, 2016 after suffering a massive stroke.  She is survived by her sister Judy Roos of San Francisco, CA, children Christopher Clarke of Hendersonville, TN, Carol Clarke of Ithaca NY, Rebecca Clarke of Twickenham, England, and her granddaughter Kate Clarke of San Diego, California.

For those who wish, memorial contributions may be directed to the Southern Poverty Law Center at

A funeral service, officiated by Rebecca Schillenback, will begin at 11am, Wednesday, December 14th, at Lansing Funeral Home, 32 Auburn Rd., Lansing, NY, followed by burial at Greensprings Natural Cemetery, Newfield, NY.