Nancy E. Blethen, 83, passed away peacefully on November 28, 2023, with Bill Blethen, her loving husband of 61 years, by her side at The Garden Memory Care at Pine Run, Doylestown, Pa.
The loving daughter of Joseph and Dorothy Elliott, Nancy was born in Schenectady, N.Y., and raised in Johnstown, N.Y. Growing up she celebrated birthdays and holidays with her very close extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins where she vividly remembers discussing history and current events. In seventh grade, Nancy met Bill, a fellow student. They became friends and eventually started dating in high school.
A lifelong athlete, she was proud of being the first and only girl to play on the sixth-grade boys baseball team. She was active in Girl Scouts throughout her youth and served as a camp counselor, where her leadership skills flourished.
After graduating from Johnstown High School, Nancy attended Tufts University Jackson College for Women, earning a BA in History. A month after graduation, she married Bill, the love of her life. Together they embarked on a lifelong partnership built on love, trust, faith and hard work. They raised two children and lived in Haddonfield, N.J., East Brunswick, N.J., Upper Montclair, N.J., and Doylestown, Pa.
Throughout her career Nancy strove to break barriers for women. She taught English and History at Sterling High School in Somerdale, N.J., where she convinced school administrators to allow her to take students to Princeton, N.J., to see Shakesperean plays. As a young mother in East Brunswick in the mid-1970s, she became active in local politics, volunteering for the League of Women Voters, working on school board elections, and eventually campaigning and winning two terms on the East Brunswick Township Council, where her colleagues elected her Council President. During this time, she also earned a master’s degree in education from Rutgers University.
Leveraging her leadership, political, and communication skills, Nancy joined Coleman & Pellet Inc., a public relations firm, in 1980 – the only woman applicant among more than 100 candidates – as chief media spokesperson for New Jersey’s property/casualty insurance companies during the state’s auto insurance crisis. Later, Nancy was named vice president at the firm, counseling business and government clients on risk and crisis communications, an exciting, fast-paced role she loved. In 1989 Nancy founded her own PR firm, B&Y Communications, eventually hiring a colleague as partner, where they specialized in crisis and healthcare communications. She retired in 2000 and sold the successful firm to her partner.
An expert golfer, Nancy played wherever and whenever possible, achieving club championship status with four holes-in-one. She also loved to ski, garden, exercise, cycle, travel the world, host dinner parties, cook, and collect wine. Her happiest times were spent on adventures with Bill, and family gatherings and vacations with their children and grandchildren. “Life is good” is an expression she often voiced.
An active member of the United Church of Christ, Nancy served in numerous volunteer capacities for Union Congregational Church, Montclair, N.J., and Pleasantville Church, Chalfont, Pa. She also volunteered her PR and marketing skills for Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA) and worked at NOVA’s thrift store.
Nancy will be lovingly remembered by Bill; her daughter Kimberly Blethen Rotondo (Robert Rotondo); her son, Christopher Blethen (Nancy Sneiderman Blethen); her four grandchildren, Alexander Rotondo, Olivia Rotondo, Emily Blethen and Julia Blethen; and her sister Carol Elliott Fetters.
A celebration of life service will be held Saturday, January 6, 2024, at Pleasantville Church, 3424 Limekiln Pike, Chalfont, PA 18914. Visitation at 10:00 a.m. and service at 11:00 a.m. Donations may be made in Nancy’s memory to NOVA (www.novabucks.org) or A Women’s Place (www.awomansplace.org) both located in Bucks County, Pa.