Nancy Williams of Sag Harbor died on March 5 at Stony Brook University Hospital, following a brief illness. She was 93.
Born in Brooklyn to young parents on December 12, 1927, Ms. Williams made her own way from an early age, her family said, firmly committed to her intellectual and academic pursuits. She attended New Utrecht High School, graduating in 1945, followed by studies at NYU, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree.
Ms. Williams was an avid reader and writer, editor and arts lover. Her career culminated when she became a managing editor at Time Life, but after her retirement, she continued to write and take meticulous notes, and had an active correspondence.
Her husband, John Williams, also worked in the newspaper industry, and they originally lived on West 4th Street, in Greenwich Village. In the 1970s, the couple moved to Sagaponack, but after Mr. Williams’s death, Ms. Williams undertook a series of real estate ventures, buying, remodeling, and selling numerous properties with the help of architect Paul Rogers. In 1979, Ms. Williams moved to Sag Harbor, first living at the corner of Main Street and Glover Street, before eventually settling on Redwood.
While in her house on Main Street, Ms. Williams befriended Ben Menaik, who became her long-time companion until his death in 2006. Mr. Menaik taught Ms. Williams all about Sag Harbor — the land, the water, regional high and low tides, and also introduced her to the joys of fishing.
Along with a passion for the news, history, and politics, Ms. Williams adored good food, animals, and had a green thumb, her family said, noting that she loved watching birds visit from a window-filled room addition she had built off the back of her house in Redwood, and especially cared for deer and other four-legged friends she would feed with leftovers from her kitchen.
Ms. Williams loved gardening, according to her family, and had cultivated multiple rose varieties, rose of Sharon, fig trees, and perennials, including variegated vinca, and several special varieties of lily of the valley. She often shared some of those perennials with friends and neighbors, and her lily of the valley lives on in several properties in Sag Harbor.
Ms. Williams was predeceased by her sister Carol in 1973; her husband John in 1975;, and her mother, Marie Iucci, in 2001.
She is survived by her niece, Madelaine Saia and Ms. Saia’s children Kristin and Michael; and many friends.
She will be interred with her mother and sister at Oakland Cemetery, but she did not want any services. Instead, her family said, those who remember her should follow Ms. Williams’s advice regarding planting and sowing seeds, especially in early March, with an eye for the coming Spring: “Home gardens should sow from March 1st,” she wrote in 1974, and for asparagus, we should “clean out winter debris from beds, add bonemeal and super phosphate around plants, and apply fresh mulch.”
Having beaten three cancers and lived through increasing isolation due to COVID-19, these are all surely words to live by, her family said.