Obituary: Nancy van Voorhees, former Darien resident, widely read, masterful entertainer
Nancy van Voorhees, 91, widow of Clifford Irving van Voorhees Jr., died at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida on Sept. 13, surrounded by members of her family.
A resident of McKeen Towers, West Palm Beach, Florida, since 2010, she was born in Manhattan, the eldest daughter of Dr. Arthur L. Washburn and his wife, the former Sona de Got. As Nancy Wickes Washburn, she graduated from New York’s Convent of the Sacred Heart, and made her debut in 1942. She married her husband, then an Army Aviation Cadet, at Maxwell Field, Alabama, on Nov. 27, 1943. After the war and after "Irv" finished his law degree the couple moved to Farmington, CT, and later lived in Gstaad, Switzerland, Darien, Southampton, Long Island, and Palm Beach, Florida.
Besides devoting her life to raising five children, Mrs. van Voorhees was passionate and widely read in matters of faith, religion, philosophy and sociology. In her younger years, she wrote poetry, ministered to the blind, and taught nursery school. In her Gstaad and Southampton days, she was known for her masterful entertaining, often hosting impromptu dinners and musicales for the family and the couple’s many friends.
Through her father, she was a descendant of William Washbourne, a patentee of Hempstead, Long Island. in 1647, and one of the purchasers of Oyster Bay, Long Island, from the Matinecock Indians in 1653. Her mother belonged to the de Got family of France, which included Bertrand de Got, a collateral descendant, who was Clement V, the first pope of Avignon (1305-1314).
Mrs. van Voorhees was predeceased by her husband in 2002 and by her youngest child Peter Cortland van Voorhees. She is survived by her children, Clifford I. van Voorhees III of Darien, Roger Washburn van Voorhees of Fairfield, Victoria Grey and Sona Reese, both of Palm Beach, as well as eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She was pre-deceased by her sisters, Elisabeth Deihle and Joan Coyle, and her brother A. Lawrence Washburn Jr. She is also survived by two sisters, Cornelia Granger and Camilla Donnelly.
Burial will take place at the Southampton Cemetery, Southampton, Long Island on Sept.26, at 11 a.m.
Memorial contributions in memory of Nancy van Voorhees may made to Lourdes-Noreen McKeen,a not-for-profit Carmelite Sisters retirement center, at 315 South Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach, FL 33401 lourdesmckeen.org/