Nancy Catherine Cary
August 14, 1951 – January 18, 2020
Nancy Catherine Cary—writer, teacher, storyteller, gardener, birdwatcher, and beloved family matriarch—passed away on January 18, 2020, in San Diego, with family at her side. She was 68.
Born on August 14, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois, Nancy was the oldest daughter of Dr. Lawrence and Marilyn DeBusk. The family moved to Sunnyvale, California in 1956, and later settled in Los Altos. She attended area schools including Oak Elementary, Blach Junior High, and Awalt High (Class of 1969).
Nancy earned her Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Oregon in 1973. A lifelong learner, Nancy also held Master of Fine Arts and Master of Art degrees from San Diego State University. A resident of San Diego since 1983, Nancy had a long and successful career at San Diego City College (1985-2012). She was a professor of creative writing, English composition and American literature, with a special interest in peace studies. She was department chair for seven years, and served as the learning disabilities specialist in Disabled Students Programs and Services for 10 years. She was also an active member of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Guild Local 1931, and served as past vice-president. An accomplished writer, Nancy was crafting her memoir at the time of her death. She was a founding board member of San Diego City Works Press, and coordinated the publication of CityWorks Literary Journal. She served as chief editor of the anthology, Hunger and Thirst, Food Literature. Other writing accolades include stories for San Diego CityBeat, San Diego Magazine, and San Diego Reader City Lights; literary works and reviews in Rattle, and Sunshine Noir II; and an introduction to Lantern Tree, Four Books of Poems.
Among her many passions was So Say We All (SSWA), a literary/performing arts nonprofit in San Diego. She first performed on the So Say We All VAMP stage in 2013 and then volunteered in all capacities, from writing coach to service on the SSWA board, including secretary and president. Nancy was well-read, had eclectic taste in music, and loved to travel and cook. A lifelong dog-lover, she was especially fond of Shelties, Corgis, and her current rescue dog, Wally. She enjoyed many dog walks with her son, Guy, and his dogs throughout the years. She was also a lifelong San Francisco Giants fan—collecting baseball cards and covering her childhood ball cap with pins of her favorite players. Nancy was never far from the beach, and could be found boogie boarding in her free time.
Nancy grew up Roman Catholic, and was spiritual throughout her life. She had a calling for taking care of others, especially in their last days, and helped many friends and colleagues with illnesses. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, sister and friend, she especially enjoyed spending time with and watching her granddaughter Skye grow up.
Nancy is survived by her husband, Don, of San Diego; son Guy Kelsey (Eden), and granddaughter Skye; her brothers Steve of San Jose, Calif., Jim (Tracey) of Flagstaff, Ariz., and Bob (Cheri) of Santa Clara, Calif.; and sister Sharon (Tom) of Tucson, Arizona. She is pre-deceased by her parents Lawrence and Marilyn DeBusk. A private burial was held at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in San Diego. A Celebration of Life service is pending.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to one of the following:
• So Say We All (literary and performing arts) sosayweallonline.com
• Animal Rescue Friends of Idyllwild arfidyllwild.weebly.com
- Clarification: The graveside service for Nancy Cary at Holy Cross Cemetery will be a private, family ceremony. Regretfully, it was originally miscommunicated as open to the public. Please honor the families’ request to have Nancy’s service be private
Nancy Catherine Cary
February 11, 2020
I got to know Nancy over the past six months when we were both in a memoir read and critique group, although we had met briefly some years before through So Say We All. But during those six months, where we met with a handful of other writers once a week for two and a half hours to share memoir writing, I grew to know her as a thoughtful reader and writer and a generous critique partner. Her insights on others' writing were spot-on and helpful while always being mindful of the vulnerable nature of sharing this most personal work. As a writer she was open and willing to accept feedback with a generous heart as well. She was kind and gentle, yet fearless. I and the others in our critique group will greatly miss getting to spend time with her each week. I also had the opportunity to see two of her VAMP performances over the years, where she exhibited those same qualities. Even though I did not know her for long, I miss her. My condolences to her family— know that she touched a great many people.
January 21, 2020
She was love by many and will be dearly missed, She was my friend, I will miss her loving smile, She was sweet and kind. I will miss her dearly
January 21, 2020
I will miss your smile and warm hugs. Letting go and letting God hold you in his arms.