Belinda Jacqueline Nash

October 27, 1946February 16, 2016

Mrs. Belinda Nash passed away on the morning of February 16, 2016, after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

She is survived by her husband Herbert Nash. This loving mother also leaves behind a son Donovan Lenaghan (wife Maggie, daughter Lauren), and daughters Kim Gregorio (husband Vince, daughter Cassidy), Danielle Sheets (husband Chris, daughter Kathlene), three stepsons, Doug, Scott and Mike Nash as well as their families. Belinda Nash, formerly Tomsett, is also survived by brothers Don and David and sisters Joyce and Ruth.

Belinda’s achievements as a local author and historian led to the exoneration of Virginia’s only convicted witch, Grace Sherwood, which left Belinda’s mark on our local history. In addition to volunteer work, she also devoted a large part of her life caring for animals and preserving history in our community. Her family and friends will miss her warm smile and her generous nature.

Her family would like to express the sorrow they feel of this loss and ask the public to keep them in their prayers and in lieu of flowers to donate to the Friends of the Ferry Plantation House, 4136 Cheswick Lane, Virginia Beach, VA 23455.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Monday, February 22, 2016, 11:00 a.m. at Old Donation Episcopal Church, 4449 N. Witchduck Road, Virginia Beach, Va.

Friends may offer condolences at

Article from The Virginian Pilot on February 20, 2016. Belinda Nash, a Virginia Beach woman best known for her work to honor the fabled Witch of Pungo, died Tuesday from cancer.

“We lost a historical encyclopedia of the area,” said Gerry Richter, who volunteered with Nash for 30 years.

Nash, 69, was the executive director of the Ferry Plantation House for 20 years, an unpaid position that took up most of her time, said Heather Moore, a board member at the House. She was well-liked and well-known throughout the city.

“It would be hard to find a local who doesn’t know Belinda’s name,” Moore said. “Every single second of her life has been dedicated to Grace Sherwood or Ferry Plantation for the last 20 years.”

Nash took a special interest in Grace Sherwood, the last woman in Virginia to be accused of witchcraft in 1706, and the inspiration for the name of Witchduck Road.

Nash’s interest in local history started when she began volunteering at the historic house.

Thanks to Nash, several parts of Virginia Beach’s history have been meticulously kept.

Sherwood tended a farm and was a midwife, said Bob Perrine, historian at Old Donation Episcopal Church. Nash felt connected to her, having worked as s a pig farmer when she lived in Canada, Moore said.

Sherwood was tried at Old Donation Episcopal, which Nash attended centuries later. No one spoke on behalf of Sherwood at her trial, and she was later dunked in the Lynnhaven River to determine whether she was a witch. If Sherwood floated, it was proof she was a witch. She served a seven-year jail sentence after she floated and moved to Pungo when her sentence was finished.

“When Belinda started reading about her, I think she thought she would be close friends with her,” said Perrine. “That she would stand for her and fight for her.”

Nash researched Sherwood for 20 years, and asked Old Donation Episcopal to apologize and memorialize Sherwood with a statue. The church’s vestry, which is similar to a board of directors, said statues should be reserved for religious figures, according to Perrine. She avoided church until they allowed a statue of Sherwood, Perrine said, and turned her attention to the state government. In 2006, thanks to Nash’s efforts, Gov. Tim Kaine issued a pardon and apology to Sherwood.

He was the third governor Nash contacted about Sherwood, Moore said.

The next year, a Grace Sherwood statue was constructed outside of Bayside Sentara Hospital, next to Old Donation Episcopal. Nash donated $40,000 of her own money for the $93,000 bronze statue, Perrine said.

She didn’t attend Old Donation Episcopal again until 2014, Perrine said, when a historic marker about Sherwood was installed in the church’s herb garden.

Despite being Canadian and moving to Virginia Beach about 30 years ago, Nash’s absence will make keeping history a lot harder, Perrine said. She had documents and stories that she gathered on her own and left many of them with the Ferry Plantation House.

Nash also dedicated her time to running the Ferry Plantation House, which relies completely on volunteers. She did renovation projects at the house, led tours and spent $6,000 to install a historically accurate brick oven, Moore said.

The night before her death, she held a board meeting for the historic house at her own home, Richter said.

“Even though she wasn’t at the Ferry, her mind was still there,” said Moore, who is a nurse and helped Nash with her illness.

Nash’s medical problems began about four years ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy, said Moore, who considered Nash her second mom. After that, Nash had a kidney removed and was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Most recently, doctors diagnosed Nash with lung cancer, Moore said.

“It never stopped her from coming to the house, or giving tours,” Moore said. “I never met anybody who was such a fighter.”

A public service for Nash will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Old Donation Episcopal Church, 4449 N. Witchduck Road. Instead of flowers, the family has asked for donations to Friends of the Ferry Plantation House.


  • Celebration of Life Monday, February 22, 2016

Belinda Jacqueline Nash

have a memory or condolence to add?

Kim Williamson

April 13, 2017

I am just learning of Belinda's passing, and am so very saddened! What a wonderful, delightful lady who offered so much to our community. One of my sons attended her Living History Summer Camp at Ferry Plantation House. We instantly knew what a special lady she was. My son was extremely shy, and she had him comfortable and thoroughly enjoying himself in no time at all. My whole family learned so much from his participating in that summer camp. We will never forget her, and her compassion for people and history preservation. She was quite a lady, and will always be thought of so fondly!

Sabrina Ricketts

March 13, 2016

Belinda was a welcoming woman and I deeply admired her dedication to Ferry Plantation. She will be greatly missed.

Lynne Keeler

March 5, 2016

We met Belinda through paranormal investigations at The FErry House Plantation. She was a wonderfully warm and loving person. Gave every bit of herself to her calling. She will be greatly missed and always deeply love. Blessings, Lynne and Walt Keeler

March 3, 2016

Belinda was the little sister every brother should have. She was a delight to have around as you never knew what to expect from her. We will always miss her and will be in our heart forever.
Dave & Jeannette Tomsett

Tammy Rosser

March 1, 2016

So saddened to hear of her passing. She was such a wonderful historian, she had so much passion for history and for Ferry Plantation. Heartfelt condolences to her family.

Jim Durkee

February 24, 2016

My sincere condolences to all the family for their loss. It was an especially beautiful service and it was very comforting to hear everyone's memories and stories about Belinda. I remember when she first got me involved with the Ferry Plantation House with helping Donovan build the brick mailbox. What started off as a couple of hours ended up being many, many years of dunkings, pumpkin flings, new friends, and all other sorts of things!

Virginia Historical Tea Scoiety

February 22, 2016

Belinda was the heart and soul of Ferry. She will be deeply missed and remain in our hearts forever. We are proud to have known her and have her as a member in our society. Our condolences to the family.

Laura Scott

February 21, 2016

Belinda will be missed by many and we have great memories to treasure. We are praying for her family God Bless,
Laura, Glenn,
Heather, and
Rachel Scott

Rob Williams & Family

February 20, 2016

I had the great pleasure of knowing Belinda Nash. She did so many great things, it's hard to pick one that hasn't been mentioned already. Her generosity towards everyone tops my list. Belinda was the first to introduce me to Figgy Pudding at one of her Charles Dickens Tea Party's at The Ferry Plantation House. I was fond of Belinda's many live re-enactments of The Trial of Grace Surewood, aka The Witch of Pungo, I could go on, as I'm sure all who knew her could. Belinda left her mark in history, and I'm proud to have known her.

February 20, 2016

So sorry to hear of the loss of such a lovely and giving person, who was so passionate about everything and everyone she loved. She will be missed by many.

Please accept our condolences, and may our prayers help comfort you.

The Virginia Tea Society