Nancy Francis Box Schoenke lived a remarkable life. One might assume it was because she rubbed shoulders with some big names in Washington (Our dad Ray likes to point out she was never intimidated by any of them.). That is not what we think of when remembering her and it was definitely not an important part of her life. She would only look back on those encounters as having developed some fond friendships. Nancy could have lived anywhere but she wanted her family to grow up in Laytonsville, MD, a small farming community.
Nancy was many things. Yes she was a daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother; she was also an adventurer, a scholar, an advocate, an environmentalist, and a philanthropist.
Her compassion for everything and everyone around her was profound. She was composting and recycling before most even knew the terms and, to her children’s horror, would follow individuals who had thrown garbage out their car window until she had the opportunity to personally chastise them. She was an advocate for gun control and women’s involvement in politics decades before it became a part of the national dialogue. Nancy donated to causes both nationally and internationally. She also understood the importance of helping in her local community, running a weekly women’s support group for victims of domestic violence and volunteering both as a driver for Gaithersburg HELP and as a children’s Court Appointed Special Advocate for Montgomery County.
Her curiosity of the world and desire for self-improvement drove her to not only take classes in a variety of subjects, but also spurred her love of travel. She studied Spanish, Cultural Anthropology, Acting, Modern Dance, and earned both a Master of Family Counseling and a Master Gardener certification. As far as traveling, she saw the world.
These few examples only begin to scratch the surface of who Nancy was; however, Nancy’s greatest feat was passing on these traits to us, her three children, who in turn have tried to pass them on to our children. We seemed to spend the summers at the Smithsonian museums, galleries, and zoo. We helped with composting and rode with her when she drove for HELP. And because of our mom, we were able to travel the world as well.
Although our mom is no longer physically with us, she lives in her family, her friends, and all the others she touched throughout her life. She will be missed and celebrated.
Nancy passed away at her home in Laytonsville surrounded by her family February 11, 2020. This Spring at peak bloom, per her wishes, we plan to spread Nancy’s ashes among the gardens she so lovingly created. (Celebration of Life to be announced)
In lieu of sending flowers to the family, please make a donation to either The Michael J. Fox Foundation (michaeljfox.org) or The Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area (parkinsonfoundation.org) to help find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease.
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