Nancy Lucille Cox, a resident of Vineyard Haven since 1969, died peacefully at home and surrounded by family members on February 27. She was 86 years old.
She graduated from Oberlin College with honors in speech and drama. She has spent much of her adult life performing in professional, college and community theater at home and abroad. While on the island, she appeared in productions at the Vineyard Playhouse and the Island Theater Workshop. She enjoyed all of her roles, but some favorites were Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Ariel in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Linda Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Hedda in Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, and Serafina in The Rose Tennessee Williams tattoo.
Offstage, she coordinated a weekly play-reading group at the Tisbury Senior Center for four years and worked as a secretary at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services and WMVY radio.
Nancy has been interested all her life in the relationship between theater and religion. Prior to living on the island, she completed a graduate program in religious theater taught jointly by the School of Theology and the School of Fine and Applied Arts at Boston University. She was one of the founders of the Boston Area Religious Drama Service and has performed many shows at Boston area churches.
In 2002, she became a member of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Martha’s Vineyard. She served on the worship committee and used her theater training to help design and evaluate effective liturgy.
Although they divorced after 29 years of marriage, Nancy and theologian Harvey Cox remained good friends throughout their lives and shared a similar global vision in their respective work.
She had a tendency to recite a line of Shakespeare or a poem by Billy Collins from memory in unexpected places or under unusual circumstances, such as at the doctor’s office or in conversation with a telemarketer. She knew the species, behaviors and songs of every bird that visited her multiple feeders. With a twinkle in her eye, she would lighten any mood with her dry but respectful sense of humor.
She is survived by her daughter Rachel Cox and her husband Peter Kelemen, her son Martin Cox and his wife Elaine, her daughter Sarah Marshall and her husband Nick; grandchildren Sara and Luci Kelemen, Logan, Ethan and Milo Cox, and Max, Josie and Miles Marshall; his brother Ed Nieburger and his Gayle, and his nephew Braden Nieburger.
A memorial ceremony will take place at a later date.
Donations may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Society of Martha’s Vineyard or Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.