Nancy Southgate Jones Strong, age 91 years, of Clinton Township, NJ, died on Saturday, June 23, 2018 at Rolling Hills Care Center, Clinton Township, NJ.
Born in Durham, NC, June 11, 1927, daughter of the late Southgate Jones and Nancy Green Jones, she had resided in Clinton Township for the past year, having lived the majority of her life in Bernardsville and Bedminster, NJ.
Majoring in French, Nancy earned her B.A. from Hollins College, Roanoke, VA in 1949. She was retired from the Morris County, New Jersey Park System where she held various positions over the years. She used to remark that she did not feel that she was at work, because she truly loved what she did.
Part of her job as well as volunteerism efforts involved working with Willowwood Arboretum in Bedminster, NJ. She was a major force involved in many of their programs and projects, including, the “Ginger Bread House Show,” the “Harvest Show,” the “Lilac Party” and many more. She was passionate about helping cultivate the Arboretum and its offerings, as well as expanding its nature and beauty.
A true, “Renaissance Woman,” Nancy was caring, honest, dedicated and faithful in everything she did.
One of her main passions was gardening, hence why her job was never really considered work. Really, anything to do with plants, flowers and the outdoors always peaked her interest.
She was a beloved and legendary member of the Garden Club of Somerset Hills (GCSH) since 1970. Affectionately known by many members as the Mother of the Garden Club, her caring and kind nature earned her the nickname of “Nicely.” Nancy held the office of President of the GCSH twice, and also held the prestigious national title of Zone Chair.
She co-founded the New Jersey Committee of the Garden Club of America 30 years ago and remained Honorary Co-Chair until her death. This organization still thrives today, having raised close to $500,000 in funds that have been given out as grants throughout New Jersey. These grants assist with projects involving conservation, historic preservation, and horticultural education.
Additionally, these funds help award three annual scholarships for Rutgers University students majoring in Plant Science and Agriculture.
When speaking about Nancy, one also must reflect upon her love of God and her deep and abiding faith. She was a life member of St. John on the Mountain Episcopal Church in Bernardsville, NJ, and was the first woman to serve on its Vestry.
As her dear friend, Rev. Ron Pollock said in a resolution presented to her in 1997, “the Vestry of St. John on the Mountain expresses to Nancy S. J. Strong its highest esteem and profound thankfulness for leadership and love she so consistently offered here to the glory of Jesus Christ, Our Lord.”
Furthermore, the resolution went on to say, “Unanimously adopted at the 385th regular meeting, on the evening of November 17, 1997, the following resolution: Whereas Nancy S. J. Strong was duly elected to three consecutive terms as Warden of this church; and led the parish with dedication, wisdom, and effectiveness in the office from 1991 to 1997; and Whereas she has served the parish for three decades in a variety of ministries which include the Vestry, the Fellowship Commission, the Mountain Art Show, the Mission and Outreach Commission, the Church School, St. John’s Nursery School, and the Lay Eucharistic Ministers; and Whereas Nancy was a founding member of the Pastoral Care Committee and of the House Group which met in her home for reflection, study of Holy Scripture, and prayers; and Whereas Nancy’s leadership blessed the rector, Vestry and the entire parish with such gifts of the Holy Spirit as patience, grace, pastoral concern, prayerfulness, cheerfulness, and peacefulness; therefore be it resolved that the Vestry of St. John on the Mountain wishes to express to Nancy S. J. Strong its highest esteem and profound thankfulness for leadership and love she so consistently offered here to the glory of Jesus Christ, Our Lord.”
This resolution shows that Nancy not only talked the talk, but also walked the walk as the old adage goes. She believed in the famous words of the 23rd Psalm which opens with, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” and she followed His teachings of love and caring in all that she did.
Following this resolution, Nancy gave many more years of dedicated service to the church. Each year she worked the Art Show and always blocked out her calendar to be there for the receiving of art work, the judging and then the sales, followed by clean up. She truly wanted to be a part of it all. She also spent many more years on the Vestry and could often be found at the church on a Saturday afternoon/evening arranging flowers for the next day.
From 1960-1967, Nancy lived in England where her husband was working at the time. Her family often jokes that Nancy was the “Southern Belle” who morphed into a “British Grand Dame”.
She embraced the British culture during the years she lived there, and treasured her memories of that time, especially the people, the antiques, the history and the friends and family she loved so much.
Everywhere Nancy lived during her life, she always made certain she designed and cultivated a beautiful garden, usually with her favorite flowers, Jonquils and Sun Flowers, having a prominent spot.
She even designed an English Garden upon returning to the United States, complete with aged bricks for the garden walks (which she had her children go to salvage yards in Newark to pick up and lay in place).
One of the most important designs however, was of the Memorial Garden at St. John on the Mountain and it was her long time wish that upon her death to be laid to rest there.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her former spouses, Charles L. de Rohan and John Van Rensselaer Strong.
Surviving are her children and their spouses, Elizabeth de Rohan and Kelly Farrell of Lopatcong, NJ, Raoul and Patricia de Rohan of Coppell, TX and Geoffrey and Helen de Rohan of Knoxville, TX; her grandchildren, Christopher, Peter and Nicholas Valley and Rembert, Corinne, Catherine and Maria de Rohan; her great grandchildren, Kaylyn, Tyler, Amber, Addison and Charlotte Valley; her great great granddaughter, Allison; three dear friends, Sue Ely, Chris Smith and Marion Trousouff; several extended family members; and many dear friends made throughout the years.
Life celebration services celebrated by Rev. Susan Ironside and Rev. Ron Pollack will take place on Friday, August 3, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. in St. John on the Mountain Episcopal Church, 379 Mount Harmony Road, Bernardsville, NJ 07924 under the care and direction of Wright & Ford Family Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 38 State Highway 31, Flemington, NJ.
Interment will be in the St. John on the Mountain Memorial Garden following the services.
There are no calling hours at the funeral home.
A luncheon will follow the services in the Church’s Great Hall, to which all are invited.
Please visit Nancy’s permanent memorial site at www.wrightfamily.com where one can light a candle and leave a message of condolence and words of comfort, as well as share stories and photographs of her life.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the New Jersey Committee of the Garden Club of America, Attn: Ellen Hochberger, 85 Woodland Avenue, Summit, NJ 07901. In the memo line, please make the notation: “In memory of Nancy J. Strong”.
Date: Friday, August 3, 2018
Time: 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Life celebration services at St. John on the Mountain Episcopal Church, 379 Mount Harmony Road, Bernardsville, NJ 07924 will be announced.
Cremation was private at the Chapel of Ewing Crematory. Burial of Nancy’s cremated remains will take place in the memorial garden of the Church following the Life Celebration service on Friday, August 3, 2018 at 11:00 a.m.