With the sad passing of Nancy Nagle Kelley, the planet, the country, the state, the county, the waterways and open spaces of Long Island, and the street she lived on have all lost a dedicated advocate and hard worker at a time when people like her are rare and sorely needed.
She was ever the conservationist, preservationist, realist and naturalist. I first met her and Carolyn Zenk years ago at the tiny office of the Group for the South Fork in Bridgehampton, where I went in desperation to get help to stave off the effects of an out-of-control, illegal, toxic composting dump operating next door to me in a residential neighborhood. Both she and Carolyn were fresh-faced natural beauties who seemed to have sprung from the foam of the ocean, albeit with surfboards.
They and the fledgling group were young, filled with energy and purpose, waging a necessary fight against the burgeoning odds of exploitative development, craven local corruption and a wall of 1950s smug male bonhomie and privilege. They saw it as their duty to protect and hold on to the natural beauty of their world.
In my egregious situation, the Department of Environmental Conservation was enabling the pollution; the town and village willfully ignored their own laws and pretended that their hands were tied, while building inspectors and “enforcement” people refused to visit the site. Fred Thiele was supervisor then and busy honing his skills, seeming to address the situation while retarding it, conniving to use the public as a battering ram against the entrenched interests, regardless of the personal costs.
Nancy, Carolyn and the group helped us fight the odds.
To read of Nancy’s achievements in her obituary is to rise to honor her achievements. Her energy and purpose were grounded and not deterred. She was neither dogmatic nor an ideologue but followed the path she set herself on.
Her family must be bereft at this early goodbye, as anyone who knew her, or worked with her, or she worked for, must be today. Hats in the air and a fanfare for her well-lived life.
One fine body…