Nancy Christine Erickson, 73, passed away Thursday afternoon, September 27, at her home in Edison. She maintained her generosity of heart and upbeat spirit throughout her illness. An educator, she enjoyed a career spanning 34 years in the service of the South Plainfield community.
Born on June 6, 1945 to Ida and Eric Erickson, Nancy grew up on Staten Island. From her earliest moments, she was enveloped in a warm, close-knit family with circles of relatives reaching back to Scandinavia. Her parents, both loving and kind, provided the examples she would emulate for how one is to comport oneself as well as the conviviality with which she would do so. The childhood bond shared between Nancy and her sister, Maren, deepened in adulthood to become a central pillar of both their lives.
In her youth, a seemingly boundless energy and athleticism were evident in a host of activities. She studied piano, ballet, pointe and tap dancing, she ran in annual races at school and church, played softball and handball, and ice and roller-skated. She was a Girl Scout from Brownie through Senior Scout. At New Dorp High School, she was a member of the Honor Society, cheerleader captain, and participated in the school yearbook and newspaper and other clubs.
Nancy received a Bachelor of Science Degree from SUNY Cortland. She later earned a Master's Degree from Kean University. In 1971, Nancy started teaching at South Plainfield High School as a physical education teacher where she started both womens' track and field and cross-country teams. In 1989, she became assistant principal at S.P.H.S. and in 1994 she became the principal of Franklin Elementary School. After retiring in 2005, she returned to serve as an interim principal at John F Kennedy Elementary School as well as a field supervisor for teachers in training at Caldwell University.
At the Franklin School, she matched the students' youthful exuberance with her own. Each Halloween, she and the students paraded in costume in town. Nancy's costume choices expressed her love of country and the importance of patriotic service. At the head of the parade, she variously represented an astronaut, a firefighter, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, the American eagle as well as a Viking. Every Veterans Day she invited men and women who had served in the armed forces to participate in a school assembly held in recognition of their service to the country.
Nancy engaged teaching with enthusiasm and integrity, seeking to instill these qualities in her students. Her earnestness as an educator was balanced by a natural sense of humor. She worked to enrich the school experience for students and teachers alike. Nancy mentored younger teachers, sharing her insights. Over a decades-long career rooted in South Plainfield, she re-established friendships with former students who reappeared as the parents of current students and often as fellow teachers.
Family and friends knew that the doors of her home were always open as she sustained the close-knit family circle inherited from her youth. Nancy was a ready host for gatherings of all kinds: Christmas, summer, retirement, wedding, etc. Relatives who might not otherwise see each other would connect at her annual parties, and the parties were fun. In addition to frequent hosting, she made a number of trips to visit relatives in Norway and Sweden, and there explored her roots. After her mother, Ida, suffered a heart attack, she moved in with Nancy, where she remained until her passing fifteen years later.
At all times, Nancy had a light touch, a ready smile and an infectious sense of humor. She was upbeat and concerned for others throughout her life. Even through her illness, Nancy continued to keep up the spirits of others. Her loss is sudden and great and she will be sorely missed.
In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer donations to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Research, in her memory.