Friends General Conference

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Nancy Schutt Cantwell Memorial Minute

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March 23, 1930-November 16, 2018

Nancy Cantwell will be remembered for her dedication and service in a variety of roles throughout her life. She had a background with Quakers from her home in Pennsylvania and
schooling at Westtown and became a Member of Cannon Valley Friends Meeting (CVFM) in 1982. In her letter requesting membership, she recognized that right away her help would be needed with Friends General Conference at Carleton in 1986. She provided quiet, strong leadership as clerk of the Meeting, as well as playful, engaged guidance with First Day School students, well into her 70s. Nancy enjoyed being creative and made simple toys for the children to use. During the period when CVFM regularly met in homes, she often opened her home on Nevada Street and at Village on the Cannon for worship.

Nancy was active in the Northfield community in a variety of ways. She worked in the Carleton Library and at the Northfield Arts Guild. She was involved with the League of Women Voters and with democratic party efforts. Nancy was a serious reader, finding special enjoyment of literature through her book group. In addition, she was involved in writers’ groups. One of her poems appears as part of Northfield’s Sidewalk Poetry Project:

"Belt shining bright in winter’s dark

Orion strides

westward across the sky

and night by night

leaves us a promise/ of returning spring."

She often—gently—pressed books on relatives and friends, saying "Have you read?"; or "Do try this writer." Nature was also a special passion for Nancy—noticing birdsongs, swaying branches, native flowers, and fall leaves. These observations were often part of her messages during worship. Nancy was part of a committed group who saved the Sibley Marsh and Prairie, and acted as a nature guide for the nearby elementary school children each year. She also provided photographs, artwork, and field notes to the Preserve.

Nancy was a devoted daughter and sister, dedicated wife of 59 years to Dick Cantwell, loving mother of three sons, Dick, Peter, and Jim, and involved grandmother of six. Family, near and far, personal and community, were critical to her life and well-being. And she cared for each one with great love and commitment. Though a stroke stole her memory of times past, it did not steal her positive, humorous, and perceptive presence in CVFM. Upon her return from a recovery period at her sister’s, Nancy shared a ministry in Meeting about though she had lost so many grounding parts of her life, she still loved the peace of the silence and listening for the message from the Divine. A poem she quoted from Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier brings Nancy’s love of peace into our lives:

"Drop Thy still dews of quietness

Till all our strivings cease

Take from our souls the strain and stress

And let our ordered lives confess

The beauties of Thy peace."