Nancy Newlands Shobe, active in community

September 29, 2017

Nancy Newlands Shobe passed away Wednesday morning, Sept. 27, 2017, at her home in Lewes, with her husband David at her side. Nancy Augusta Newlands was born Nov. 27, 1933, in San Francisco, Calif., to James Gordon Newlands and Sybil Taylor of New York City.

Nancy was a proud fourth generation San Franciscan, and was equally proud of her highland Scots history as a member of the Gordon clan. She was the grandniece of Sen. Francis Newlands, founder of Chevy Chase, Md.

Educated initially at a Christian Science boarding school outside San Francisco, Nancy accompanied her mother, a legal secretary, back to the East Coast at the beginning of World War II, when her mother was assigned to the Naval Office in Washington, D.C. She spent the war years at several Catholic girls schools in the Washington area, returning with her mother to New York to complete her secondary education. Nancy began her college career as a music major at Wells College, but her father's early death at age 52 caused her to change colleges to Adelphi and her major to early childhood education. That would lead her to a teaching position at Barney Neighborhood House in Southwest Washington, D.C., a settlement house for orphaned children. She met her husband, David, a young foreign service officer, in D.C. and traveled with him and their firstborn son to the Philippines, where their second son was born. She immersed herself in Philippine culture, attending university classes in Philippine history and literature. The couple then went to Rome and Baghdad, after which they returned to the U.S. There, her third child, a hoped-for girl, arrived to complete their family.

At home on the north shore of Long Island, Nancy became active with the League of Women Voters, and as a volunteer with the Nassau County Department of Social Services and reorganized their filing system to double their efficiency. She attended consciousness-raising classes in New York City based in the philosophy of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, known as the Fourth Way, or simply, The Work, which included mastering the difficult Sufi dances, or movements, requiring simutaneous movement of head, arms, legs, and body to different rhythms.

Moving to Annapolis, Md., to follow her husband's work in Washington, she turned their Victorian home into a bed and breakfast, an entrepreneurial test which she passed with flying colors. She also continued to give piano recitals at her home, which she had begun doing in New York. Trained as a classical pianist at the Mannes School of Music in New York, she had been given a Steinway Grand Piano during her college years. Seeking a career in which she could use her background in music, she attended Catholic University's Music Therapy Program in Washington and was certified as a therapist. She interned at a New York State mental hospital in Wassaic, N.Y., whre she enabled a number of middle-aged women to speak for the first time.

Baltimore, Md., followed Annapolis as her home, where she served as a member of the marketing team at Center Stage and the Baltimore Symphony. Her knowledge of classical music was so extensive that her employer, Stephen Dunn Associates of California, flew her around the country to Seattle, the Bay Area in California, Denver, Colorado Springs, and Atlanta to help ballet companies and symphonies educate and expand their audiences. She also managed a retail store on North Charles Street, People United, an experience which she would put to work at Puzzles and Lewes Gourmet when the Shobes retired to Delaware in 1999.

A series of strokes landed Nancy at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in 2009, where a team of outstanding neurosurgeons implanted two stents in her brain.

Nancy was very active as a volunteer and student at the Southern Delaware Academy for Lifelong Learning in Lewes, in theater, the arts, the film festival, house tours, and Coastal Concerts. Over the past eight years a number of health incidents and accidents took their toll, but she was able to overcome all of them until her very active brain was invaded by cancer cells.

Nancy leaves behind her loving husband, David; three adoring children: Stephen Gordon, Christopher David and Helena Jean; and her granddaughter, Christina Michela, with whom Nancy wished she could have spent more time.

A Memorial Service will be held at 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 8, at Parsell Funeral Homes and Crematorium, Atkins-Lodge Chapel, 16961 Kings Highway, Lewes, where friends may visit beginning at 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in Nancy's memory to Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Delaware: 520 Dupont Ave., Lewes, DE 19958.

Please visit Nancy's Life Memorial Webpage and sign her online guestbook at

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