Nancy Hodermarsky

Obituary of Nancy B. Hodermarsky

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Nancy Louise Burt Hodermarsky, beloved and devoted daughter, wife, sister, mother, grandmother, aunt, friend, and neighbor as well as a gifted teacher and writer, died peacefully at her home on Deer Isle, Maine, Dec. 27, 2023, after a brief illness and a full and glorious life of 98 years.


Nancy was an educator of both minds and hearts, who documented her life, history, and love for others and for Maine in her poetry and plays. She will be remembered for her keen intellect, her generous heart, and her laughter, which could fill a room. During the Second World War, she caught the eye of a young Frank Sinatra on tour in Cleveland, Ohio; he was inspired to sing “Nancy (With the Laughing Face)” to her as she sat in the front row of a downtown theater. But the great romance of her life was with painter and educator Daniel Hodermarsky (1924–1999), with whom she shared almost 40 years of marriage. Nancy truly took the winter and made it summer, but her greatest legacy may be the deep sense of belonging she nurtured among those lucky enough to know her.


Born July 8, 1925, in Shaker Heights, Ohio, she was the third daughter of Arthur Hartwell Burt, an executive with Sherwin-Williams, and Gladys Tilden Burt. She enjoyed games of sandlot baseball and neighborhood adventures with her older sisters, Mary Burt Coppedge (1919–1998) and Sarah Burt Harris (1923–1997).


A graduate of Vassar College, she traveled to Europe right after World War II, and worked for the Italian government to reclaim art stolen by the Nazis. She also taught at the American School of Rome. Later, she lived in Greece, where she was an instructor of English at the American School of Athens.  


Returning to the United States, she served as an educator in multiple subjects in the New York City and Cleveland public schools. In 1969 Nancy and Dan moved to Deerfield Mass., where for 20 years he taught art at Deerfield Academy while she taught English at the Stoneleigh-Burnham School in nearby Greenfield. Together, the couple shared their warmth and wisdom with a generation of Deerfield and Stoneleigh students.


In the late 1970s, she began the fulfillment of a life’s dream to become an attorney. A graduate of Western New England Law School, she was a partner at Merrigan, Hodermarsky & Merrigan in Greenfield, Mass. for several years. 


She retired from teaching and the law in 1999 and moved with Dan to the Deer Isle, Maine farmhouse they had purchased in the late 1960s, and where they had spent each summer thereafter. While Dan painted, Nancy volunteered as a reading support paraprofessional in the Deer Isle Elementary School, providing tutoring and educational enhancement to young people on the island for many years.  


During the years in Maine, she returned to her love of writing, and was included in collections published by Eggemoggin Reach Review. She participated in both readers’ and writers’ groups on the island and peninsula, and even in her 90s wrote two humorous plays which were performed locally. 


Nancy was featured in the film, Poems From Here, a series celebrating Maine’s Bicentennial in which Maine writers read the work of Maine poets produced by Maine Public.


She was a faithful member of the Deer Isle Sunset Congregational Church and, in 2022, was presented with the Boston Post Cane awarded to the oldest resident of the island.


She is survived by her daughters, Maria Hodermarska and Elisabeth Hodermarsky, and their husbands Penn Rhodeen and Sloan Wilson; by grandsons Ethan and Andrezj Jones; and by many beloved Moore, Coppedge, Harris, and Hodermarsky nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her memory to Island Workforce Housing: or the Deer Isle Memorial Ambulance Corps Memorial Ambulance Corps. Isle Au Haut - Stonington - Deer Isle, P.O. Box 387, 77 Sunshine Road, Deer Isle, Maine 04627.

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