Nancye Haymes Rhodenhiser was born in Ringgold, Virginia, the second of five daughters, Nancye was the class valedictorian and went to college at the age of 16. She became an elementary teacher. Feeling a calling, she went in 1944 to seminary to obtain a Masters in Christian Education. At that time Baptist seminaries (and many other denominations) would not allow women to earn the usual professional degree, the Master of Divinity. While there, she met her husband, The Rev. Dr. Bill Rhodenhiser. She raised four children and did her final career chapter at St Michael’s Elementary School, where she taught third grade for many years. In the 1970s, interested in children with non-typical learning styles, she earned a Masters in Special Education at VCU.
A dedicated church member, and a spiritual person, Nancye made friends everywhere she went, and in every country, she visited. She was comfortable, respectful, curious, and open in a wide variety of spiritual contexts, and excelled at written correspondence. Upon the death of her husband Bill in 2005, Nancye moved into St Mary’s Woods and lived there longer than anyone else. She enjoyed the residents and staff of St Mary’s Woods. Nancye loved her patio and growing things. She played bridge regularly throughout her life and was always an unconventional and intuitive bidder and player. As an older person, she remarked that it “keeps the little grey cells working.”
She continued a life-long interest in educating disadvantaged children by tutoring at the elementary school two blocks away until in recent years she could no longer get there using her walker. A lifelong learner, Nancye read constantly and learned from people with whom she developed relationships. Nancye was a very intuitive and prayerful person, which often triggered insights or leadings. She was particularly grateful for her close relationship with Regina Reed, whom she regarded as one of her closest friends and great support as she approached the century mark. After a glorious 100th birthday, in the fall of 2022 after an October bout with Covid, Nancye was able to remain in her home because of the loving care of the nursing staff at St Mary’s Woods. In January of 2023, Nancye told everyone she had lived a good life and was ready to move on to the next. She passed peacefully in her home. She is survived by her sister, her children, nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 11, at Grace Baptist Church, 4200 Dover Rd, Richmond, VA 23221. the church will livestream the service.