Final Service for H. Nancy Schealer
Officiant - Rev. Dennis Chamberland, PhD – husband of Claudia Schealer Chamberland
We are here today to honor and lay to
her final rest, our mother, grandmother, sister (as well as a sister in Christ),
and our friend, Hannah Nancy McNey Schealer. Such an extraordinary life fully
deserves an extraordinary remembrance. And now to begin, I will ask Barry
Whitley to open this service with holy and inerrant scripture.
Scripture read by Barry Whitley – husband of Vicky Schealer Whitley.
"In the same way, you wives, be
subject to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the
Word, they may be won over without a word by the behavior of their
wives, as they observe your pure and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely the external—braiding the hair,
wearing gold jewelry, or putting on apparel; but it
should be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a
gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God." 1 Peter
this time, I would like to ask Rev. Michael Ohaneson to lead us in the invocation.
by Rev. Michael Ohaneson, husband of Sally Schealer Ohaneson.
We come to You in the Name of Jesus
To ask that You would fill this place
With Your comforting Presence and Peace,
And that You would draw very near to each of us.
We thank You for Hannah Nancy McNey Schealer,
An amazing, Godly woman, who was full of grace.
Hannah means grace; and Nancy means grace!
Hers was a life of double grace!
And that’s what we need today,
Grace to live without her; and grace to live like her.
Even though death separates us from those we love,
We know that, You, Lord Jesus, have conquered death,
You are alive forevermore, and You will unite us again,
On that great and glorious Day.
So until then, Father, may our lives be full of love and grace,
To bring honor to her and glory to You, through Christ our Lord. Amen!
The life of Nancy McNey Schealer began
on March 4, 1928, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Even as an infant, her life immediately
opened in a public records caper. The first child of Martha Stover and John
Joseph McNey, Jr., her mother chose to name her Nancy McNey with no middle name. But anyone knowing her independent,
strong-willed mother, Martha, would know that should have been the end of the
discussion. However, Nancy's paternal grandmother, Bridget Mulligan McLaughlin,
wanted to name her Hannah in honor of her daughter who would have been Nancy’s grandmother. Unfortunately, Hannah had passed away less
than 13 months earlier. Martha declined – but great-grandmother Bridget, being
of determined Irish stock and just as stubborn as Martha, had other ideas. Years
after dear Bridget's passing, when a copy of Nancy's birth certificate was
finally summoned for her Nursing School application, it was revealed that great-grandmother
McLaughlin had somehow convinced the birth registrar that the baby was named
Hannah no middle name McNey without anyone else's knowledge. The trouble was,
every other official and legal record to that date had her name recorded as
Nancy – an aggravating issue that has persisted to this very day.
Nancy, or Nan as she was lovingly known by
her brothers John and Steve, grew up in Pennsylvania, and John still resides in
Pottstown. She enjoyed reminiscing about her childhood with her beloved
brothers, and frequently mentioned the Pirates and Travelers board game they
would gleefully play for hours. She fondly repeated the ditty, "We are
pirates, dirty little pirates. We leave a trail of blood wherever we go. We
take delight in stirring up a fight and hitting little babies on the head until
they're dead," demonstrating her fantastic memory and witty sense of humor.
Although their parents divorced when the children were young, the siblings had
the amazing blessing of growing up with their Mennonite maternal grandmother,
Mary Landis Stover, and she was a tremendous positive influence in Nancy's
life. Her mother, Martha, was a single parent and was quite talented - as well
as a strikingly beautiful woman. She
worked as a buyer for a well-known department store to provide for her family. In 1941, when Nancy was 13, she joyfully married
the wonderful Merrill Moyer Crouthamel, settling the family in Boyertown.
Even as a young lady, Nancy did not let
the fact that she was still a high school student in the early 1940s stop her
from doing her bit for the war effort. She and her best friend Jeanie Nieman routinely
walked the 12 miles one way to a local airfield to take flying lessons offered
by the US Civil Air Patrol to protect the home front, for which they had won
scholarships. She soloed and earned her pilot's license as a teenager, becoming
an aviatrix during the barnstorming days of early World War II, even before
learning to drive an automobile or graduating from Boyertown High School in
Meanwhile, home on leave from the Navy
in the Pacific after his mother's death, Richard Schealer visited the local
malt shop and saw Nancy with her friends in a booth. Although he had known her
as a younger girl who babysat for neighbors, now, as a high school student, she
caught his eye – and stole his heart. They began dating and soon determined
that they were in love, thus proving that Richard’s IQ and taste for good
looking women was off the charts. Even though the war ended, he remained in the
Navy working with his beloved planes from a stateside airfield, and she changed
her plans from being a missionary in China to attending nursing school at the
Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania. It was a 3-year, year-round
training commitment, and the students were not allowed to be married, so a long
engagement was accepted.
And so beings the next public record
caper. The ever respectful and honorable Eagle Scout, Richard sought permission
from Nancy's mother before popping the question. Thoroughly incensed at the
brash request, Martha Crouthamel denied her permission and announced to poor
Richard that her daughter would only marry a doctor. At that moment, Nancy walked in on the end of
the conversation, politely but firmly set her mom straight, and accepted the
proposal. Her mother, Martha, unfortunately, did not. When it came time to
announce the engagement in the local paper, Martha "accidentally" provided
the incorrect name of Albert Burns for the fiancée, so that Richard Schealer would
never be publicly engaged to Nancy McNey.
One of the stories from her nurses'
training plainly illustrates Nancy's unique personality. This story that so clearly defines her
character was an incident that occurred while assisting in the surgery. In the operating room was a little boy who
tragically fell from the top of a huge Ferris wheel one night in Philadelphia.
Nancy happened to be the student nurse on duty when the child was rushed in and
a world-renowned brain surgeon showed up to perform the hours of intricate
surgery required to save his life. Growing frustrated with Nancy, an
inexperienced assistant who couldn't anticipate his every need, the surgeon
repeatedly screamed at her and told her to get out of his operating room. Mom
calmly maintained her position, doing the best she could, while continuously
repeating to herself, "He's not talking to me. He's not talking to
me," until the lengthy procedure was completed. The boy survived, and the
famous doctor eventually complimented her on her composure and fortitude. Mom
confessed to us that despite her outward appearance of calm, she wore holes in
her stockings from repeatedly curling her toes throughout the ordeal.
Despite the hurdles, the romantic stars
of Dick and Nancy eventually aligned, and after her graduation from nursing
school and his discharge from the Navy, they were married in 1950. Nancy worked
primarily as a labor and delivery nurse, while Richard used his GI Bill to earn
a Mechanical Engineering degree from Penn State University. During this time,
Sally and Martha were born, and the Schealer family began. Dick became a Test
Flight Engineer with the Martin Company, and although Nancy hung up her
stethoscope to apply herself full time to taking care of their growing family,
she maintained her nursing certification for decades. Susan, Claudia, and Vicky
arrived in Baltimore, and the long-awaited son, Mark, finally appeared in Kansas,
where Dick was building nuclear missile silos. The Schealer family moved to
Cocoa, Florida, in the fall of 1963, for employment at the burgeoning Kennedy
Space Center and the beginning of the space race, and Richard joined the NASA
team in 1966.
Richard was an authentic pioneer and
creator of SCUBA diving gear and helped invent the sport. He exploited every opportunity to explore and
enjoy the underwater reaches of God's creation. Nancy obtained her SCUBA
certification in order to accompany him as his dive partner on his beloved dive
trips. They both humorously recalled the time that she was snorkeling beside
Dad, not a short distance from the boat, when a large barracuda started
circling them with an unwanted curiously and a mouth full of very long and sharp
teeth. Before he could manage to turn to check on her, Mom was already back up
on the boat minus her gear, sitting in a chair and enjoying a beer.
Even after back surgery limited her
diving capabilities, Nancy continued to go on dive trips with Dick and share
his joy from topside. They expanded their travels to include many cruises and
eventually visited more than 26 countries together. She also supervised the
family through multiple cross-country trips like the move from Kansas to
Florida, the 1968 National Boy Scout Jamboree in Idaho, and the 1976 National
Explorer Olympics in Colorado. Dick and Nancy enjoyed visiting national parks
and historic battlefields, and even took classes in archeology so that they
could participate in digs, incorporating their loves into many fascinating
adventures and excursions.
As I discovered personally in 1992, it
becomes nearly impossible to separate the life of Nancy from Richard and the
Schealer family. The reason for that has absolutely nothing to do with
patriarchy or social mores – but instead, it has everything to do with Biblical
norms in an authentic Christian home. 1 Peter Chapter 3 flawlessly describes
the situation: Nancy was perfectly submissive to her husband's spiritual
leadership, and he was perfectly submissive to her needs and desires in this
ideal spiritual balance of two lives orchestrated by the love and power of the
Holy Spirit of Grace. The scripture goes on to describe Nancy precisely as one
who was adorned exquisitely by "the hidden person of the heart, with the
imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the
sight of God." I honestly do not know of anyone who could argue that
description of this magnificent and strong yet submissive woman of God – fully
submissive to Jesus, to His Word, to her husband's leadership, to the needs of
her family and anyone who needed to feel the touch of authentic love and acceptance.
So, because of her obedience and submission, God gave Nancy a true spirit of
gentleness and a quiet spirit that she freely shared with everyone in her path.
I first met Nancy in April of 1992 when I
came to 1204 Alamanda Lane with a fist full of flowers aiming to court her
daughter Claudia (the woman who would not be courted by a mere man – but that
is another story). I pulled into the driveway, knocked on the door, and my
mom-to-be answered. Just like Nehemiah's mind and words were instantly directed
by the Holy Spirit, I thrust the flowers toward Nancy and said, "Here. I
brought these for you!"
Mom smiled sweetly as though none of
this was weird, accepted them with a gracious smile, and led me into the house.
My future father was sitting in his recliner by the door reading his newspaper,
apparently unaffected by all the commotion – a familiar pose that all
sons-in-law have experienced. And Claudia was about to be overwhelmed by a wave
of focused prayer then even she couldn't resist.
The tsunami of prayers led by Mom and Dad
- and Dennis, of course - worked so well that she-who-would-not-be-courted
planted the first kiss of the relationship in the 1204 driveway at 2 a.m. not
long afterwards, and we flew off on our honeymoon mere weeks later. It was a
beautiful few weeks of bliss… until…
Shortly after our honeymoon, we drove
back to 1204 and found Dad lying face up in the yard with a 16' ladder by his
head. I instantly knew that this was bad. So, I left Claudia to check him out
and did the only thing a NASA geek could be expected to do – I quickly went
inside and called 911. I came out after having made the call and found Dad
standing up with Claudia gently pulling on his arm to relocate the joint at his
firm insistence. I confidently announced, "I just called 911. They're on
the way." Dad turned, fixed me with a commanding gaze, and ordered, "You
call them back and tell them not to come!" I had just lost
favorite-son-in-law status less than one week after the honeymoon. I turned to
do what I was directed to do, and Mom was standing in the doorway. "Don't
you dare," she said quietly and firmly, knowing her husband, and was
obviously not going to move out of the way. Long story short, I silently
disappeared around back while Dad refused the ambulance. Then Claudia drove him
to the ER, where he coded when his punctured lung collapsed, and he was in ICU
for 3 days. Visiting him in the hospital later, I apologized and received the "never
call 911 unless it is serious" lecture – never mind that the only thing
more serious than his condition was the morgue. Mom gave me her gentle,
knowing, reassuring smile. Welcome to the Schealer family!
A few years later, Grandmother Martha Crouthamel
passed. Soon afterwards, Claudia and I went to 1204, and I was met by the
familiar sight of Mom sitting at her end of the long family dining table and Dad
sitting at his end. In the middle of the table stood a conspicuously unlabeled plain
white box. So, I asked, "What's in the box?" Dad answered
immediately, "It's Grandmother's ashes." After a short pause, he
added, "This is the first time she's ever sat at this table and had nothing
to say." I could just feel fifty years of history neatly encapsulated in
those two short sentences.
After fully supporting Dad in all of his
many and varied activities all over the nation, Mom likewise selflessly
supported her children. Each of us was always at the forefront of her thoughts
and prayers every day. When she joined Dad in eternity, in addition to her six
children and their spouses, she had 22 grandchildren, beginning with her first,
Christian Burns Smith, 40 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great-grandchildren.
Mother was also a committed naturalist who
genuinely loved wildlife (sans snakes), particularly birds. There were many
years of National Audubon Society activities, complete with bird corpses stored
in the extra freezer. She was renowned for being able to distinguish numerous
birds by their calls – although there was the one unfortunate incident when she
mistakenly identified the neighbor boy's toy machine gun for a woodpecker. (One
error in 30 years and THIS is the story everyone remembers about Nancy’s bird call
genius!) Mom also learned braille and transcribed and proofread textbooks,
children's books, and many other works for the Library of Congress. For many
years her children were lulled to sleep by the rhythmic pulse of her
braillewriter in concert with soft classical music. She was a voracious reader
and tackled crossword puzzles with ease. And, in her final years, Mom supported
many different charities, her favorites being several Native American schools and
many veteran and law enforcement causes. She was also a committed sponsor of
Patrick and Regina Lennox, a devoted couple that she knew from St. Andrew's
Chapel who became Mission To the World missionaries to Native America.
And speaking of St. Andrew's Chapel,
Dick and Nancy were founding members, along with their long-time best friends
and Tuesday night Bible study companions, Dr. Robert G. Rosser, Jr., and his
inseparable soul mate, Clara. The foursome faithfully supported Ligonier
Ministries and cherished the teachings and friendship of its founder R.C.
Sproul and his beloved Vesta. Attending church with the couple for years, they
were excited to partner with the Sprouls as they answered God's call to
establish St. Andrew's Chapel. Nancy continued to touch lives and spread her
joy through her church home and its unparalleled chamber orchestra and choir.
For many years the stalwart quartet volunteered to clean up after every
communion service, and it was there that Mom developed personal, lasting ties
with her most cherished Elders, Barry and Diane Bickle, and Don and Beth
I am sure that each of you could tell
many, many more stories about Mother and Father, and we could go on for days. As
a matter of fact, Claudia and I are hoping to schedule just such a family
remembrance celebration for our parents sometime in post-pandemic 2021. But at this time, we would very much enjoy
hearing any short remarks about her influence in your life. If anyone would
like to comment, please stand and speak so that everyone can hear. And I would
like to ask Martha to go first!
Our time together has grown short now,
so let us honor both Richard and Nancy. Let
us explore scripture and the promises of God for them as well as each one of us
and all our tomorrows as we shall all soon be gathered with them there as well.
Please stand now in honor of the opening and reading of God's Holy Word.
God has promised Richard and Nancy
Schealer - our parents, our grandparents, sibling, and friends - as well as each
one of us - these things from the book of Revelation,
saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had
passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new
Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for
her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'See, the home of
God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and
God himself will be with them; He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death
will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first
things have passed away'."
from the ancient book of common prayers,
God of all creation, of judgement, and of the certain resurrection of Your
children, we now commit the body of our mother to the ground; earth to earth,
ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection
to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will change our lowly bodies
so that they will be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to
subdue all things to Himself.”
indeed, "Oh, death where is thy sting, oh, grave where is thy victory?"
now, in Your powerful and precious Name, we beseech Thee, O Lord of every life,
O precious Creator of all, receive our beloved mother, grandmother, sister, and
friend into Your Presence and into Your eternal Kingdom of light. In Christ's
Name, which is above all Names, we now commit our beloved Nancy into Your
eternal embrace. Amen.
John Austin, will you please now close us in prayer?
prayer by John Austin, husband of Susan Schealer Austin.
the peace and grace of our loving Heavenly Father be with us all.
Father, I personally want to thank You with all of my heart for the blessing of
having had Nancy Schealer in my life for the past 28 years.
thank You for Your Wonderful grace that blessed our lives with the presence of
such a Godly woman. A woman who was an
inspiration to all and a loving mother to her children, teaching them the ways
of a Christ-like life. We thank you for her desire to have all her family
constantly in your Word.
thank You that you sent us such a Godly woman, that anyone who knew her would
see You in her, and we got to call her Mother.
You that her children had such an inspirational and loving mother who did guide
and teach them the way they should go; an example of a pure Christ-like
all are so blessed to have been able to walk in the light of her love.
thank You for her labor, her love for You, her heart to teach her family of
endured the race set before her and is now reaping her reward, her eternal
praising of our Lord and Savior.
us now, please as we each go our way that we would always keep the memory of
her teaching in our hearts.
the Precious and Holy Name of Jesus Christ we give honor and praise.
Please join us at the reception at the
Timberland Pavilion at Kiwanis Park in Merritt Island.
Hannah Nancy NcNey Schealer was laid to rest with her husband Richard Schealer at
the end of her memorial service at Florida Memorial Gardens in
Rockledge, Florida, at 2:00 PM on Saturday, 9 January 2021 under a
cool, beautiful, cloudless Florida sky. Attending the services were a
host of family and friends.
Ave atque vale
Usque in aeternum
(Hail and farewell, until we meet again together in eternity)