Nancy Woods

1923 – 2020

Nancy Woods, Mother of 14, Grandmother of 38, Great Grandmother to 14 and friend to thousands, passed away peacefully on June 10th, 2020 surrounded by her family. She is survived by her children: Gail, George, Regina, Martha, Christopher, Philip, Valerie, Andrew, Martin, Pauline, Timothy, Sarah and Eric. She is predeceased by her daughter Cathy and her husband George Allen Woods. She was born in NYC to Janet Herzog and Alan Shaw on June 1st 1928. Her Mother passed away when she was 6 years old. Her Grandparents, distraught at the death of their daughter, moved to Cannes, France where she lived for many years. Due to their Jewish heritage, they fled France when it fell under Nazi occupation and moved back to New York City. She then attended Pembroke College, now part of Brown University, before marrying George Woods in 1948. Since 1951 Nancy lived on the same street in Demarest NJ where she raised her 14 children and was an active member of the community. Her involvement included 15 years as a member of the Demarest Board of Education, PTO and Democratic Club. For her entire life, she fought fiercely for the causes important to her. She was a tireless advocate for peace. She was instrumental in establishing the Demarest Peace Site a gazebo in the center of Demarest and was an active member of Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. Nancy was a resolute fighter for the homeless and the disadvantaged. She could not abide even one child going to bed hungry, homeless or feeling unloved. She volunteered 15 hours a day, usually 6 or 7 days a week, for nearly five decades to do her part in making the world a better place. She championed causes with boundless energy for the poor, the homeless, the dispossessed, the abused, the mentally and physically challenged, the lonely, the under- educated, the environment, endangered wildlife and endless others. She took part in countless boycotts and protests to stop oppression both at home and around the world. She founded and helped to operate the Family Shelter at St Cecilia’s Church in Englewood. She personally welcomed guests every day where she cared for them, advised them, consoled them, counseled them and occasionally exercised tough love until its closing. She saw tremendous value in every person, no matter their circumstance, and she treated them all with dignity. One of her most enduring achievements, other than her family, is co-founding The Interreligious Fellowship for the Homeless, now Family Promise of Bergen County. The organization offers shelter and support in all its forms to working families who have become homeless. In 1991 she also co-founded a dinner program to feed the poor in the community. However, she never wanted any attention for her good works. She believed service to others, especially the poor, is our mandate on earth and is its own reward. When Bill Clinton wrote his book “Giving” about volunteering and wanted to use her as a shining example, she refused to let him use her name. Nonetheless, the story is there on page 48. Absolutely nothing was more important to her then the support and love of her family and the family’s love and support for each other. She stressed it constantly. For decades a sign over her desk read, “Family first. No exceptions.” In heaven, she is reunited with her grandsons Luke Schamberger and Gregory Piatkowski as well as sons-in-law Dan Martin and Mario Acevedo. A celebration of her life will be held at a later date. In the meantime, if you truly want to honor her, go out today and help someone less fortunate.