June 2020 Newsletter

The latest in our series…

The People of the Park:

A Visit with Nancy Lambertson

By Dale Dauten

Silveridge resident Lin Ohley told me that I needed to write about Nancy Lambertson, saying she is “loved by all and she would be an amazing story.” I couldn’t resist an intro like that. So I called Nancy and told her I wanted to write about her and she insisted that hers was “just an ordinary life.” But I kept asking and she went on to tell me how she’d grown up in half a dozen different states, how her first job was working on the Titan 2 missile project, how she’d been an EMT, how she’s traveled the country in her RV and, lastly, how she came to lead the ceramics program at Silveridge – in other words, not an ordinary life, not at all. Here’s a bit of what I learned…

Nancy was born in Taylorville, in central Illinois, about 30 miles from Springfield and thus part of “Lincoln Country.”

There’s a famous statue of Lincoln in Taylorville, featuring young Abe with a pig. That’s because the county courthouse in Taylorville was on the circuit he worked as a “prairie lawyer” and it was raised off the ground and pigs would gather underneath and occasionally make so much noise they interrupted court proceedings.

But Nancy was destined to be on the move. Her father’s work as a consultant to customer service operations took the family from Illinois to Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida, Texas and then to Arkansas, where Nancy went to high school, graduating from Sylvan Hills High in Little Rock.

From there she took a job with the Martin Marietta Corporation, working on the Titan 2 missile project. She recalled the first time she saw a missile launch, one of the unmanned test rockets: “I was maybe 20 years old and living in a beach apartment near Cape Canaveral. I went out on the beach to watch the launch and the missile lifted off, but then it tilted over and they had to explode it. That was gorgeous – every color imaginable.”

The Titan 2 was used to launch the Gemini astronauts into orbit, and it became the choice for the ICBM program, with missiles buried in 54 bunkers around the country. (Only one of those sites remains, and is home to the Titan Missile Museum, just of I-19, South of Tucson.)

As much as Nancy marveled at that first missile launch, the launches were such regular occurrences, becoming weekly, she eventually saw so many from her beach apartment that “they became kind of ho-hum.”

It wasn’t long after that Nancy felt the call of the road, and she took off to stay with an aunt in Arizona. During that visit she met Ray, a Highway Patrolman, and the two got married five weeks after meeting. How did the two meet? I wondered and Nancy chuckled and said, “We met though a girl I worked with. She was dating him and she wanted me to meet him, so we all went out to dinner. Her mistake.”

“Everyone said it wouldn’t last,” Nancy recalled, “but we were married 43 years when Ray died.” The two had a pair of daughters, Martie, who now lives nearby, in San Tan Valley, and LeighAnn, who lives in Springhill, Florida. There are also six grandchildren and five great-grandkids.

Ray and Nancy on a trip to Alaska

The couple lived in several places around Arizona and Nancy eventually took a job as an EMT up on the Mogollon Rim, the Forest Lakes station. Her work included all kinds of emergencies, including rescuing one camper who fell off the Rim: “There was a Red Flag warning, so he shouldn’t have had a fire, but he did anyway and It started to spread so he took the tent he hadn’t set up yet and started slapping the flames and then the tent caught fire so he decided to throw it over the edge but the momentum took him along with it. He hit some trees and survived. We had to get climbers to get him out.”

After both Nancy and Ray retired, they took off in an RV, what Nancy described as “a big diesel pusher,” and they traveled full-time for three years, before selling the RV and buying a house in Montana. That’s where they lived when Ray passed. Eventually, Nancy felt again the call of the road. She bought another RV and took off.

Nancy and her RV settled in Mesa and in Silveridge to spend winters and she was still there when we visited with her, long past the winter. “I usually leave in March, but I’m still here. I have a friend who’s coming in from Florida in June and we’ll travel together for the summer, headed for New Hampshire.”

When Nancy first came to Silveridge, she stopped in the Ceramics room, the now famous Room 9.  “They had kilns, but there wasn’t much going on. I did a piece and someone said, ‘You should do a class.’ I did, and that first time we had maybe three or four people.’ But we kept going and now we have a membership of around 40. And what I am very proud of, we now have seven certified teachers here at Silveridge.”

Nancy will be hitting the road soon, but we’re glad the road will lead her back to Silveridge by next Fall.

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Thanks to Lin Ohley for suggesting that we write about Nancy. If you’d like to volunteer to be the subject of an article, or have someone you’d like to learn more about, please let me know.

Or, if you have photos you’ll like to share in upcoming newsletters, please send them.

Dale Dauten, Editor

Email:  ddauten@gmail.com

Text: 480-297-6244

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Opening up

We’re pleased to note that the pool has reopened. In fact, other than some new signs popping up around the park with cautions (like social distancing and limits on group size), things are starting to look normal (for summer).