April 7, 2020

Nancy Nimitz Has Died


Anna Elizabeth Nimitz, known to everyone as Nancy, died on February 19 at the age of 84. She had lived in Topanga since the mid 1950s. Nancy was the third born of the four children—three daughters and one son—of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and Catherine Freeman Nimitz. Nancy’s birthplace was New London, Connecticut, the site of a submarine base. Her birthplace and the homes of her youth were dictated by her famous father’s duty assignments. She studied in various parts of the world including the Shanghai American school in China. Her later studies were at George Washington, Berkeley and Harvard.

She thought that the two most beautiful languages in the world were English and Russian. She was proficient at both and it was not unusual, especially while hiking, for her to recite passages of Milton and Dunne in English or Pushkin in Russian. If her attention was drawn to a Hermit Thrush, she was apt to use Gerard Manley Hopkins’ words and sing out, “Glory be to God for dappled things.”

Nancy Nimitz Has Died

Her other passion was music. She was a bit rusty on her brother’s violin, but she held her own in playing Bach piano duets. It was not uncommon to hear her sing along with an opera in German or Italian.

She went to work as an economist for the Rand Corporation in the early ’50s where she worked until her retirement 30 years later.

She came to Topanga when she sublet an apartment from Irwin Mann, a colleague who went off to Princeton to finish his degree. When he returned and wanted his apartment back, Nancy had fallen in love with Topanga and really didn’t want to leave. In 1964 she probably surprised herself by buying a house—no doubt the first permanent home she had ever had. From then on she could be seen walking, sometimes with her dogs, semi-legally through the Trippet Ranch before it became a park, or alone with a book.

She soaked up the natural beauty around her home, frequently slept outside to watch the Pleiades, and was good at identifying the native flora. She is survived by an older sister who resides on Cape Cod, a younger sister who is a member of the Dominican order in San Rafael, three nephews, three nieces and their families. She was an extraordinary person and her absence will be forever felt. Ruht wohl.