On 11th April, 2016, many members of the extended Girton Community attended the Thanksgiving Service for the life of Mrs. Nansi Ward which was held at St. Andrew’s Uniting Church in Myers Street, Bendigo. After a long illness Nansi passed away peacefully at home on Monday, April 4, Aged 71 years
Mrs Ward was a long serving member of staff at Girton College and a foundation staff member at Girton Grammar School when it commenced in January 1993. She was a much loved and admired teacher and colleague; a truly unique person and one who has affected positively the lives of countless people over her lifetime.
Nansi commenced teaching at Girton College in May 1975 and retired from Girton Grammar School at the end of 2001 having her service unbroken throughout that time except for two periods of leave coinciding with the birth of her children. Less than two years after her retirement, Nansi returned to the School when she stepped in at late notice to teach Religious Education & Personal Development for the duration of Term Four in 2003.
Mrs Ward was an inspirational teacher; her own thirst for knowledge, which had seen her constantly pursuing further studies, helped inspire the many thousands of students she taught over a long and illustrious career in teaching. Her pupils recall her insistence that they work hard, that they become enthused with a passion for the work they were doing and that they always give of their best. In this respect she led by example. Nansi got the best out of her pupils; their outstanding results, year after year, were testament to that exemplary work effort.
Nansi was a straight talker, known (as her daughter Lauren recalls) to have “a death stare that could halt an army in its tracks”. Students knew better than to take Nansi on. Yet, on the other hand, they also knew her to be a teacher to whom they could go for support of any nature. Her unfailing kindness and her unswerving values were hallmarks of a deeply empathetic and compassionate teacher.
To her colleagues Nansi was a mentor, a friend, an inspirational educator and she was a wonderful role model to younger teachers. Her outstanding teaching was recognized formally at Speech Night in 1999 when she was awarded the “Board’s Prize for a Staff Member who has shown General Excellence across the School”. In the citation, written by Headmaster Clayton Jones, he refers to Mrs Ward’s outstanding leadership of the Duke of Edinburgh Programme, her excellent teaching of Biology and Human Development at VCE level, and later in the citation Mr Jones mused, “Your Year Eight classes find it difficult not to be attentive in your sex education classes”.
Nansi’s life was centered also in a great love for her family which was extensive. Nansi had 50 first cousins and so it is no wonder that you would constantly meet someone who was related somehow to Nansi. Nansi was the pivot around whom many wonderful family occasions were created, with many memories carved around celebrations big and small. Nansi was an inventive, creative and accomplished cook, a seamstress, an interior decorator of colorful and quirky fame; a creator of pantries full of preserves, much of which created by the fruits of her own garden which was lush with edible products.
Nansi was an inveterate bush walker, known for her ability to plan and organize enough food for an army on the march. Her knowledge of nature was the envy of all. She could identify any bird by its call and she knew the name of the many plants and bushes encountered along the trails. Her enthusiasm for nature was infectious and many a fellow traveler came home much more knowledgeable about the Australian bush because they had walked a while with Nansi.
The great loves in Nansi’s life, however, were her husband of 47 years, Mal, and their two children Lauren and Jonathan, both of whom attended Girton Grammar school and who were both taught at various times by their mother.
Nansi lived a rich life, one populated by the countless friends she had made over many years, from her days at the University of Melbourne, to her early years teaching at Ballarat and then Fiji, to her colleagues and friends from Girton College and then Girton Grammar, to the friends she made at St Andrew’s Uniting Church and, more recently the Karin refugee families who benefited from her assistance, care and generosity.
Nansi was a lady who lived life simply, but well. She had great interests which she shared, she had a deep love for her family, she was a passionate and talented teacher, she was fun to be around, and she drew others to her like a magnet. She will be most very sadly missed.