Mrs. Nancy Courts Lane


Mrs. Nancy Courts Lane, of Chincoteague Island, died on Oct. 15, 2018, at her second home in Alexandria. Born in Reidsville, N.C., on May 16, 1948, Nancy grew up on a dairy and tobacco farm near Reidsville and attended Reidsville City schools, graduating as the salutatorian of the Class of 1966. She was part of the first cohort of women to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) for all four years. At UNC Nancy met Walter Francis Lane, a graduate student in economics. They were married on Jan. 31, 1970, which was also the day Nancy graduated.

Nancy and Walter moved to Washington, D.C., in 1974, where she began her career with the federal government. After working for the Navy and the Army in civilian personnel, she went to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) where she was employed from 1989 until her retirement in 2007. At the FAA, first she worked to enhance training programs for flight safety inspectors and then supervised the engineers who wrote the regulations for airplane certification, oversight, and air-worthiness. This work was instrumental in a major overhaul of commercial aircraft inspection standards and contributed to the current period of unprecedented safety for American commercial airlines.

Nancy and Walter have two married children and five grandchildren, all of whom survive her, Walter Stephen Lane (m. Letitia May Whitely Lane) and Sarah Courts Lane (m. Neil Edward Chidester); Walter and Letitia’s children, Miles Abram Lane and Frances Esther Lane; and Sarah and Neil’s children, Dorothy Anne Lane Chidester, Hannah Courts Lane Chidester, and Hazel Evelyn Lane Chidester.

Nancy’s father, Frank Johnson Courts, predeceased her, but her 96-year-old mother, Agnes Hermes Courts, of Reidsville, survives. Nancy also leaves two brothers, Frank John Courts (m. Patrice Robinson), of Rocky Mount, N.C. and Michael Hermes Courts (m. Julia Shuford), of Greensboro, N.C. She also leaves in the Lane family three brothers-in-law, three sisters-in-law, and their spouses to whom she was very close. In both the Lane and Courts families she leaves a great many nieces, nephews, their spouses, and quite a few grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

In 1979, Nancy and Walter bought a second home in Chincoteague and became Chincoteague “come-heres” or part-time “Teaguers.” Walter and Nancy’s small vacation home quickly became the meeting place for the Lane family. Nancy encouraged strong family ties and was pleased to see her children develop close bonds with their cousins. Walter and Nancy’s love for family fun led many of their nieces and nephews to think of Chincoteague — rather than where they lived and went to school — as their real home.

Walter and Nancy enlarged their home and encouraged two of Walter’s brothers and their wives to buy their own Chincoteague homes. The three homes are adjacent to each other and form the “Lane Compound,” with the three Lane brothers and their wives becoming “Compound Partners,” Nancy was the partner who was most responsible for acquiring additional compound land and for planning and executing many compound improvements. Nancy loved to cook and work with her sisters-in-law on family dinners that often included visiting and Island friends. The compound has been the setting for many memorable parties and other events—notably week-long birthday celebrations and the weddings of Walter and Nancy’s children; there certainly will be more of these in the future, as Nancy would certainly want, although sadly without her.

When Nancy retired in 2007, she made Chincoteague her permanent residence and immersed herself in civic activity in her beloved adopted town. Ever purposeful and energetic, Nancy became the president of the Chincoteague Island Arts Organization (CIAO), a group that preserved the Island Theater, the town’s old movie theater, and turned it into a vibrant center for the arts. In addition, Nancy prepared exhibits for the Chincoteague Island Museum, was president of the Chincoteague Garden Club, and was active in the community in many other ways. The Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce named Nancy Chincoteague Citizen of the Year for 2016.

In May 2014, just after her sixty-sixth birthday, Nancy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and began a determined, four-and-a-half-year fight against this unrelenting foe. She endured two operations, eight varieties of chemotherapy, and ten doses of brain radiation—and those were just the conventional treatments. Filled with a desire to further research to end this disease, she volunteered for clinical trials at the National Institute of Health. Her great strength of will allowed Nancy to live to meet Hannah and Hazel, her youngest granddaughters, who were born after she received her diagnosis—and allowed them to meet her!

In her fight against cancer Nancy was aided immeasurably by the steadfast energy and ingenuity of her daughter, Sarah, and the indefatigable patience and support of Walter and many others in her family. The family is very thankful to all the doctors and other medical personnel who cared for her with such devotion, and grateful as well to the many friends who gave their time so generously to help her throughout her battle with this devastating illness. During Nancy’s illness, Father Mike Imperiale and Irene Smyth of Saint Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church of Chincoteague were most kind to her. Walter and Nancy joined the church in 1979. They have cherished knowing many of the priests and others at the church over the years.

Above all, Nancy was devoted to her family—both immediate and extended— and to her many friends. Nancy was endowed with a wonderful sense of humor, no doubt inherited from her father. She loved a compelling story, a hearty laugh, a day at the beach, a shopping bargain, and a Michelob Ultra. She especially enjoyed using her formidable powers of persuasion to convince a fellow shopper to purchase bargains. Nancy loved travel and she and Walter roamed widely across Europe, especially enjoying Ireland and her mother’s home nation of Germany. Later in life she and Walter loved to visit Hawaii, even arranging for chemotherapy while vacationing there.

All who knew and loved Nancy are welcome to attend the following events remembering her: On Oct. 25, 2018, there will be a wake in the Island Theater Annex (a venue Nancy was instrumental in establishing). Come anytime between 7 and 9 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Oct. 26, 2018, at Saint Andrew the Apostle Church on Church Street. After the Mass, the urn containing Nancy’s ashes will be placed in the Saint Andrew’s columbarium. A lunch in the church hall will follow the interment.

Contributions may be made in Nancy’s name to CIAO (4074 Main Street, Chincoteague Island, Virginia 23336) or to Saint Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church (6319 Mumford St., Chincoteague Island, Virginia 23336).

For condolences please visit, the website of the Northern Virginia Burial and Cremation Society

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