NANCY RANSOM

Nancy Anne Alderman Ransom, a champion of women’s rights, education, and gender equality, died in Wilmington, Delaware, on March 19, 2018, at age 89 from complications of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Dr. Ransom was the founding director of the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center at Vanderbilt University. From 1978 to 1997, she guided the Women’s Center through projects such as the development of Vanderbilt’s first university-sponsored childcare center, which opened in fall 1983, and its women’s studies program.

In addition, Dr. Ransom taught sociology and women’s studies at Vanderbilt and at the University of Tennessee at Nashville, produced numerous publications and conference presentations, and worked as a consultant on establishing women’s centers and women’s studies programs.

Nancy Anne Alderman was born on February 25, 1929, in New Haven, Connecticut, to Samuel Bennett Alderman and the former Florence Opper. When she was 1 ½ years old, her mother wrote, “Nancy knows exactly what she wants and when she wants it.” At Vassar College, Nancy majored in history and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She subsequently studied sociology at Columbia University during 1950–51, received her Master of Arts in Teaching from Vanderbilt in 1971, attended courses at the University of Leeds in 1978, and earned her doctorate in education from Vanderbilt in 1988.

Nancy married political scientist Harry Howe Ransom in 1951. She counted a PhT (Putting Husband Through graduate school) among her degrees. Nancy and Harry and their three children moved to Nashville in 1961 to Harry’s childhood home in Belle Meade. Harry became a leading authority on US intelligence and was named professor emeritus upon his retirement from Vanderbilt in 1987. Nancy and Harry remained happily married, reading the New York Times together at breakfast, until his death in 2014.

Nancy contributed her time and expertise to many community organizations, including the American Association of University Women, the American Council on Exercise, the League of Women Voters, the Nashville Women’s Political Caucus, the National Urban League, the Tennessee Commission on the Status of Women, and Women in Business. She was elected president of Planned Parenthood; Senior Citizens, Inc. (now FiftyForward); and CABLE, a women’s networking organization. She served on numerous boards, including that of Vanderbilt University’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter. As a founding member of WIN (Women in the Nineties), she raised funds for women seeking public office. She was a delegate to United Nations Decade for Women forums in Copenhagen (1980) and Nairobi (1985).

Her many honors included CABLE’s Molly Todd Cup, Middle Tennessee State University’s inaugural Women of Achievement Award, and Vanderbilt’s Mary Jane Werthan Award. She also received the Council on Aging’s Sage Award, Senior Citizens’ Staff Champion Award, and the Harriet Foley Board Leadership Award. Her biography appears in International Who’s Who of Professional and Business Women, Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, Foremost Women of the Twentieth Century, Who’s Who in the World, and International Directory of Distinguished Leadership.

Survivors include children Ja Alderman Ransom, Katherine “Kate” Marie Ransom, and William Henry Howe Ransom; grandchildren Alex Ko Yamashita Ransom, Jenny Ann Ransom Suggs-White, and Frank Lee Ransom Suggs IV; four great-grandchildren and one step-great-grandchild. Nancy also leaves behind daughters-in-law Kathryn Marie Jakabcin and Keiko Yamashita Ransom and niece Mary Elizabeth “Beth” Ellers.

Nancy embraced life with eloquence and laughter. Before the onset of ALS two years before her death, she remained active in multiple realms. She was curriculum committee chair for Vanderbilt’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute as well as an enthusiastic participant in its offerings. She was a dedicated yoga practitioner and classical music devotee, and she counted walking in parks, writing, traveling, watching opera, and engaging in champagne toasts among retirement’s many pleasures. At the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, she chaired the endowment trust, served as a lay minister, and received the 2010 Virginia Grantham Service Award.

The family wishes to thank Nancy’s beloved caregivers Jennifer, Bibi and Yaz, the Milton and Hattie Kutz Home (especially Jewell, Melissa and Doris), Griswold Home Care, Compassionate Care Hospice, and all the family and friends who stayed in contact with Nancy during her final stretch.

A celebrations of Nancy’s life will take place at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, 1808 Woodmont Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37215 on Saturday, June 16, at 10:00 a.m. To honor Nancy’s life, contributions may be made to The Music School of Delaware, the Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, or your charity of choice.