Nancy L. Gagnon, RN, wife of the late Leo William “Bill” Gagnon, Jr., P.E., passed peacefully on October 7, 2019. She was 82 years old. A long-time resident of Baton Rouge, and in her later years, New Orleans, Nancy was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and grew up in Chester, South Carolina. Her formative years were spent playing with her cousins, fishing with her father (she’d always throw back the fish), and riding her horse around the quiet countryside. While she would regale her children with stories of her adventures, it was not all fun. When Nancy was just 13 years old, her mother passed away. While difficult Nancy persevered in her studies, and upon her graduation from high school, she was admitted to Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina. She was in the middle of her first year of college, in 1955, when tragedy struck again. Her father died. Without assistance to return to school, she went into the registered nurse program at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, N.C. in August 1956. Nancy earned her RN in 1959 and was licensed in North Carolina. Over the next six years, she worked for the Red Cross in North Carolina, for a Charlotte Obstetrician-Gynecologist, and as the Relief Supervisor for the acutely/critically ill at Charlotte Memorial Regional Hospital and Presbyterian Hospital. From September 1965 until June 1967, Nancy served in the Air Force, earning the rank of First Lieutenant. While in the Air Force, at Langley Air Force Base, she met Bill, who she married August 20, 1966 in Hampton, Virginia. When Bill returned from service in Vietnam, they settled in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Supporting Bill in his career as a civil engineer, Nancy raised their two children and joined the Women’s Auxiliary to Louisiana’s Engineering Society, Baton Rouge Chapter, in which she was a lifetime member and for which she served as President and published an annual fundraising cookbook. Beginning in August 1980, Nancy returned to nursing, working at the East Baton Rouge Parish Public Health Unit where she taught maternal-child care, administered immunizations, and worked home health. Between 1979 and 1982, she also returned to school. Earning her Bachelor of Science degree from College of St. Francis in 1982, Nancy then joined the LSU Student Health Center where she served on the quality assurance committee and chaired the infection control committee, while also providing triage, nursing in the clinical setting and administering allergy shots in LSU’s on campus clinic. Throughout her career, from 1973 through 1986, Nancy also periodically worked as a relief nurse in Baton Rouge doing occupational nursing at Ciba-Geigy and Exxon. Despite working a full schedule, Nancy and Bill were members of, and invited friends to join the fun parades and the Mardi Gras balls held by, the Krewe Mystique de la Capitale. In 1996, Nancy retired from LSU and began working at the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs where she worked until Bill was in a car accident in 1997. While nursing Bill back to health, Nancy worked part time for the Jefferson Parish Council on Aging, administering the Meals on Wheels Program, from which she retired in 2006. As the daughter of a furniture store owner, Nancy originally wanted to go into interior design as she knew antiques and loved hand crafted furniture. While she was not able to follow that dream, she loved to go antique shopping with Bill and they would often wind away the hours going from shop to shop. Nancy also enjoyed writing poetry and was an excellent researcher, tracing her South Carolina family’s roots to the Civil War and then the Revolutionary War --finding two ancestors who fought for the United States. Throughout her life, family meant everything to Nancy. She was an outstanding mother. Always a compassionate, giving and tender spirit, Nancy had an amazing inner strength. While working full time and keeping a comfortable, beautiful home, she supported her children and her husband in everything they pursued. Nancy is survived by her loving daughter, Mary Peyton; her devoted grandson, Stuart Peyton; and, her adoring son, Darren Gagnon. Her kindness, generosity and strength, imparted and taught in the most gentle and loving way over years of care, will live on in every step her family takes hereafter.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend the Memorial Services in the J. Garic Schoen Chapel of Jacob Schoen & Son Funeral Home, 3827 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70119 on Monday, October 14, 2019 at 1:30 pm. Visitation will begin at 12:00 pm. Interment will be private.
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