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Nancy Giles

Nancy Giles

October 31, 1923 April 13, 2021

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Obituary

Obituary for Nancy Virginia Giles (Clymer)

Nancy Virginia (Clymer) Giles, 97, died April 13, 2021 at The Highlands of Wyomissing, with her family at her side. Born in Lebanon, PA on Halloween night in 1923, she was the youngest child
of Helen Gingrich Clymer and Robert Harrison Clymer. She was the widow of John S. Giles, Jr. who died in 1985 and was also predeceased by her siblings, Dr. Robert H. Clymer and Miriam Clymer Brooke.

Nancy is survived by her loving family, daughters Pamela Giles Bailey (William) of Naples, FL; and Patricia Clymer Giles (John Speicher) of Spring Township; and her beloved grandchildren
Suzanne Bailey, Robert Bailey, Nancy Liddell, Benjamin Speicher, Kathryn Bellish,
Jeremy Speicher, Sarah Speicher and Christina Hymer; and 14 great-grandchildren; as well as her sister-in-law Fay Clymer and 7 nieces and nephews.

Nancy was an extraordinary woman of many talents and interests. Above all else,
throughout her life she was devoted to serving others and her community. She was a civic leader, committed to racial and social justice, an environmentalist, a strong supporter of women’s reproductive health and freedom of choice, and an advocate for children, utilizing her considerable leadership and organizational skills to further these causes.

Her lifelong love of nature and the environment developed when as a young girl she ran free, playing on the farmland and along the creeks of Lebanon County. In the 1930s her family moved to Reading; she graduated from Reading High School in 1940, at the age of 16, and from Wheaton College (MA) in 1944, earning a bachelor’s degree in zoology. While in college she was active in the Wheaton Dance Group.

After college she worked in Philadelphia as a pharmacological researcher at the Wyeth Institute of Applied Biochemistry. In 1946 an article she co-authored on her research was published in the journal of Pharmacy and Experimental Therapeutics.

Upon marrying her husband and returning to the Reading area in 1947, Nancy devoted herself to her family, civic involvement and perfecting her golf game. Her spirit of volunteerism started when at Northwest Junior High School she sold poppies for veterans. In college she taught modern dance as a volunteer to local high school girls. As an adult, she was an active community volunteer with the Junior League of Reading, Planned Parenthood, Family Services, American Red Cross, and was a Sunday school teacher. In the 1960s she ran for and was elected to the Wyomissing School Board.

In 1962 Nancy returned to college to attain her teaching certification after which she spent several years teaching science and biology at the former Mt. Penn Junior/Senior High School.

However, the social and racial unrest of the 1960’s motivated Nancy “to be a part of the change to make society better” and for 23 years she channeled that commitment into her work at the United Way of Berks County. She joined the United Way in 1967 as a planning assistant, responsible for community planning and fund allocation. In 1976 she was named associate director and spearheaded new approaches to community problem solving. As a result, she helped establish the first community child care program and developed the model for Threshold, a rehabilitation agency.

In 1987 she received the YWCA’s annual Trendsetter Award. Her nomination for that award said, “Nancy Giles has been Berks County’s most influential individual in providing leadership to the human services arena. She has worked tirelessly to assure that community needs are addressed effectively.”

Nancy eventually concluded her United Way career serving as executive director, but she continued her commitment to civic leadership in retirement by serving on the boards of Olivet Boys & Girls Club, Children’s Home of Reading, Hispanic Center and Berks County Community Foundation. She was also active on the vestry and as a lay reader at St. Albans Episcopal Church, Sinking Spring.

Having taken up golf at the age of 13, she played at a high level throughout her life. Her husband delighted in having her hit her long drives from the men’s tees in mixed matches, confident her power would prove a competitive advantage. She also coached the golf team at Mt. Penn when she taught there.

She was also an avid sports fan, whether watching and listening to the Eagles, Phillies or Sixers through good and (mostly) bad times, or helping chauffeur and support her daughters during their competitive swimming careers.

Her love and knowledge of animals and nature was a life-long passion that she lovingly shared with her children, including always having dogs and cats as pets or having snakes and mice in cages in the dining room. Later she enjoyed sharing her knowledge of zoology with grandchildren by dissecting dead animals for them to explain how the natural world worked. She was never happier than when she was walking on a beach, listening to the waves of the ocean or hiking at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and watching the raptors.

In later life, she pursued her interest in educational and adventure travel, especially enjoying international and elder hostel travel with friends, and trips with her daughters and their families. She also enjoyed organizing Democrats in support of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns. In recent years she often said her dislike of Donald Trump is what “kept her juices running."

Nancy was a strong and stable presence in the lives of her daughters and their families and her intelligence, humor and vitality will be greatly missed by them. A celebration of her life will be private and held at a later date when all family members can be present. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in her name to the United Way of Berks County, PO Box 703, Reading, PA 19603 or Planned Parenthood Keystone, 610 Louis Dr., Suite 300, Warminster, PA 18974.

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Provide comfort for the family of Nancy Virginia Giles (Clymer) by sending flowers.
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Provide comfort for the family of Nancy Virginia Giles (Clymer) by sending flowers.
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On behalf of the entire PPKey community, we would like to express our condolences for Nancy's passing. We truly appreciated her continued support.
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Memorial Flowers Purchased

Flowers were purchased and a memorial tree planted for the family of Nancy Giles.
Comment | Posted at 06:45pm via Floral Arrangements
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Planned Parenthood Keystone

Thank you for always standing by us and for living our mission every single day. We are a better organization because of you. Your spirit lives on in the care we provide. May you rest in peace.
Comment | Posted at 04:05pm via Condolence
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Shannon

In loving memory of Da. A woman that has always held a special place in my heart. The memories that I have will never leave me. Thank you
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Memorial Tree Planted

Shannon planted a memorial tree for Nancy Giles
Comment | Posted at 01:00am via Memorial Tree
HG

Hazel Geracimos

My deepest condolences to the Giles Family on the loss of their beloved matriarch (Can't you see her chuckling over that title). Sadly, I only became friends with Nancy at The Highlands. She livened our Wednesday night dinner group with her droll observations. I loved her for her intelligence, wit and graciousnes, all of which endeared her to many others. I read her glowing obituary with a lump in my throat; however, she still made me laugh with her remark at what kept her juices running. God threw away the mold after making Nancy Clymer Giles.
Comment | Posted at 01:34pm via Condolence
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Anita L Chaney

Sending love, caring and sympathy to all of Nancy’s family!
She was a treasure!
My most memorable events shared with Nancy were volunteering under her leadership at United Way and the YMCA of Readings delegates’ trip to Germany
Her sense of humor, leadership skills etc were tops!
You are in our prayers!
Anita Lewis Chaney and family
Comment | Posted at 02:08pm via Condolence
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