The Passing of Nancy Samuelson

To the Williams community,

I write to share the sad news that retired staff member Nancy Samuelson passed away on September 12 in Williamstown. She was 86.

Nancy and her husband Carl came to Williams in 1966, when he took a position as the swimming and diving coach. Several years later, Nancy joined the College as the Health Center’s medical secretary, a position she held for 25 years. In this role, she was well regarded for her ability to make students feel nurtured and comforted. Her caring nature and love for Williams extended into athletics, too, where Nancy and Carl were affectionately known to the men’s and women’s swimmers and divers as “The Sams.” When the Samuelsons both retired in 1999, alumni established a scholarship fund in their honor.

“They were a couple, but they were one when it came to the love and respect they offered to the Eph athletes who competed on Carl’s Williams teams,” said Dick Quinn, director of sports information. “Their impact on the lives of so many Eph swimmers and divers is truly immeasurable.”

A lifelong learner, Nancy was a voracious reader and a member of numerous book clubs. She loved history and served as the chair of the Williamstown Historical Committee for several years. Nancy also had an entrepreneurial spirit. She and a friend opened the former Danish Tea Room on Spring Street in the late 1970s. Always social, she enjoyed traveling, especially to visit friends and family, and continued to travel widely in her retirement.

Nancy is predeceased by her parents, Tom and Eulalia Blake, and her two sisters, Anita Blake Smith and June Blake Burr. She is survived by her husband, Carl; their children, Lynn, Susan, and Matthew; and her nieces and nephews.

A private burial service will take place on October 17 at the Williams College Cemetery. The family hopes to host a celebration of Nancy’s life once the pandemic-related restrictions are lifted. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to the Carl R. and Nancy B. Samuelson Scholarship at Williams, or to the Parkinson’s Foundation.

Our thoughts are with Nancy’s colleagues, family, and friends.


Maud S. Mandel
Professor of History; Program in Jewish Studies