Nancy Ellen Dolenga, 85, of Hendersonville passed away peacefully at home on July 11, 2020.
Nancy was an amazing wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, and friend. She had a heart of gold and spent her life helping, caring for, and thinking of others. Nancy was a remarkable person with a strong faith who was selfless, kind, and generous. She was a caring and supportive counselor, confidant, advisor and mentor to family and friends. She was intelligent, strong, sharp as a tack up to the very end, adroit, and unflappable. Nancy touched so many people’s lives in positive ways and will remain in the hearts and minds of everyone who had the pleasure to know her.
She faced and overcame many challenges, including surviving cancer twice, but Nancy always remained optimistic and saw the best in everything and everybody. She is now at peace in the loving arms of her Creator and Hal, her soul mate and husband of 63 years.
Nancy was born in Detroit, MI and adopted and raised in the Detroit area by her parents Maude Fielder Conner and William Conner. She attended Wayne State University in Detroit before moving to Annapolis, MD to marry her sweetheart, Harold (Hal) Dolenga at the U.S. Naval Academy. Many years later, Nancy completed her studies and earned a B.A. in Psychology from Chapman College in Orange, CA. because of Hal’s career as a Navy officer, Nancy and their children moved frequently and lived in many places in addition to Detroit and Annapolis, including San Diego, CA; Boston, MA; Naples, Italy; Evanston, IL; Alexandria, VA; Allentown, PA; and Orange Park, FL before settling in Hendersonville.
Nancy has worn many hats throughout her life, working as an elementary school teacher, mother and homemaker extraordinaire, office manager of a psychology practice, and a licensed real estate agent. Nancy was a full-time caregiver to her husband Hal for many years before he passed away as well as helping care for her daughter Kathy when Kathy became gravely ill.
Nancy enjoyed boating with her husband Hal in California, Maryland, and Florida, and was an exceptional first mate for many years. She was a spiritual seeker who was involved in bible study, bell ringing, and other church groups over the years. Most recently, she was a member of Balfour United Methodist Church and attended and was involved in Moore’s Grove United Methodist Church. She was an avid reader who participated in several book clubs and enjoyed playing Bridge, attending concerts and plays. Nancy worked as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer for a number of years, helping children living in foster care. When she was raising her four daughters, Nancy was active in the PTA, a Girl Scout leader, and an accomplished seamstress, knitter, and home cook as well as a teacher of all these and more to her children.
Nancy was preceded in death by her husband Hal, her parents, daughter Kathy and two grandchildren, Henry Ramirez and David Gutierrez.
Left to cherish her memory are daughters Karen Gutierrez of Tulare, CA; Julie Davis of Arden, NC; and Lisa Fennell (Shawn) of Waxhaw, NC; grandchildren Bryan Fennell, Alison Fennell, Amanda Davis, Cristian Davis; great-grandchildren Isaiah Ramirez and Dalila Gutierrez; brother Charles (Chuck) Kuzma (Carol); and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life will be held at a date to be determined when Nancy’s many friends and loved ones can attend and she can be honored and celebrated in the way she deserved. Nancy will ultimately be inurned in the Columbarium at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD with her husband Hal.
Memorial contributions may be made in Nancy’s honor to the National CASA Association or the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society.
Legacy of Love
A wife, a mother, a grandma too,
What a wonderful legacy we have from you.
You taught us faith, love and how to fight,
You gave us strength and hope, you gave us might.
A stronger person would be hard to find,
And in your heart, you were always kind.
You helped us all in one way or another,
not just as a wife, not just as a mother.
For all of us you gave your best.
Now the time has come for you to rest.
So, go in Peace, you’ve earned your sleep,
Your love in our hearts, we’ll eternally keep.