Cover photo for Nancy J. Poe's Obituary
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1940 Nancy 2022

Nancy J. Poe

May 18, 1940 — December 13, 2022

Harvard, MA

Nancy Joan Poe (née Green), May 18, 1940 – December 13, 2022


Nancy Joan Poe (née Green), the daughter of Edythe Mae Green (nee Griffith) and George Overton Green, was born at home in Franklin, Ohio. While the Miami river flooded the first floor of the house, Edythe struggled on the second floor with a breech birth. When the baby girl finally arrived, Edythe wanted to name her daughter after the memory of the flooding river; Instead, she opted for the popular mid-twentieth-century girl’s name, Nancy. Meanwhile, her husband, George, had to pay out a small fortune in bets because he had wagered incorrectly on Edythe delivering twin boys. Nancy’s unorthodox entry into the world was a sign of her approach to the rest of her life—a life done on Nancy’s terms. 

When WWII was over, Edythe and George moved to Cincinnati to be closer to family. While George traveled as a private duty nurse, Edythe ran their businesses, including a restaurant, a catering business, a bodega, and later, a clock repair shop. Nancy detested the vegetables from her mother’s bodega but eagerly ate dinner at the neighbor’s house (who happened to get their veggies from Edythe’s bodega. Edythe comped them for the veggies). 

Because George was not home often, Nancy spent her youth navigating the world while her mother worked. Nancy remained grounded through the strength of her mother and her grandmother, Ollie. Edythe and Ollie taught Nancy the value of being an independent, resourceful woman. 

In high school, Nancy excelled in drama, English, physical education, and social science classes (not so much in Spanish or math). She was a lifeguard during the summers at Cincinnati public pools. Family legend has it that one summer Nancy and her friends were teasing some Air Force soldiers who had returned home from the Korean War when one of them, Marvin, tossed her a nickel and told her to call him when she turned 18. Never to be outdone, Nancy would later take up that challenge. Nancy graduated from Norwood High School in 1958, having earned honors in her last two years and joining the National Honor Society. 

Edythe, who had not finished high school because of the 1918 pandemic, insisted that Nancy get a college education and helped her pay for college. Nancy enrolled at the University of Cincinnati. After a first-semester GPA of 1.7, Nancy quit hanging out at the bowling alley and focused on her studies. She graduated with a BS in Education from the University of Cincinnati in 1962 and married Marvin. They bought their first house in Oakley, and Nancy taught high school history for four years in Fairfax School District. When Nancy’s son, Bradford, was born, she was “encouraged” by her school principal to leave teaching since moms didn’t make for good teachers. Nancy quit and enrolled in graduate school. She proclaimed to her graduate exam committee that she didn’t give a damn if they passed her or not. They passed her. She received her Master of Education from Miami University in 1968.

In 1970 Nancy and Marvin bought a house in Mount Healthy and their daughter Mya, who got the name that Edythe originally wanted for Nancy, was born. Being the ‘70s, Nancy embraced the moment, learning yoga, playing the dulcimer, preserving the fruits and vegetables from the garden and orchard, jarring honey from the family bees, and joining a bowling league. She was a volunteer naturalist at Governor Bebb Park and Farbach Werner Nature Preserve. One day at the preserve, she unwittingly accepted some unwanted domestic white mice from a park ranger who thought they would make interesting pets for her kids. Mice would become more mice and then frogs, guinea pigs, hermit crabs, giant snails, fish, chameleons, a hamster, three dogs, and a snake. Nancy embraced a household full of many lives. Not content to sit still, Nancy also took continuing education courses at Miami. She toted her toddler daughter, Mya, to graduate statistics classes when she couldn’t find a babysitter.

When Nancy returned to teaching in 1977, she found her love in teaching third-grade math and science at Morgan Elementary School in Butler County Ohio. Nancy was deeply committed to the Morgan Township community, and in 1987, Nancy and Marvin bought a 13-acre farm not far from where she taught school. Over the next 20 years, the farm became a refuge for more animals—horses, ponies, dogs, cats, and a miniature donkey. 

Morgan Elementary School was a welcoming educational setting for a dynamic teacher like Nancy. She embraced project-based learning and writing across the curriculum. You could find her third graders out on the playground measuring themselves in relation to dinosaur dimensions, dissecting owl pellets, and writing about their scientific work. Nancy believed that with structure, care, and intellectual engagement every child could love learning. Nancy worked to develop Ohio state standards for math and science and was a member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and Phi Beta Kappa. She was a Jennings Foundation Fellow and was named Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics Teacher of the Year in 1991. 

After 23 years of teaching at Morgan Elementary, Nancy turned her attention to community-based work in Morgan Township. In 1999, she ran for Morgan Township Trustee. She won the election, the first (and only) woman to hold office as a trustee in the township. Her male opponent refused to shake her hand on the night she won.  

Over the next 16 years, Nancy would champion zoning policies and encourage Morgan Township landowners to put their land into conservation easements through Three Valley Conservation Trust to protect Morgan Township’s rural character against predatory development. She worked on numerous township projects, including the township hall (2000), the Walt Westrich Community Center (2005-2006), the 1858 Morgan House Township Museum (2008- 2010), and the Morgan Township bicentennial. As a township trustee, she was known for standing her ground against short-sighted budget cuts that would ultimately harm the community. She wrote many grants to obtain funding for township projects and took an interest in the daily operations of the township, whether it be road repairs or purchasing of new fire and EMT equipment. She never missed a chance to attend township and county events. Nancy embraced community-based work and was always eager to hear from township constituents on ways to improve Morgan Township.    

Nancy was a lifetime member of the Morgan Township Historical Society and was Butler County Historian of the Year. She served on the boards of the United Way and Vine Street Hill Cemetery (2006-2021). She was Vine Street Hill Cemetery president from 2007-2021. 

When Marvin died in 2015 of Alzheimer’s Disease, Nancy became a regular visitor to Harvard, Massachusetts where she would join her daughter and family every year for the holidays. Flying between Cincinnati and Boston became a regular feature of Nancy’s life. In winter 2019 on a visit to Harvard, Nancy tripped over the family’s enthusiastic Brittany and broke her shoulder. Little did everyone know that the fall would blessedly put her close to her family during the outbreak of the pandemic. 

In Harvard, Nancy found a welcoming community. She loved Harvard for its country-like setting, glorious New England autumns, and serene snowy winters. She enjoyed going to concerts at Fruitlands, eating at local restaurants like Filho’s Cucina, and savoring treats from Concord Tea Cakes. She joined in the 4th of July festivities and donated to the Harvard Public Schools for COVID testing. She especially loved her son-in-law’s cooking and made sure everyone knew he was an excellent cook. There was not an event with her grandchildren to be missed, whether it be drum recitals at Groton Hill Music or family art shows. She made sure her granddaughter Vivienne read those 100 books she promised for the library summer reading program. Her “buddy Jack,” as she called him, would gallop in the door every afternoon after school to tell her the latest news from the Village Nursery School.

Nancy was sharp-witted right to the end. She spent her final days watching cooking shows and PBS kids with Jack, having Vivienne make snowflakes for her bedroom windows, and enjoying mashed potatoes, stuffing, and turkey for Thanksgiving. On December 13—a beautiful New England winter day with a light coating of snow on the ground and a sunny, blue sky—Nancy slipped away peacefully—on her own terms.

Jack says grandma will come back as a cheetah. We are sure she will.

Nancy is survived by her daughter, Mya, son-in-law, John, and grandchildren, Vivienne and Jack, of Harvard MA. She is predeceased by her son, Bradford James, her husband, Marvin, and her parents, Edythe and George.

Services for Nancy and Marvin will be in Morgan Township in Summer 2023.

In lieu of flowers, Nancy would want you to learn about nature, history, and science; support your local public school teachers and students; and get involved in your community. Please send donations to the Morgan Township Historical Society (, Three Valley Conservation Trust (, and Village Nursery School (


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