Nancy Fink Lower, age 82, of Springville, Utah, died on May 14, 2019, surrounded by her family. She was born on September 21, 1936, in Evanston, Illinois, to Walker and Alice Fink, and lived her first 20 years in the upper Midwest. She was a talented singer and pianist who performed her entire life and had a deep love of sacred and classical music. Nancy was raised in the Free Methodist Church and became Presbyterian later in life. Her faith was so core to her being, serving as her foundation that gave her divine hope and deep strength.
Nancy graduated from West Suburban Hospital School of Nursing, Oak Park, Illinois, and from Dakota Wesleyan College, Mitchell, South Dakota, with a nursing degree. Her dream was to be a missionary nurse in India and while preparing for this at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, met George Lower, a Presbyterian minister. They married in 1961 and lived in Anchorage, Alaska; Trafford and Edinboro, Pennsylvania; Springville, Utah; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Nouakchott, Mauritania; and returned to Springville, Utah.
Early in her career she was an OB GYN nurse, and despite being seven months pregnant, reported for work within hours after the 1964 Alaskan earthquake. Nancy received a nursing certification from the University of San Francisco, and was extremely proud to have been in the University of Pittsburgh’s first class of nurse practitioners. She was bold, principled, and loving in all aspects of her professional life. At Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, she created a reproductive health peer counseling organization for students. In Provo, she worked 14 years for the Utah State Hospital, and in her final job, she served as the Peace Corps Medical Director in Mauritania.
In 1999, while in Mauritania, an accident left her quadriplegic. Nancy inspired all of us long before becoming paralyzed, but little did we know what she would teach us after her accident. She welcomed her caregivers with a big smile full of love. The many people who cared for Nancy in her home became like family. She embodied grace and hope and the power of having goals. She loved the physical therapists and other clinicians at Utah Valley Medical Center who helped her regain so much movement and nursed her when she was ill. She also appreciated the care from staff in many places; most notably, the American Fork Hospital, Utah Valley Specialty Hospital, Salem Rehab, Revere Health and all the wonderful home health agencies. She felt a great connection to her many LDS friends, co-workers and clinicians because they shared a deep sense of the wonder of God.
Nancy was not self-pitying. She showed us that even if someone can't move physically, she has a right to exist, to be fulfilled, to grow, to contribute, and be taken care of. She had tremendous courage and was the strongest person we know. She lived life fully and planned to go whitewater rafting for her next adventure. Since being paralyzed, she did many activities, including painting with a mouth stick, singing in her church choir, joining a book club, visiting bird refuges, holding a subscription to the opera, travelling to the top of a mountain peak by gondola, and cruising to Alaska twice, by ferry and cruise boat. The fact that she lived 20 years as a quadriplegic is testament to her amazing caregivers as well as her great spirit and fortitude.
Nancy is survived by her husband, Rev. George Lower, of Springville, Utah; daughters Cheryl Lower (Massachusetts), Charla Lower (Utah), Emily Lower (Utah), Rev. Elizabeth Lavenue (Oregon) and daughter-in-law, Myra Lavenue (Oregon); her dedicated caregiver of eight years, Rocio Rivas; her great aunt, Joye Deardorff (Texas); her four brothers and their wives and partners: twin brother Newton W. and Suzanne Fink (California), Dennis and Marilyn Fink (Tennessee), George and Anita Fink (Colorado), and Tim Fink and Barbara Green (Colorado); sisters-in-law, Joanna Brown (Massachusetts) and Susan Bell (Pennsylvania); five grandchildren, Erin, Owen, Aria, Mitchell and Claire; 11 nieces and nephews; and many cousins.
A celebration of Nancy’s life will be held on Saturday, July 20, at 10:30 a.m. at the Provo Community United Church of Christ followed by a luncheon at the Springville Presbyterian Community Church. All are welcome to attend this celebration of Nancy’s life in words and music. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the International Rescue Committee or the Audubon Society. The Lower family is grateful for all the love Nancy has received over the years. An online memorial website is going to be created for her at GatheringUs.com under the name Nancy Cheryl Fink Lower.
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