Pittsford, NY: Nancy Eckerson Fitts, 86, passed away on March 4, 2019, surrounded by family after a long decline from Alzheimer’s.
Nancy Hopkins Fouquet was born in Queens, NY on August 14, 1932. Her brother, Frederick “Fritz” Fouquet, Jr was born six years later.
In 1953, Nancy married Harold “Skip” Eckerson and had two children, Dayton and Meg. They lived on Helen Road in Brighton. She worked as a medical secretary for many years at Rochester Memorial Hospital and for several private medical practices. She and Skip were married 22 years before divorcing.
Nancy married Richard “Dick” Fitts in 1977 and their version of the Brady Bunch was born. The Fitts-Eckerson clan now consisted of (in order of age spread over seven years): Andy Fitts, Dayton Eckerson, Jeff Fitts, Meg Eckerson and Judi Fitts. Only Meg and Judi were still in school at that point, college and high school respectively.
Nancy always concerned herself with the health and happiness of others. As long-time friend Gail Mott described her, “Nancy was always behind the scenes, hosting and making arrangements, and she did so with love and grace. She was always there for people.” This was never more apparent than in her and Dick’s involvement in the Rochester Unitarian Church where they remained deeply committed for many decades. Nancy was instrumental in several committees charged with offering support to members in need, as well as families wishing to memorialize a loved one.
Her caring also extended to the gay and lesbian community through her pivotal role on the AIDS Task Force and Interfaith Advocates for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Concerns. The following is a remembrance from Nancy’s friend Gwen Wollney:
“I was the secretary for Interfaith advocates in the late 90’s, early 2000’s when Nancy was the co-chair of the group. At the time, most churches were in even greater turmoil than they are today on the issue of acknowledging, let alone accepting, those of us who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. It was difficult to be a person of faith, and be honest about our sexuality due to the hostility from organized religion, and distrust within the gay community. It was a blessing to work with a mixed group of straight and LGBT people who were moving forward in a positive way, opening up dialogue as well as minds and supporting LGBT inclusion. Nancy was a warm, determined and wonderful leader during my time with the representative group, as we shared the work being done in each of our communities of faith, marched in the gay pride parade together, and worked towards becoming a resource for others.”
Nancy and Dick were also very involved in anti-war activities, particularly the Nuclear Freeze disarmament movement in the 1980s. When critics of the movement kept asking “but what about the Russians?”, Nancy and Gail Mott decided to organize a conference to foster greater understanding of the Soviet Union. That idea blossomed into a major national conference entitled “Soviet Realities” featuring a keynote address by the former US ambassador to the USSR and attended by over 500 people from across the country and abroad. As Gail recently put it, “what began as a small gathering around our dining room table soon took over our lives for more than a year!”
After that conference, Nancy and Dick were instrumental in forging Rochester’s relationship with its sister city in Novgorod, Russia. In 1985, Linkages was formed to support this relationship and she and Dick continued to be the backbone of organizing events, travel, and hosting frequent visitors from Russia for many years.
Nancy and Dick also headed up the western New York presidential campaign office for Independant presidential candidate Rep. John B. Anderson. In recognition of their work for the Anderson for President campaign, Nancy was selected to be Anderson’s honorary Vice President on the New York State primary ballot in 1980.
Nancy is survived by her husband, Richard S. Fitts; brother Dr. Frederick “Fritz” Fouquet; children Harold Dayton Eckerson, Andrew Fitts, Jeffrey Fitts, Judith Fitts; and grandchildren Henry Fitts, Peter Fitts, Charlotte Fitts-Sprague, Peter Fitts-Sprague, and Margaret Yeqian Eckerson. Her daughter, Margaret “Meg” Eckerson died in 2001.
Services will be held at First Unitarian Church of Rochester, June 8, 2019 at 10:30am. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Richard & Nancy Fitts Fund for Justice, First Unitarian Church of Rochester, 220 Winton Road South, Rochester, NY 14610.