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On January 6, 2024, Nancy Jean Moore England, 86, died peacefully at home with her family. She was an active, longtime resident of Oak Ridge.
Born on February 20, 1937, in Rochester, New York, Nancy contracted polio as a child. She recovered by dedicating herself to swimming several hours a day, which helped to restore her physical strength and instilled a lifelong love for the water.
Nancy's father, a skilled photographer and cinematographer, fostered her creativity and curiosity. He took her on flights over Rochester in his two-seater plane, allowing her to experience the world from a unique perspective.
Nancy's musical education started at age three when her mother enrolled her in the Preparatory Department of the Eastman School of Music. She studied piano and eventually oboe and cello and wrote her first compositions at age six.
Nancy was passionate about painting and a member of an artists' cooperative in Rochester. In her senior year of high school, she became the only nonprofessional artist from Rochester to have an entry accepted into the New York State annual exhibition.
Nancy was principal cellist with the Rochester Interhigh Orchestra and played in the Brighton High Orchestra, the Monroe Symphonette, and the All-State Orchestra. Nancy performed in the Western New York Sectional Orchestra as principal cellist under the guidance of conductor Howard Hanson.
Nancy graduated from Rochester's Brighton High School in 1954. She briefly attended Valparaiso University but returned to Rochester and studied photography with Beaumont and Nancy Newhall at the George Eastman House, where she has a dissertation in the Eastman Library on the Dye Transfer Process.
She majored in geology in a male-dominated curriculum, where she was actively discouraged from pursuing her studies. In addition to academic pursuits, she audited athletic courses such as trampoline and swimming and took credit courses in physical education.
While at the University of Rochester, Nancy took on various part-time jobs. One of these positions was in the hematology department of the AEC (Atomic Energy Commission, now the U.S. Department of Energy), where she drew and analyzed blood samples from individuals working with radiation at the AEC, the university campus, and Strong Memorial Hospital. Nancy also assisted her supervisor, Dr. Marylou Ingram, in researching blood cancer. Nancy graded papers for the Chemistry department and designed shielding for a Cobalt 60 source in her lab. Nancy had the opportunity to operate
and renovated multiple houses in Oak Ridge, transforming them into rental properties. the million-volt X-ray machine at the hospital. She built a high/low vacuum system for analysis and conducted experiments on Cyclopentanone.
Nancy married Alan England in 1958, and they moved to Oak Ridge after he completed his doctoral studies at the University of Rochester. They raised three daughters and were married for seventeen years before divorcing in 1975.
After arriving in Oak Ridge, Nancy wasted no time immersing herself in the local music scene by joining the Knoxville and Oak Ridge Symphony Orchestras. Alongside her performances, Nancy embarked on a career in teaching, offering private cello lessons to aspiring musicians in the area. Her vision led her to found a cooperative called Music Arts in the early 1980s, bringing together a group of like-minded teachers who shared the goal of providing exceptional music education to their students.
Within Music Arts, Nancy took on the role of Director, coordinating a team of up to 20 talented instructors. She managed administrative tasks such as billing and recital scheduling, allowing the teachers to devote energy to nurturing their students' musical abilities. She also dedicated time to teaching cello, leading musical quartets and ensembles, and conducting classes in music theory. She enjoyed arranging popular music pieces for student groups.
Nancy played a pivotal role in establishing a scholarship fund. She recognized the significance of making music education accessible to all, and the scholarship fund helped ensure that underserved students could receive music lessons.
One of her notable compositions, a setting of poetry by a former minister of the Oak Ridge Unitarian Church, the Rev. Arthur Graham, received its debut performance by the Oak Ridge Symphony under the skilled baton of Don Neuen and mezzo-soprano soloist Delores Ziegler.
The Oak Ridge Playhouse selected her to compose an original score for its production of the Tennessee Williams play, The Mutilated.
In addition to these accomplishments, she dedicated her efforts to the Oak Ridge Community Orchestra (now the Oak Ridge Philharmonia), which she founded in 1993 as a Music Arts summer orchestra for instructors and students. She was personnel manager and ran publicity for the ORCO in the early years, advocated for its inclusion in the Arts Council, and played in and composed music for the group.
Nancy's unwavering commitment to education and community propelled her to attain a significant milestone in 1973 — being the first woman elected to the Oak Ridge Board of Education.
During her tenure on the school board, she enrolled in an ORHS Building Trades class. Inspired by the knowledge gained from the class, she purchased
Her talents extended beyond real estate, as she won an honorable mention in a Better Homes and Gardens recipe contest for her original recipe, Chicken Sub-Gumbo, earning her a set of copper-plated cookware.
In addition to her culinary pursuits, she ran a thriving calligraphy business for many years until the advent of desktop publishing. She actively contributed to the Oak Ridge community as an Oak Ridge Arts Council member.
Nancy exchanged vows with Brandt Kuperstock in a Quaker ceremony in 1977, facilitated by the West Knoxville Friends Meeting. Following Brandt's retirement, the couple embarked on a series of adventures, exploring various corners of the globe. She and Brandt shared a peaceful, loving, and supportive marriage until his death in 2015.
Nancy was preceded in death by her husband Brandt; her parents, Richard Milton Moore and Ruth Belle McConnell Moore; and stepson Alan Kuperstock. Surviving her are three daughters and their spouses, Jean and Vance Reese of North Carolina, Julie England and Raja Thiagarajan of Indiana, and Sandy England and Karen Hyrkas of Maryland; adopted daughter Teja and Dan Cain of Knoxville; and four stepsons, Eric Kuperstock of California, Steven Kuperstock of Louisiana, Stuart Kuperstock and Kathy Jernigan of Nashville, and Art Kuperstock of California; as well as her grandchildren, Jonathan Reese, Jason Thiagarajan, Niki Cain, and Sasha Cain. Debbie and James Brown are special friends and expert caregivers. Also surviving her is the father of her daughters, Alan England.
Nancy's ashes will be interred at Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York. A commemorative event will be held in Oak Ridge in the spring to celebrate Nancy's life and legacy. Those who wish to honor her memory may contribute to an organization of their choosing or donate to the Sallie McCaskill Memorial Scholarship Committee at P.O. Box 4906, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-4906.