Kent’s first female mayor passes away

Submitted photo.

Submitted photo.

Elizabeth Blosfield

Nancy Hansford, 83, passed away Saturday, Oct. 26 at Traditions Nursing Home in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

Hansford was born in Kent in 1929 and elected as the city’s mayor in 1982. For four years, she served as mayor, and she was an active member of Kent United Church of Christ, where her memorial service will be held this Saturday.

Reverend David Pattee, senior pastor at Kent United Church of Christ, said Hansford was not only a great leader in the church but also in the community as well.

“She was very involved with the church, both locally and regionally and nationally, and she was a very important and creative leader in the community in many different ways,” Pattee said.

He said Hansford led people in the community to see the need to step up and work to make things better.

“She was a forward-thinking mayor,” he said. “At a difficult time in the city’s history, when money was very tight, she was an organizer and very progressive in her efforts for the betterment of Kent.”

While Hansford was not a big fan of taxation, Pattee said she did push for tax increases that would lead to positive changes within the community. Some of these changes include the reconstruction of downtown, the increased collaboration between the city of Kent and Kent State, and the recognized need for improvement of Kent’s police department and jail. Hansford was successful in her efforts because she was well-liked in the community, Pattee said.

“Everybody trusted Nancy,” he said. “They knew that if Nancy was in charge, there would be no shenanigans.”

It was her personality that drew people in, Pattee explained.

“She was very matter-of-fact. She spoke plainly, and sometimes very bluntly, but always in really good humor,” Pattee said. “This is somebody you could enjoy working with, and somebody who was fun to go to the baseball game with, have a drink, and watch ball.”

This attitude that made her a natural leader lasted all her life, Pattee said.

“She was a sprightly gal,” he said. “She was 83 years old, but she was a sprightly 83. She was not an old person.”

Hansford remained a leader within her church long after her years as mayor were done. Her effect was not only lasting within Kent United Church of Christ, but also within the city of Kent. In fact, many of the changes she advocated as mayor are being put into action today.

“There’s hardly anything that we do now that she wasn’t involved with in one way or another,” Pattee said. “She and her husband, Bruce, were two of the most generous people that you would ever want to know and helped more people in this community in more ways than you could ever count.”

Calling hours for family and friends will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. this Friday at Bissler and Sons Funeral Home in Kent, Ohio. A Celebration of Life service will be led by Pattee at Kent United Church of Christ Saturday at 11 a.m.

Contact Elizabeth Blosfield at [email protected].