Nancy Hayward was a respected and sought after English tutor at Shaker Heights High School for over thirty years. Her energy, enthusiasm, and devotion to her students were legendary. She motivated students and staff alike with her kindness, desire for success, and keen interest in their lives. She was still tutoring until February 2020 because she absolutely loved her work. She was known for going above and beyond for her students. When a student was home recovering from an operation, Nancy went to the students house to take the student outside for evening walks. But tutoring was just one of Nancy’s many talents and life adventures. She was an active member of Heights Christian Church since moving to Shaker Heights from Atlanta, Georgia, in the 1970’s. She was very involved in outreach programs and the church choir, in which she sang with her husband George.
Nancy grew up in Nyack, New York, the daughter of the Reverend J. Edward Hamilton and wife Luella. She loved climbing trees with her friend, and visiting a neighbor who had elephants on their property. Elephants were her favorite animals, and throughout her life she enjoyed reading about new discoveries made about elephant families. Nancy, like her mother, learned to play the piano, and became so proficient that she gave a recital at Steinway Hall in New York City. Nancy would continue to play throughout her life, and in later years she and husband George had two pianos and an organ in their Shaker Heights living room.
After growing up in Nyack, Nancy lived in Syracuse, New York, where her father ministered at a church. During her high school summers, she worked at a camp on Big Moose Lake in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. There, she continued to develop her love for nature and outdoor adventure, while developing other talents like water skiing. Nancy learned to hold the ski rope between her legs and twirl two batons while skiing!
Nancy earned her degree from Hanover College and would fondly recall her time spent in Hanover, Indiana. She would go on to live in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Atlanta, Georgia, before finding her permanent home in Shaker Heights. She loved Cleveland and was always a big promoter of the city’s arts, music, and other cultural events. But her parents had instilled in her a love of traveling, and she found many “second homes” throughout the country with family and friends, including Estes Park, Colorado, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Wilmore, Kentucky, and Phoenix, Arizona.
Throughout Nancy’s life she visited our National Parks. She camped in tents and her parents Airstream trailer, touring the country since childhood. She inspired her sons to camp and travel as well, and she was a lifelong National Parks member. Some of her favorites were Yosemite, the Everglades, Muir Woods, the Grand Canyon, Arches, Acadia, and Bryce Canyon. But her family’s spiritual home has been Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park, Colorado.
Nancy was the beloved wife of the late George Hayward; dear mother of Lincoln H. O’Brien of Astoria, NY and David E. O’Brien of Shaker Hts., OH; dear sister of James E. Hamilton (Elaine) of Wilmore, KY.
Those who wish may make contributions in her name to Heights Christian Church, 17300 Van Aken Blvd., Shaker Hts., OH 44120 or The Shaker Schools Foundation, 15600 Parkland Dr., Shaker Hts., OH 44120.
A Memorial Service at Heights Christian Church may be scheduled for a later date.