Obituary: Nancy Wolfe Stead, 1940-2024 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Nancy Wolfe Stead, 1940-2024

Adventurer and writer extraordinaire passes away

Published July 1, 2024 at 6:00 a.m.
Updated July 1, 2024 at 11:32 a.m.

Nancy Stead - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Nancy Stead

Nancy Stead, 83, of Wake Robin, Shelburne / Stowe, Vt., left us on June 21, 2024, leaving behind a legacy of love, adventure and advocacy.

Born on September 7, 1940, to Gilbert and Betty Wolfe in Schenectady, N.Y., Nancy was destined for greatness from the start. After graduating from Concord Academy, she earned a history of art degree from Smith College in 1962. She then embarked on her first job at Polaroid in Boston, where she was one of only three employees who knew the entire formula for Polaroid’s color film.

On a fateful errand to Stowe, Nancy met Dick Carlson, decided to forego Polaroid’s offer to pay for a PhD, married Dick and had two wonderful children, Carl (Skip) Carlson and Julia Carlson Aiken. She thrived on hosting family gatherings, teaching her children to ski and gathering friends for a float on her pond or cocktails on the patio.

Nancy embraced life in Stowe. She was an active member of the Stowe Planning Commission and volunteered for various organizations, including Planned Parenthood. As one of the founders of Carlson Real Estate, Nancy welcomed and supported new members of the real estate community and generously shared her knowledge and expertise over a 30-year career. Later, she represented the Mt. Mansfield Company during their expansion, embodying professionalism in every aspect of her business. From the earliest Ski Bum races in Stowe, her team, SLIDE, (Stowe Ladies International Downhill Experts, later shortened to SLID) was the catalyst for many of Nancy’s adventures with lifelong friends. The group became truly international, sailing for a week in the Grenadines and beta testing a new zip line in St. Lucia. Nancy’s negotiating skills earned them a free ride in exchange for an article!

In the 1990s, Nancy’s life took another exciting turn when she met her second husband, Jim Stead, in Stowe. Jim left for Vanuatu and the Peace Corps in 1991. Missing Nancy, he proposed via FAX (due to the scarcity of phones), and she joined him shortly thereafter. They were married in May 1992 by the Reverend Hajuju on the island of Erakor, surrounded by family. While Jim worked for the Peace Corps and USAID, Nancy pursued a degree in Melanesian culture, managed a project in small business development and passionately advocated for women’s rights.

Nancy and Jim returned to Stowe in 1995, where they built a new house. They continued to travel the world, and she particularly enjoyed her summers playing tennis at the Stowe Tennis Club, swimming wherever she found a cool body of water, and kayaking and cruising on Lake Champlain in their Albin 27 trawler.

Nancy was brilliant, passionate and adventurous and wrote travel profiles for the Stowe Reporter, Sail Magazine and the travel sections of numerous national newspapers. The townspeople enjoyed her “gossip” column, which she revived from earlier years when it was known as “Over the Fence.” Nancy’s version was much more colorful, especially when she scolded those who had Christmas wreaths still hanging in March. As she stated: “You know who you are.” Everyone quickly removed their wreaths.

Nancy moved to Wake Robin with Jim in 2018, where she continued her passion for travel, writing and her many athletic endeavors. Her heart never left Stowe, and she visited often.

Nancy was predeceased by her son, Carl (Skip); her sister, Caroline Kostanecki; her brother-in-law, Bruce Biddle; and her parents, Betty and Gilbert Wolfe. She is survived by her husband, Jim; daughter, Julia, and her husband, Andy Aiken, and their daughter, Abby; her grandson, Franklin Jin; her granddaughter, Hanna Carlson; her sister, Betsy Biddle; and Jim’s daughters: Louisa Zai-Ravaris and her husband, Paul Ravaris, and Katy and her husband, Jason Watkins; and many nieces and nephews.

The Stead family sends a special thank you to the caring staff on the Juniper wing of Wake Robin, Bayada Hospice and dear family and friends.

A celebration of Nancy’s life will be held on July 11, from 2-4 p.m., at the Green Mountain Inn. All are welcome to come and share their stories. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Planned Parenthood or Friends of Green River Reservoir.

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