Obituary: Nancy Albarelli, 1926-2022 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Nancy Albarelli, 1926-2022

Civic-minded Vermonter was a thoughtful mom, homemaker and volunteer

Published May 31, 2022 at 6:00 a.m.
Updated May 31, 2022 at 12:19 p.m.

Nancy Albarelli - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Nancy Albarelli
Nancy O’Neill Albarelli of Burlington, Vt., died on May 26, 2022. She was 96. Nancy was born in Burlington on January 19, 1926, to Hester “Rusty” (née Spaulding) and J. Howard “Red” O’Neill. Also a redhead, with gorgeous strawberry-blond hair, she grew up on Pine Street. She was a proud Vermonter with an encyclopedic memory of distant familial relations and local connections.

Nancy attended Cathedral High School and was a consistent honor student, graduating third in her class. She attended Girls State. She was a member of the drill team traveling throughout New England and was still an adept baton twirler 40 years later. Attending college was her plan, but World War II changed that. She and Hank Albarelli decided to marry while her mother, terminally ill, was still alive and before Hank was shipped overseas. It was a time when everyone knew the chances of coming home were unsure. She often shared memories of their high school classmates who didn’t make it home.

Although an only child, Nancy wanted a family of six kids. It is likely she didn’t know quite what she was getting into. At age 18, with her mother recently deceased and her new husband overseas, she gave birth to their first child. She raised young Nancy alone until the war ended and Hank returned from Saipan. She often said, “You really should have one to practice on. I don’t know how your sister turned out as well as she did.”

She and Hank raised five children in Burlington, with a brief stint in Washington, D.C., in the 1950s when Hank was called back into the military at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. While in D.C., she made sure the family took advantage of the many museums, parks and concerts near the Capitol. She was less thrilled with the tone of neighbors who tried to inform her of some of the “rules” in the South. She made it quite clear she would offer a car ride to whomever she wanted and they would be entertaining any couples they liked. As soon as Hank was done with his military commitment, Nancy wanted to move their family back to Vermont.

Nancy was a full-time mom and homemaker. She did work part time in medical records at the hospital but arranged her schedule so that she worked nights, after her youngest children had gone to bed. With three of their five children grown, Nancy returned to Trinity College, earning a bachelor of arts in American studies. At dinner, she’d happily share interesting facts from her classes. When she squeezed in time to study was a mystery. It fit into times that didn’t affect the family, though sometimes she was seen studying in the kitchen before everyone was awake. A civic-minded Vermonter, she was a longtime Election Day volunteer. She also volunteered with the Red Cross, helped move books from the Fletcher when it had to relocate to Memorial Auditorium and volunteered in various roles, from an AAU timer to a hospice volunteer.

For all of her life, Nancy had a love of books and reading. Her children and grandchildren, especially those who grew up in Vermont, have fond memories of the many hours she spent reading to them. Grandkids would enter the house at 780 South Prospect Street and ask, “Where are the new books?,” knowing that Grandmother got 10 new books at the library each week. “Don’t I get a hello first?,” she’d say as they snuggled in a chair to read.

Nancy was adept at mothering many of the people who came into their home. A teenage friend of her children once remarked, “She feeds you cookies and wants to know what you're up to.” She wrote letters to many and always had stashes of newspaper clippings to mail or save for someone’s visit.

Nancy was predeceased by her husband, Henry P. Albarelli Sr., in 2010, and by her eldest son, Henry P. Albarelli Jr., in 2019. She is survived by her four children, Nancy Gardner of Jericho; Michael of Alexandria, Va.; Dean of Northampton, Mass.; and Beth Lane of Westford; and by 10 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

The Albarelli family gratefully acknowledges the excellent care Nancy received from the extraordinary staff at Mansfield Place in Essex Junction, as well as the excellent staff of Bayada Hospice Care, all of whom undoubtedly contributed to her remarkable longevity.

There will be a funeral mass on Thursday, June 2, 11 a.m., at Holy Family Church in Essex.

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