Nancy Emmons

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Nancy Marianna Pierson Emmons

January 5, 1913 - June 28, 2014

Nancy Marianna Pierson was born January 5, 1913 to Grace Monkhouse Pierson and Temple Guy Pierson in the small southern Indiana town of Spencer, near Bloomington, Indiana. Her paternal grandmother, Cassandra Conant Pierson, had been a schoolteacher in Kentucky before marrying Joseph Liston Pierson, a private in the Union Army during the Civil War. Her maternal grandmother was a member of the Tyson family in Maryland, descendants of Elisha Tyson (1750-1824,) a wealthy merchant and early abolitionist. A short stint at the University of Indiana in the early 1930s coincided with the onset of the Great Depression and family financial hardship. She decided to move to Chicago to work, along with her best friend, a time she always referred to as "her salad days." She had a good job with N.W Ayer, an advertising agency, but after a time the glamour of California lured her West. She had some relatives in the Bay Area and chose to move to San Francisco. After being there a few weeks she wandered into an ad agency looking for a job, and was immediately offered a job being "Miss Oakland" on a float inaugurating the opening of the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge in November 1936.
Nancy married Donn Emmons, of what was to become the architecture firm of Wurster, Bernardi and Emmons, after he joined the Navy as a Lieutenant in 1942. After the war years the family settled in Mill Valley, California. Nancy and Donn separated in 1955, and were later divorced. Nancy became very active in the local artistic community of Mill Valley, California, and was a member of the Ann O'Hanlon's "Sight and Insight" gallery. She made large sculptural collages using found objects and natural materials, which were abundant in her large garden. She also maintained a large circle of friends in the greater Bay Area, especially in San Francisco. She outlived all of her own generation of friends, and had a special place in the lives of the children and grandchildren of that artistic and architectural community that sprang up in the Bay Area after World War II.
She is survived by Zette Emmons, of New York, NY; Luli Emmons, of Berkeley; Andrew (Mush) Emmons, of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil; her son-in-law Frank Graetch, and two grandchildren, Rory Graetch and Anya Graetch. Zenaida Lacsamana was a devoted and loving caregiver in the last years of her life. Her wide circle of friends, young and old, came together for her 100th birthday on January 5, 2013. Any plans for a future memorial will be announced at a later date.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on July 11, 2014
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