Nancy Mary Belt Vincent

Obituary
3 entries
  • " Mrs. Vincent, You are the best teacher and an awesome..."
  • "Lots of sweet memories of a sweet lady."
    - Paula Wilson Austin
  • "Nan, So sorry for your loss. South Park has been blessed..."
    - Selma Wilson
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Nancy Mary began her calling as a teacher early, lining up her four younger siblings on the front steps of the old frame house in Silsbee to share the joys of stringing letters into words and building words into sentences, into pictures of faraway places and long-ago times. Her sisters and the neighborhood kids were always the pupils. Nancy was always the teacher. Nancy Mary Belt Vincent came into the world in the small frame house on Roosevelt Street in Silsbee, Texas, July 25, 1923, the second child and first daughter of Cloye Taylor and Morris A. Belt's six kids. Family illnesses soon shaped her role as2nd mother to her siblings, especially the noisy, rambunctious, irrepressible twins. Morris and Cloye Belt placed great value on education and single mindedly worked to provide learning opportunities for their children. Despite the hardships of the 30's, the Belt's bartered and finagled for music and dancing lessons for all their children. The old house was filled with the notes of piano, violin, and saxophone, but Nancy's special love of all the rich arts buffet was ballet. By the time she reached high school, she opened the Nancy Belt School of Dance, sewing the costumes for her young students, then donating the proceeds from their recital to finance the junior-senior prom at South Park High School. Over her remarkable lifetime, she inspired school children in classrooms from Houston to Bremerton Washington and Nederland. She taught Sunday school. She volunteered as tutor at the Literacy Depot. Even in retirement, Nancy took those who never had the opportunity to learn to read under her wing, and also taught the intricacies of English as a second language to eager learners from across the globe. Having begun her life as a natural teacher, she never wavered. Nancy taught using words (Pretty is as pretty does. and When at first a task's begun, never quit until it's done.) and by her steady and luminous example, as wife and mother and sister, as aunt and friend and as Mrs. Vincent in room 105 of Hillcrest Elementary School. Nancy never wavered in imparting truth, character or joy in giving to all she met. When Nancy was 15, the Mr. and Mrs. Belt moved their brood to Beaumont so that their children could further their education at the new South Park Junior College. It was the type of move that directs a life-path. In her 16th summer, Nancy landed a job as cashier at the Alice Keith Park swimming pool where her slender beauty caught the eye of the handsome young lifeguard Bruce Vincent. And, since the Vincent's lived less than a half block from the Belt house, the lifeguard chivalrously offered Mrs. Belt to escort her daughter home after work in the evenings. Although Bruce was a worldly older man, He had already been two years in college at A&M, Pa Belt blessed the youngsters' romance. When Bruce returned for the fall semester to A&M, Nancy wrote to him every day as she had promised, encouraging Bruce to study hard and complete his degree in engineering. In September of 1941, and under the strict condition that Nancy complete her own college education, Mr. Belt gave Bruce permission to marry his sweetheart for life. The couple set up housekeeping in Houston where Bruce worked in the shipyard while Nancy finished her degree, as promised, in Elementary Education at the University of Houston. On a crisp, clear December newlyweds Bruce and Nancy had gone for a Sunday outing to the drag races when the speaker blared the unthinkable: Pearl Harbor had been bombed. As soon as Nancy graduated in January, Bruce enlisted in the Navy. By the next summer Bruce was stationed at Bremerton Shipyard where Nancy joined him and they spent the war years. Returning home to Beaumont, the Vincent's did their bit for the baby boom and soon welcomed Bruce Jr. in 1946, Nan in 1949 and Rene in 1951. Nancy was a superb and devoted mother, an extraordinarily joyous homemaker drawing deep satisfaction in 'doing for' her family. Nothing she did was haphazard. Nancy attended every detail of her family's care with love both meticulous and purposive, methodically starching and ironing Bruce's shirts and the girls' ballet costumes, stitching miles of nylon net into tutus, present front and center at her endless renditions of piano, voice and dancing recitals, school plays and marching band performances. A kitchen artist, Nancy decorated every potato salad with a boiled egg daisy; every pear half was adorned with a maraschino cherry. On the one hand, she was frugal, scraping a mixing bowl of cake batter until it gleamed) yet generous (saving back ample butter icing for each child to have a spoonful). She worked kitchen miracles every day, feeding a family of five on one can of Spam and a can of cream style corn; putting up bread and butter pickles and pepper relish in summer and observing the annual holiday- fruitcake- making rituals in November. No one ever felt hungry, not in the belly, assuredly not in the heart. When her own children were sufficiently older, Nancy returned to the public school classroom, grading each fifth grader's efforts late into the night. No teacher ever cared more deeply for each and every one of her charges. By the time her own children were in high school, Nancy had also earned her Master's Degree in Education, specializing in math and her favorite subject: history. In later years, Nancy and Bruce enjoyed traveling in their motor home, visiting nearly all the 50 United States, making friends all along the way. Nancy's frugality in service of generosity at home was not limited to the kitchen or to her immediate family. With careful planning and skilled hands, Nancy was able sew and crochet outfits for her many nieces, nephews, sisters, and friends. Nor was any niece or nephew's birthday ever forgotten. There was always, a card with two one dollar bills tucked inside. She made endless dozens of cookies delivered with cheer to those sick and shut-in and to homesick and perpetually hungry students at Lamar University. Modest and unassuming, Nancy never announced her random acts of kindness, she simply gave. She was a founding financial supporter of the Ubi Caritas Neighborhood Health Clinic, and supported her church and many community charities with her service as well as her checkbook. Humble and hardworking, no floor was too low for her to scrub, no pot too difficult to scour. Not only did Nancy teach us to serve with gladness, she taught us all with subtle grace, not by lecture but by her example. She showed us that kindness triumphed over all other values, gentleness towered over worldly wealth, and that time lavished in comforting the lonely and afraid was the highest use of that precious commodity. She taught us to see dignity and nobility in everyone we passed on the sidewalk. How? When she saw a person struggling with frailty or forgetfulness, she simply reached out and helped them. Poor old soul she would say, more as a blessing of mercy and mindfulness, than as a lesson to those of us who watched her. And how did she teach us to respect others, regardless of a persons' skin color or whether their shoes were new or scuffed? Nancy simply taught us to ask before we borrowed something, and to return it in good shape to the owner. She hugged whoever needed hugging and laughed with whoever needed release and joy. She attended common beauty that many eyes never notice, a hummingbird, a wisp of a song. Even when her brain betrayed her ability to recall the words, she hummed the old melodies. Nancy retained curiosity and wonder about the world even as it shrank and faded from her grasp. As the days grew dimmer, and her thinking more tangled and frustrating, she delighted more and more in the treasured memories from her childhood and saw the dear faces of long ago surrounding and conversing with her. In these last lingering days, too short, all too short, Nancy continued to light the way for us. Who knows the time or way of our own decline or dying? Still, Nancy continued to teach, to show us, with rare and profound courage how to accept the ministrations of others, how to trade a lifetime self-image of independence for allowing others to help. She taught us how to accept as well as give how to receive as well as serve. In her home, October 20, 2013, ever the teacher, Nancy led the way, showing us with grace how to let go even that great gift of life itself. We, her family, give deepest thanks for her life. We also thank those who have accompanied us and supported us, sharing the lessons of Nancy's journey with us. Especially, we bless our cherished lifelong friends Brenda Talbert, Joan Roselle, Eloise Peveto, and nurse Amy Meranda, Dr. Maria Blahey, and the staff of Texas Home Health Hospice. Among those who remain to cherish Nancy's lifetime of teaching are her son, Bruce Vincent and his wife, Kathy, of Lakewood, Colorado; daughters, Nan Nelson and her husband, John, of Beaumont; and René Tyo and her husband, Steve, of Frametown, West Virginia; grandchildren, Josh Vincent and his wife, Mary, of Parker, Colorado; Zachary Vincent and his wife, Kathleen, of Denver, Colorado; Eli Vincent and his wife, Meghan, of Commerce City, Colorado; Erin Galloway and her husband, Kenneth; Tim Conway of Beaumont; Keith Tyo and his wife, Kate, of Evanston, Illinois; Andrew Tyo of Morgantown, West Virginia; Stephanie Tyo her and husband, Stefan, of Tyler, Texas; and Eli Tyo of Denver, Colorado. Nancy also leaves her legacy to her great-grandchildren, Mary Elizabeth and Abigail Vincent, Peytyn and Oliver Vincent, Madelyn and Caleb Vincent, Jonathan JT Galloway, and Elijah and Olive Tyo. Also remembering Nancy are her sisters, Anne Sadler of Rockville, Maryland and Alice Castilaw of Warren Texas; and a host of nieces and nephews. Welcoming Nancy into heaven, are her beloved Bruce; her parents; her brother, Morris Edward Belt; and her sisters, Letha Belt Vincent and Lucie Belt Brumley. A gathering of Mrs. Vincent's family and friends will be from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., Friday, October 25, 2013, at Broussard's, 2000 McFaddin Avenue, Beaumont. Her funeral service will be 2:00 p.m., Saturday, October 26, 2013, at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 4445 Perishing Street, Beaumont, with interment to follow at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Beaumont. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial gifts be made in Mrs. Vincent's name to St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 4445 Pershing, Beaumont, Texas 77705 or to the Nancy Belt Vincent Scholarship Fund, account #3322726, Mid South Bank, 555 North Dowlen Avenue, Beaumont, Texas 77706. Complete and updated information may be made www.broussards1889.com

Published in The Beaumont Enterprise on Oct. 23, 2013
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