Nancy Wilhite-Watkins, 78, of Farmington, entered into eternal life on Saturday, April 12, 2014, after a long and courageous battle against cancer. Her loving husband, Graham Watkins, was at her side throughout the battle and at her death. She was born Dec. 4, 1935, in Boise, Idaho, to Margaret and Watson Ketchum, both of whom preceded her in death. She lived briefly in Farmington in the early '60s, where she gave birth to two sons, Timothy Wilhite and Andrew Wilhite, who also preceded her in death.
In 1975, Nancy returned to Farmington to stay. She soon began her 26 years of
dedicated service to San Juan Regional Medical Center, starting out as Director of
Personnel and later becoming Director of Social Services as the hospital grew. During
this time, she earned her master's degree in Counseling Psychology from Leslie College
in Cambridge, Mass., and became an expert at identifying hospital-related community needs and turning them into reality.
Nancy was one of the founders of Northwest New Mexico Hospice, the first such service
in Farmington. She was instrumental in the creation of Air Care, the San Juan Regional air ambulance service. She originated the Angel Fund, which provides money for medications for those unable to afford them. She helped found the Rape Crisis program and for many years, she was the entire rape crisis team, on call 24/7. She worked tirelessly at Connelly House, a residence for families of long-term patients of the medical center. Nancy was the voice for people who had no voice. She served on the Board of Directors of Childhaven, Connelly House, Halvorson House, San Juan United Way, the Anasazi Foundation, the San Juan Symphony Foundation, the Cathy Lincoln Foundation, and the Farmington Museum Foundation.
Nancy was later inducted into the San Juan Regional Medical Center Hall of Fame and into the City of Farmington Hall of Fame for her outstanding service to the hospital and to the community. She will be remembered not only for her remarkable ideas and hard work, but for her wonderful sense of humor and optimism in the face of adversity, as in telling someone, when appropriate, to "go suck an egg." She was making family and friends laugh even in her final weeks.
In 2001, she married Graham Watkins, also of Farmington, and they enjoyed more than 12 wonderful years together. They traveled to St. Martens, Greece, Costa Rica, China, and Mexico and recently cruised up the Danube. Nancy loved to cook and entertain, to read and to collect Southwestern art and rugs. She loved her home and enjoyed remodeling and decorating it. There was no home improvement project that was too tough for Nancy and Graham to tackle together. She was also actively involved in her church, St. John's Episcopal, often volunteering and inspiring others to step forward and participate.
Most of all, Nancy enjoyed being a grandmother to her combined family.
She is survived by husband Graham and her grandchildren from the Wilhite family,
Derek Wilhite (Petra) of McKinleyville, Calif., Alex Wilhite of Albuquerque, and Devney Wilhite of Albuquerque.
She became a loved and loving member of Graham's family as well, Wendy Watkins (Paul Koops) of Cortez, Colo., Todd Watkins (Melanie) of Albuquerque, Tony Watkins (Jinx Baskerville) of Albuquerque, and Marc Watkins of Denver, Colo. Her inherited
grandchildren include Ryan Watkins of San Antonio, Texas, Amos Watkins of Albuquerque, Sawyer Koops (Lauren) of Biloxi, Mich., Ruby Watkins of Boston, Mass., Olivia Holbrook (B.R.) of Albuquerque, Casey Koops of Maui, Hawaii, Satchel Watkins of Albuquerque, Wave-Ananda Baskerville of Los Angeles, Calif., and new great-granddaughter Madelyn Pearl Holbrook.
Nancy will be greatly missed by her family, her many friends and the countless residents
of Farmington and San Juan County whose lives she touched with her special brand of caring. She leaves a legacy of compassion, competence and love.
The family wishes to thank all who poured forth their love and support during this
difficult time, with special thanks going to the Northwest Hospice team.
Following her wishes, cremation has taken place and she will be laid to rest with her
parents and her sons in the columbarium at St. John's Episcopal Church.
A memorial service in celebration of Nancy's life will be held at a later date at First Presbyterian Church, 865 N. Dustin Ave., Farmington, with Father Guy Mackey and Rev.
Glenn Perika officiating.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Northwest Hospice, First Presbyterian Church or St. John's Episcopal Church.
Nancy's care is entrusted to Alternative Choice, 804 N. Dustin Ave. in Farmington, 505-325-9611. Those who wish to express their condolences may do so at www.serenityandcompany.com.