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FESTINGER--Nancy, aged 57, beloved daughter of Laura and Martin, loving sister of Neal, devoted aunt to Rebecca. Loyal and endearing friend to many who loved her and a dedicated and admired colleague, died on October 31st at home after an illness. There are few who could match Nancy for her energy, zeal, and love of languages, music, poetry, books, self-study, true friendship and family. Recently retired as the Chief Interpreter of the US District Court Southern District of New York, she was also a translator of books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. She loved the outdoors and the wonders she would find all around her, whether in Prospect Park, the Berkshires, or Upstate New York. She loved the inner magic of music, spending hours at the piano singing and improvising. Nancy was a zestful traveler, a Parisian at heart, a troubadour in her soul, a tireless walker, talker, observer and sketcher of everything around her. She knew the importance of great humor, she laughed easily, and she made others laugh often. Her life was a beautiful watercolor, and those lucky enough to know her will miss her dearly.

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Published in New York Times on Nov. 2, 2012.
Memories & Condolences
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29 entries
November 7, 2019
Nancy, as December approaches, you always come to mind! Because of you, I got to be a singer and a federal judge known as Judge Rapp! I miss you my friend!
Errold Corbin Jr
March 21, 2013
I just learned today, from a colleague, about Nancy passing away. Even though so many years had gone by since we had seen each other, I always hoped that we would meet again. I am truly saddened by the news. My condolences to Nancy's family.
Karin Ruckhaus
February 20, 2013
I only just learned of Nancy's death from another close mutual friend. We spent several years taking Flamenco classes at Fazil's on 8th Avenue in NY and Nancy was a joy to know from the first day I met her. She was a gem of a human being, a rare spirit--her smile, warmth, infectious laugh, incredible sense of humor and compassion,she had it all. I am devastated at losing her as is everyone privileged to have had her in their lives. I shall miss her dearly. God bless you, Nancy.
Jeff Klayman
Los Angeles
November 18, 2012
Spent so many Sunday's at the Park Slope Food Coop with Nancy, during our shifts which overlapped. You and your amazing sense of humor will be sorely missed every fourth Sunday at 1pm.
Ron Sander
November 11, 2012
Although our community of translators and interpreters depends on words for its very existence, words seem inadequate to express the feelings of sadness over the loss of one of its most cherished members. May you rest in peace, Nancy. Thank you for your kindness and generosity.
Esther M. Navarro-Hall
November 6, 2012
I always looked forward to seeing Nancy. She was a bright spot in my day. Always upbeat, she made you feel like family. Her loss is heartbreaking. My deepest condolences to Laura and family.
Martin Schnur, D.C.
November 6, 2012
Dearest Nancy. I shall allways think of her with love and admiration. In a lifetime one sheldom meets a person worthdy of standing in the Pantheon of the Greatest, Nancy was. My deepest condolances to all who loved her, for our lose will never be fulfill.
Lola San Sebastian, Spain
November 5, 2012
Nancy, I will always remember my years in the courtroom because of you and the many discussions we had about books we both read and of course laughter. RIP.
Sandi Miaskoff
November 5, 2012
What a bright light Nancy was. Her absence is felt very deeply at the courthouse and beyond.
Stephanie C.
November 5, 2012
Nancy came to help us improve our skills, the Connecticut Judicial Branch interpreters, in 2003, and I have used her SDNY bilingual glossary many, many times. My love and admiration to Nancy's family and friends, recognizing her amazing powers of analysis and her abilities to connect people.
Jill Levine
November 5, 2012
Hot chocolate in Antwerp 2009, Lois, Carola, Nancy
My deepest condolences for Nancy's loss, she was a wonderful colleague and friend. Her contributions to the field of interpreting have made her unforgettable.
Carola Green
November 4, 2012
I knew Nancy professionally, and the loss of someone as vibrant and capable as she is truly a loss, on both a professional and personal level. There is no doubt that her legacy will endure for many.
Cathy M., Atlanta, GA
November 4, 2012
I am deeply saddened by this news. She was a great and gifted woman, and we'll all miss her dearly.
Ken Levis
November 4, 2012
I met Nancy at an American Literary Translators Association meeting, in about 1993. I was new to the group, and Nancy warmly welcomed me, made me feel at home and introduced me to others. We kept in touch over the years, and I always admired her wonderfully upbeat spirit, enthusiasm and warmth. I am terribly saddened by this loss, would love to know as well if there will be a memorial.
Carol Volk
November 4, 2012
From the moment I first met Nancy at an ALTA creative writing workshop for translators many years ago, I was struck by her intelligence, her boundless enthusiasm and her willingness to explore new territory. I feel fortunate that I was able to spend time again with Nancy on the advisory council for the Banff International Literary Translation Centre, at other ALTA conferences and in New York. I will miss her.
Susan Ouriou
November 4, 2012
I met Nancy through NAJIT. She was truly a wonderful person. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.
G. Keller
November 4, 2012
To Nancy's family and friends,

I will always remember Nancy by her ready smile, her infectious laughter, her giving spirit, and her artistic nature. Her article in "The Docket" speaks volumes about who she was -- respectful of all, rooting for the underdog, and frank and honest in all of her dealings. I will miss her very much.
Kristen Carannante
November 4, 2012
Nancy was such as wonderfully, lively mentor to so many of us. I am so sorry I did not get to know her better. But, I knew she was a beautiful person blessed with so many talents... even the talent to share her spiritual wealth. People like Nancy just don't come around enough. We will miss her. Please know she was admired.
Liana Arias
November 3, 2012
I met Nancy through the American Literary Translators' Association and have been a friend and admirer of hers for many years. When she came to speak to my translation workshop at Baruch College this spring, the students were thrilled by her energy and charm and inspired by her passion for her work.

She mentioned that her illness had recurred, but she was so vibrant and full of plans -- I felt certain she had many more years of life ahead of her and was looking forward to embarking on new projects with her.

The news of her death has come as a terrible shock. Please let me know if there will be a public memorial service for her.
Esther Allen
November 3, 2012
It seems inconceivable to think of ever going to another NAJIT annual, and not being to see Nancy there, not ever being able to read again, with delight, admiration, and whole-hearted agreement near each time, another elegant, on-point, and so necessary contribution of hers on-line. Nancy gave so much, to the profession, to all of us, even those of us who, being far away from her most of the time, did not get to know her personally as well as we might have had we worked together. A world without her seems unimaginable.

Though we all wish she could have been with us much longer, she was one of those persons who lived and did so much more (and with such joy, and such ever-giving kindness!) in the time she had, than many others in countless lifetimes. We are so grateful, for her!
Jaime de Castellví
November 3, 2012
I honor Nancy's many wonderful gifts as a person and as a professional, and her choice to share them with us all. She made such a difference! Thank you Nancy, may you continue on your journey knowing how much we care for you, how much we will miss you.
Melinda GonzalezHibner
November 3, 2012
Rest in peace Ms. Festinger.
November 3, 2012
Nancy, you will be sorely missed not only by me but from the courthouse community as well. The month of December at 500 Pearl Street will never be the same. You performed your position as an interpreter as a true professional, for me though your skill at producing the "Christmas Follies" was something to anxiously await every year. me and my family want to express our sincere condolences to "Mom" and "Becky".
"Judge Rapp"
Errold Corbin Jr
November 3, 2012
Dear Festinger Family, Nancy was always cordial, professional and helpful. God claimed back a wonderful soul.
James Plunkett
November 3, 2012
I am one of the lucky professionals who benefited from Nancy's work. Though I never met her, I admired the woman and the professional.

To her family, I wish they find strength in the memories they created together and the love that kept them there.

To Nancy, Thank You!
Giovanna Lester
November 2, 2012
Nancy's legacy in the court interpreting community will live forever. I am one of those who had the privilege of knowing her personally. Rest in Peace dear friend.
Lionel Bajana
November 2, 2012
Very sad news. Nancy was an inspiration to all of us as professionals and friends. Always with contagious energy and laughter, refreshed and renewed our love for languages and for what we did. She will be greatly missed. A beautiful person in her heart and soul. Cristina Didoné
November 2, 2012
It was a terribly sad shock to hear of Nancy' death. She will live in our minds and hearts.
David (and Nicole)
David Ball
November 2, 2012
Ever since I heard about Nancy Festinger's death from Roger, I've been wanting to write something, but have found it very difficult, not only because this has been a year of deaths around me, but also because this is Nancy, who can not be dead.
I first met Nancy in the mid 1970s, when we picked each other up at a small book fair in Cambridge. We became good friends in 1970s fashion, colleagues and loose companions in the best 1970s way. I used to sit in her apartment in central Massachusetts when she was working as a waitress at the Miss Flo Diner, and she would sing the blues — "Me & Bobby McGee" is forever associated with her as well as with Joplin. Later, when she took up cabaret-jazz singing, that became another dimension.
It was Nancy who brought me into literary translation seriously. Of course, as a writer, I'd been translating poems since high school days, but she sent me once a translation of a Robert Desnos poem, asking for my comments, and the only way I could think of commenting was to make my own translation — and her response to that propelled me forward. We stayed lightly in touch until I got involved with ALTA, when we saw each other annually.
Nancy sent me, and I still have tucked away, an unpublished full memoir manuscript of her year in Provence learning Provençal, "These Things Take Time." I urged her to try to get it published — it's as beautiful as everything else about her — and even tried to get her to let Zephyr do something with it. She was reluctant, said it needed revision. I would like very much still to see it into print. But more than that, I wish we still had Nancy herself. But I'd give all my tomorrows for a single yesterday..... feeling good when Nancy sang the blues.
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