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Nancy Boland

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Nancy Cory


Hendersonville - Nancy Cory Boland of Hendersonville, 88, passed away in the care of her children October 7, 2014. Nancy fought a very courageous battle with Alzheimer's for almost six years and continued to demonstrate her strength and strong spirit through out the disease.

Nancy grew up in Portland, Oregon and moved to Asheville NC in 1946 where she lived until moving to Hendersonville in 2000. At a young age, she contracted poliomyelitis. With discovery of the polio vaccine years away, she took up swimming as exercise to reduce the effects of the disease at the age of 8. Trained by long-time swim coach Jack Cody, Nancy excelled at the sport, and at the age of 13 entered the swimming scene at the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) national championships in 1939, setting American records in the 200, 400, and 800-freestyle events. Nancy, who along with Multnomah Athletic Club teammates Brenda Helser, Suzanne Zimmerman, Geneva Klaus, Joyce Macrae, and Mary Anne Hansen, were known as "Cody's Kids" after their coach, figured to be a force at the 1940 Summer Olympics until the games were canceled by the events of World War II.

Nancy continued to compete in AAU meets through the 1940s, setting numerous records, including shattering the 1,500-meter freestyle record by 17 seconds at the 1941 AAU championships. Nancy and her MAC teammates won three national championships from 1939 to 1949, and Nancy herself set 19 individual records. In 1941, at the age of 15, she finished sixth in balloting for the James E. Sullivan Award, presented to the nation's top amateur athlete.

Although the war prevented her from competing in the Olympics at the peak of her career, she made the United States team for the 1948 Summer Olympics. Now known as Nancy Lees (she married Whitlock Lees, Jr. prior to the games), she reached the finals of the women's 400-meter freestyle, though she finished in eighth place.

In 1980, she was an inaugural member of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. She is also a member of the North Carolina Hall of Fame.

After her first husband, Whitlock Lees, died in 1962, she married Hal Cory, who died in 1984 and then Walter Boland who died in 2010. Nancy is survived by 3 children, Whitlock Lees, Patricia Lees, and Caroline Cory Yarnall; her husband, Robert Harvey Yarnall, Jr.; step-son, Kevin Boland; and grandchildren, Robert Vernon Lees Grizzard, his wife Erica Jane Grizzard and their son, (Nancy's great grandson,) Robert Patrick Grizzard; granddaughters, Elizabeth Clare Lees Buckner, Katelyn Reed McConnell and Maggie Grace McConnell.

Nancy will be remembered for her courage, determination and strength of spirit through out her life.

Services will be held at All Souls Episcopal Cathedral in Asheville, NC on October 17th at 3 PM. Family will be receiving friends following the service at a celebratory of life reception to be held at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Asheville.

Published in the Asheville Citizen-Times on Oct. 12, 2014
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