Ayers, Nancy J. ALBANY Nancy J. Ayers, 86, known as The Purple Lady, passed away at her Albany home on Wednesday, January 28, 2015. An unforgettable presence, Nancy was known for her political activism, acerbic sense of humor, tireless pursuit of good food and, above all, her personal fashion statement; from her purple-tinted hair down to her purple sneakers, Nancy loved the color purple and surrounded herself with it in her clothes, house, jewelry, car and garden. She is survived by her husband, William T. Battin; her children, Lydia Ayers (Andrew Horner) of Hong Kong, China, James Ayers (Micaela Ayers) of El Dorado, Kan., Sara Ayers (Greg Haymes) of Castleton and Sarah Ritchie-Crowther (Dan Crowther) of Valley Falls; her cousin, Patricia James of Roanoke, Va.; her sister-in-law, Song Cha James of Valrico, Fla.; eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She was predeceased by her mother, Mobley M. James; her father, William B. James Jr.; her brother, William B. James III and her second husband Sydney G. Ritchie. Nancy James Ayers was born in Roanoke. She attended high school and college in Virginia and moved to Endwell in 1950. An environmental activist and educator, Nancy created the Susquehanna Conservation Council in 1964 and was the driving force behind the creation of five county parks in Broome County as well as the elimination of the use of DDT on county roads. She served on the Temporary State Subcommittee on Youth Education in Conservation and as the moderator for Speak-Up Ecology, a local WSKG-TV series. Her passion and commitment to the nascent ecology movement inspired and set the bar for others to follow. She moved to Albany in 1974 to work as an executive assistant to the New York State Senate Consumer Protection Committee, where she was instrumental in passing legislation creating the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. She later worked as an analyst for the New York State Legislature's Administrative Regulations Review Commission. After retiring from the Senate, she volunteered for many years at The Community Hospice at Albany's St. Peter's Hospital. Nancy loved fresh oysters, dry champagnes, orchids, ginger ice cream, amethyst jewelry, the music of Frederick Delius, lemon chess pie and just sitting and watching the birds in her lavish garden filled with purple flowers. She made lasting friends everywhere she went. Funeral services will be private, with a celebration of Nancy's life to follow at a later time. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Community Hospice of Albany, 445 New Karner Road, Albany, NY 12205; the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Northeastern New York, 12 Avis Drive, Suite 17 Latham, NY 12110; or The Fresh Air Fund, 633 Third Ave., 14th Floor, New York, NY 10017. To leave a special message for the family online, visit newcomeralbany.com
To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store
Published by Albany Times Union on Feb. 8, 2015.