Nancy Farina was Vice President for Development and Capital Giving at Dallas Heritage Village and an employee at the museum from 1992 until her death this past week. Following is my tribute to our long-time friend and colleague.
I first met Nancy when I was being interviewed for the director’s position in 1995. Then-trustee Walter Abbey organized a “get acquainted” lunch for me and several staff members at our Brent Place Restaurant. As we went around the table introducing ourselves, Nancy turned to me and asked me if I was a baseball fan. I replied that I was, and she nodded her approval, signaling that she knew we would get along just fine. Thereafter, few days passed where we did not have at least one brief conversation about the Texas Rangers.
Nancy at that time was supervising our volunteers and working some with our craft program. I soon realized that her true calling should be in fund raising. She grew up in this area; attended local schools and just seemed to know who the area’s important donors and sponsors were. When I asked her if she would consider transferring to being development director, she quickly agreed, and she and I partnered on all development activities from then on.
Part of what made her a success was her great love and knowledge of Dallas Heritage Village. She knew “the product” and could write easily about Dallas history, education theory, our buildings, our programs, and our events. Nancy built on her knowledge of the local community and worked to learn her craft, reading books, attending professional conferences, and staying active in local development professional circles. She was much more than a “grant writer”—she was a full-fledged development professional.
Nancy had a wonderful old-fashioned work ethic which served her well when her cancer first occurred 4 ½ years ago. She loved her job and found that having her work to focus on helped her to not dwell on her health. Even many of Nancy’s friends did not realize that Nancy never got off chemo treatments. She would receive her chemo treatments on a Monday, feel awful the rest of the week, use the next week to slowly recover and feel normal again, and then resume the cycle the following week. Through it all she always showed up for work and never asked for special treatment.
She kept up this routine until earlier this summer, when it became obvious that her treatments could no longer contain the cancer. Around the first of July we talked and she said that she needed to plan a “winding down” strategy, that she would likely need to go on hospice fairly soon. I helped her clean out her office just three weeks ago, and even then, she said that she wanted to work on one more of our pending grant applications from home. I got her home computer set up to work from home, and we even talked about getting her a laptop so she could use the computer more comfortably. Unfortunately, she faded very quickly after that. I knew the end was near when we talked last week and she told me she could no longer focus enough to listen to Rangers games.
In the coming days we will come up with a way to suitably honor Nancy and her 20 years of service to Dallas Heritage Village, and I will let you all know what that is.