Nancy Fitts Donaldson

Donaldson—Nancy Fitts Donaldson, 93, on September 26, 2019, at White Horse Village in Newtown Square, Pa. Nancy was born on October 2, 1925, in Gradyville, Pa., and was named Anna Mary. She changed her name to Nancy as a teenager. A birthright Quaker and lifelong Friend, she and her family were members of Swarthmore (Pa.) Meeting and attended Middletown Meeting in Lima, Pa., during the summers when they stayed in their house with an adjacent peach orchard and ice cream stand on North Middletown Road in Gradyville. She went to elementary school at Media Providence Friends School (then Media Friends School), attended high school at Friends Central School In Philadelphia, Pa., and graduated from Swarthmore College, where she was known as Fittsy, in 1946.

She married her first husband, Peter B. Wilkinson, and after stops in Texas, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh, they settled in Paoli, Pa., where they raised their three children. They divorced in 1978. Becoming an active member of Willistown Meeting near Newtown Square, Pa., she served on every committee and also served as clerk and a trustee.

Quakerism was her life’s foundation, and Quaker education was a priority for her. She began her teaching career at Wilmington Friends School and was later head of Lansdowne Friends School; lower school head at Abington Friends School; and a board member of Friends Central School, Media Providence Friends School, and Stratford Friends School. She supervised student teachers for Swarthmore College, and outside of Quaker schools, she taught at Paoli Pike Elementary School (now closed) and was lower school head of Shipley School. In 1984 she married Orlin Donaldson.

Nancy was a planter. She planted ideas, ideals, and knowledge in the minds and hearts of the many young people and young educators she taught and mentored. She planted trees and perennials in every place she lived. The people living in her previous residences are blessed to witness the fruits of her labor in the daffodils that she planted in the yard of her home on Chetwynd Road in Paoli and the flowering trees and daffodils she and Orlin planted at their magical cabin in Ridley Creek State Park. She was a devoted wife and partner to Orlin and a loving mother. Friends miss her but recognize that they were blessed to have had her for almost a century.

Nancy was preceded in death by a sister and by her husband, Orlin Donaldson, who died in 2008. She is survived by three children, Signe Wilkinson, Geoff Wilkinson, and Gregg Wilkinson; two stepchildren, Storm Snaith and Kyle Donaldson; five grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; a sister, Ellen Millick; and many devoted friends. She is buried at Willistown Meeting near Orlin and other family members.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Maximum of 400 words or 2000 characters.

Comments on may be used in the Forum of the print magazine and may be edited for length and clarity.