Nancy Gruner Strong

Strong—Nancy Gruner Strong, 92, on January 10, 2024, holding hands with her husband, Bill, and their two children, Tom and Laura, at Pennswood Village, a Quaker-founded retirement community in Newtown, Pa. Nancy was born on April 16, 1931, to Paul and Marge Gruner in Detroit, Mich. During her early years, her family moved between towns in Kentucky and Ohio and her grandparents’ home in Michigan. Her mother was a music teacher who taught Nancy and her younger brother and sister how to be good neighbors. Her father was a sociable, public-spirited parent. Both were active in the Methodist Church.

Nancy completed her undergraduate studies in political science and education at Bowling Green University in Ohio. She participated in a summer-long seminar in Washington, D.C., where she met Bill Strong. In 1957, Nancy and Bill married. They would be stalwart Quaker partners for 66 years.

After living briefly in Washington, D.C., Nancy and Bill moved to New York City’s Upper West Side. They joined the fledgling Morningside Meeting on Columbia University’s campus. In 1963, Nancy received a master’s degree in international development from Columbia. As Nancy described in her spiritual journey presented at Newtown (Pa.) Meeting in March 2015, “On Friday nights I retreated to the Lower East Side living room of the head of AFSC to meet with Bayard Rustin, Buckminster Fuller, and other thinker-doers of the time, and joined weekend workcamps to paint walls and plug up rat holes in East Harlem . . . and work with mental patients on Rikers Island, where I witnessed the change from locking up patients as prisoners to medicating them to where we could dance together.”

Nancy worked for the United Nations in New York for three years. She left the UN to serve with Bill in a program for food distribution and family planning in Latin America. Moving to the Boston, Mass. area during the Vietnam War years, she took part in many antiwar protests and appeared before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in its first test of fair housing.

In 1972, illness in Bill’s family brought Nancy and Bill to Newtown, where she became a member of Newtown Meeting. Nancy worked for six years at George School as director of alumni affairs and publications. In 1980, Nancy left her position at George School to devote herself to peace and justice pursuits full-time.

In the spring of 1982, Friends from 26 organizations met at Pennswood to form the Bucks Alliance for Nuclear Disarmament, which in time morphed into the Peace Center, emphasizing positive peacemaking in schools and communities. She helped guide the organization during its early years. After she left, the Peace Center Board honored Nancy and Bill as “Legends of Peace Leadership.”

Nancy became a prime mover in Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom weekly protests at Thiokol Corporation in Newtown, which led to a shareholder resolution challenging that company’s production of the MX missile.

During the 1990s, Nancy was on the staff of the Bucks County Housing Group, serving homeless families.

Over the years, Nancy’s life was enriched by picking cotton in Nicaragua, pruning grapes at Koinonia Farm in Georgia, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, being part of the Pendle Hill community, and participating in a Gandhi seminar in southern France. She also participated in the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.

Nancy is survived by her husband, Bill Strong; two children, Laura Strong (Eric Dutaud) and Tom Strong (Pura Llorente); four grandchildren; and a sister, Barbara.

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.