Nancy Tarascio

Obituary of Nancy Shagan Smith Tarascio

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In the early hours of Wednesday November 4, 2020 Nancy Tarascio, 86, died of cancer. Nancy was born in Brooklyn, NY on June 6, 1934, and despite having left that borough many years ago, spoke like a New Yorker for the rest of her life. She died quietly, with her son Jeffrey at her side, at her home in Santa Cruz, California, where she had lived since 2018. It's not possible to communicate the love, the quirkiness, the small delights that made Nancy so unique, nor is it possible to measure the immense impact of her life on those who knew and loved her. Nancy was brilliant, yet understated. Funny and engaging, with a willingness to laugh at herself. She was devoted to her children and her friends. She spoke to her sister Joan Shagan, who lived on the other side of the country, several times a day. Together they might sit silently on the phone watching a ball game. Nancy was an enthusiast of sports and of dogs. She loved the New York Yankees, but would watch virtually any televised sport with keen interest. Her last dog was Tori, a Maltese that could fit in a thimble. She was always by Nancy's side. Nancy was the daughter of Joe and Frances Shagan. Joe was an attorney and Fanny sang opera. Nancy and her younger siblings Mike and Joan, grew up in Greenwich Village, NY and Westport, CT. Nancy was an undergraduate at Stanford University and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She attended graduate school at Bank Street College of Education in New York City. Nancy married Morton Smith, of Miami Beach. They lived in Rye Brook, NY and raised three children. They were part of a wide circle of friends and worked in local Democratic politics. Nancy taught nursery school at the Ridge Street Country School for over 25 years. Her marriage ended in1972. In 1988, Nancy married Frank Tarascio of Port Chester, New York. They moved to Jupiter, Florida, where Frank had a large extended family, and Nancy became a beloved member of the clan. Nancy got a job as a teacher/administrator at Temple Beth David nursery school. It was a “temporary” job that lasted 27 years! In total, Nancy was an educator for 59 years, retiring at age 84! Teaching young children was her calling and her delight. She excelled at it, touching thousands of lives through her work, teaching reading and music, and supporting and inspiring other teachers and administrators. She gave thousands of little students their first opportunity to perform. Nancy wrote custom lyrics to Broadway show tunes, accompanying her young performers on the piano. In the spring of 2018, Nancy moved to Santa Cruz, California where her daughter Robynn Smith lives with her husband Gary Shapiro, and not far from the homes of her two sons and her nephew Ethan Shagan’s family. Nancy made a home at Dominican Oaks Retirement Community, becoming a popular resident very quickly and forming deep friendships with several other women there. Nancy contributed delightful poems to the Dominican Oaks newsletter, describing the goings on with the practiced eye of one who had watched soap operas on television devotedly for years. During shelter-in-place she stood on her porch and played her accordion for the community. Nancy stayed close with family, colleagues and friends from all phases of her life. She is survived by her sister Joan Shagan, and children Robynn, Jeffrey, and Rick Smith. Donations in Nancy’s name can be made to Hospice of Santa Cruz Alternatively, Nancy would greatly appreciate support of children’s’ music education.
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