Remembering Nancy Neu, Longtime Mission Employee and Volunteer

by | Nov 9, 2023 | News

Nancy Neu, a well-known Downeast resident who both volunteered and worked for the Mission, passed away on Sunday, October 29. Nancy moved to the region in the 1970s and spent more than 30 years working and volunteering Downeast. It was during this time she started helping out at the Mission. She was always ready to lend a hand and cared deeply about the Downeast community, especially those facing hardship. 

Many Mission staff and volunteers will remember Nancy as a passionate advocate. Alongside her son, she began volunteering to unload deliveries for the food pantry. She was passionate about childhood hunger and during her time with the Mission, Nancy championed the backpack program, assisted in creating pantries at local schools, and ran the Summer Meals Program, which provides a breakfast and lunch to all students in EdGE summer camp.  

In a 2019 interview about her work, Nancy expressed hope that she could make a difference in others’ lives. She knew what it was like to struggle to make ends meet both as a single mother to three children and later as a senior. Diagnosed with cancer five times, she never saw a challenge as too big or too hard, and she kept moving forward.  

That meant supporting the community who had supported her. She gifted the excess vegetables to friends and neighbors, and she also took care of the gardens at Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry in Ellsworth. While the pandemic kept many people inside, Nancy started gardens at Narraguagus Estates.

Each year, she supported families around the holidays, providing what they needed to have a meal on their table. This year, Nancy wanted to support the whole community with a Thanksgiving Downeast Table of Plenty (DETOP) meal on the Mission’s Downeast campus. She was working on this event at the time of her passing. 

Nancy will be remembered as making the lives of those around her better. The Mission invites the Downeast community and those who knew Nancy to join the DETOP meal she planned on Sunday, November 19 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. The event will take place at the Weald Bethel Community Center on the Downeast campus in Cherryfield. With produce provided by Folklore Farm, the meal will include turkey, stuffing, gravy, ham, vegetarian dishes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pies, and more. Nancy arranged for the Tunk Streamers, a six-piece Cajun band, to provide live music. There will be a remembrance area where people can display photos or other objects to remember her by.


In the days since we published this post, we have received notes from people who knew Nancy about her impact and her memory. We are sharing a few below.

From Bob:

Nancy’s good deeds were well known 600 miles south where she grew up. We, the members of the Wissahickon High School Class of 1972, admired her courage and her heart.  We were so fortunate that she was able to attend our 50th reunion last October. 

You know how sometimes there are forces that we simply do not understand or cannot explain. I administer our high school scholarship fund for graduating seniors each year. Out of the blue in early October, Nancy contacts me and says she wants to give. Part of me thought “Nancy, why don’t you wait.” The other part of me thought “Maybe there is a reason.” I said nothing and am so happy to have complied with what Nancy wanted. 

Nancy Neu is someone people talk about for years and years because there was such beauty in her genuine love and care for others.  Few have what she had.

From Stephanie:

Nancy was absolutely lovely and I enjoyed every meeting with her. I wanted to share a poem that Nancy shared with me, that so perfectly captures her beauty.

Can you hear my voice?
Poem by Sara Brading

Can you hear my voice?
It’s there for all to hear
It may not be a usual one
Not always very clear
Some days it’s hardly there at all
But frustrating as it may,
I have to persevere, you see
As I have something to say

It’s gone
The box, the vocal chords
They took it all away
But can you shut me up?
Well, no!
As I have something to say

One thing
Is that I’m still here
With opinions you can be sure
Equally as important
As they ever were before
They may not come across the same
Intonation’s not always good
But I ask for you to listen, please
In a way I can be understood
So here’s the thing, I know
I look and sound a different way
But I am still me, be patient, please
As I’ll always have something to say
So if I’m in mid-sentence
And I stop, it’s not by choice
So I’ll ask you again, in a different way
Can you hear my voice?

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