Remembering Nancy Jack

Nancy Jack , First Kansas Chapter Chair, December 7, 2007 The Kansas Chapter came into existence January 1, 1975 ( Sierra Club BOD approval was granted October 13, 1974.)  Nancy Jack, already an environmental activist with a particular interest in water issues was among those who helped bring the Chapter into existence and by happenstance became its first Chair.

The Kansas Chapter had its beginnings in the early ‘70s as the Kansas State Group, part of the Rocky Mountain Chapter.  At that time there were two unofficial groups, one in Lawrence and one in Wichita with plans for Topeka and Kansas City.  As required for Chapter status a regularly issued newsletter had to be produced and Volume 1, Number 1 of the Kansas Group appeared in May of 1973.  Nancy wrote three articles for that issue: a brief one asking for letters to help stop a bill in Congress, a lengthy one on the proposed nuclear plant at Burlington (WolfCreek) and a third in response to an Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson who suggested that environmentalists were to blame for the 1973 spring flooding in the St.  Louis area.

In that same premier issue it was noted that George Coggins was elected Chair of the Kansas Group at the April meeting of the Executive Committee and Nancy Jack as Conservation Chair.  Who, if anyone, was Chair prior to Coggins I don’t know but the second Chair of the state group was Ron Baxter who resigned in 1974.  His replacement was Nancy as announced in the October, 1974 (Vol.  2, No.  5) issue of the newly named newsletter, “The Greater Prairie Chicken.”  It was also announced in this issue that the Kansas Group would become the Kansas Chapter, effective January 1.  Thus, Nancy was the first Chair of the Kansas Chapter!  Following the next election she was properly elected as Chapter Chair.

In addition to Conservation Chair and Chapter Chair Nancy served as representative to the Southern Plains Regional Conservation Committee (SPRCC) and as Chapter delegate to the Sierra Club Council.  As an avid canoeist she was also very involved with the Ozark Wilderness Waterways group.

My contact with Nancy was primarily at Chapter ExCom meetings and meetings of the SPRCC when I became an alternate representative to that body.  Besides her active participation in the deliberations at these meetings, the one thing that stands out in my memory is that she was an inveterate smoker in the midst of non-smokers, forcing her to excuse herself to step outside to have a cigarette.  Two other things I remember about her – she always wore bluejeans, often with what I would describe as a “lumberjack” shirt and sometimes with a well-worn hat.  The second was her abounding concern for the environment.  Though I had lost contact with her after she moved to Missouri, I suspect that her love and concern for the natural world continued to the very end.

Longtime local journalist Nancy Jack passed away early the morning of December 7, 2007.  She was professionally active as a journalist until the final weeks of her life, Nancy was 80 years old.

By Tom Kneil

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