March 21, 1927 ~ July 8, 2020

Born in: Hollywood, CA
Resided in: Torrance, CA

In Memory of Nancy Palmer Means

March 21, 1927 – July 8, 2020


Nancy Jeanne Palmer Means died peacefully at home on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, ending her struggle with dementia. She was 93, surviving her husband of 66 years, Duff Means. They raised 4 children, enjoyed 9 grandchildren and boasted of 5 great grandchildren.

Nancy was born in Hollywood, CA, to Harry and Zella Palmer. She and her younger sister, Betty, forged a close bond in the many places the family lived during their childhood. They settled in Eagle Rock where Nancy attended Eagle Rock High School. She played basketball and was a member of Job’s Daughters, crowned Honored Queen of her bethel. One of Nancy’s long treasured memories was the summer she worked at Yosemite National Park in the valley camp and restaurant. Thus began a lifetime love of the beauty of the outdoors. She attended LA State College where she met her future husband, Duff Means. The young couple were married on December 16,1950 and settled into married life in Moorpark.

Nancy started a career as a primary school teacher but left the workforce to raise their growing family. She used her love of learning to lead the neighborhood Bluebird and Camp Fire Girls group, organizing camping trips and service projects still remembered fondly by some of the members. As her children grew older, Nancy volunteered as an ESL aide with the Torrance Adult School program and found her niche. She obtained her teaching certification and enjoyed many years of teaching ESL to many grateful members of the community. Nancy enjoyed people, especially children, and found great satisfaction in working in the nursery at First United Methodist Church (FUMC) in Redondo Beach.

Throughout her life, Nancy loved the outdoors and enjoyed spending time gardening, camping, walking and riding her bike along the beach. She also enjoyed playing tennis and swimming. Often on family camping trips, she would rise with the dawn to join a ranger led hike or activity. One of these activities was digging for geoduck clams at Morro Bay which she then cooked on the Coleman stove.

Nancy was a great reader of mysteries and solver of crosswords. She loved words and word play. Even as dementia ate away at her memories, she would still point out an interesting turn of phrase in a book or a headline, saying, “That’s very clever.”

Once the kids were on their own, Duff and Nancy pursued their various interests of travel and music. With Nancy’s research, they traveled to the Shakespeare Festival, many of the California missions, and relaxed on cruise ships to places far and wide. On the homefront, Grandma Nan and Grandpa Duff offered their child care services to granddaughters Rachel and Kate with day trips to Griffith Park and the Natural History Museum as well as arriving early in the morning to get the girls ready for school. Always loyal fans of kids and sports, Grandpa Duff and Grandma Nan attended every soccer, volleyball and basketball game of grandkids Angelica and Jonathan, often travelling some distance to do so. During this period, they both gave generously of their time to Shared Bread, an outreach program for the homeless at FUMC, Redondo Beach.

Through her life ran the colorful threads of the love of whimsy, of cats, of music and books, and people watching. She had a great laugh and a grateful heart and will be missed by those who knew and loved her.

Nancy leaves behind son Duff II (wife Polly); daughters Deborah Van Velzer and Candace Gray (husband Rob); son Mitchell (wife Polly);  grandsons Duff Means III (wife Joanne), Robert Means (wife Meg), Michael Means (wife Cereta), Andrew Van Velzer, Matthew Van Velzer (wife Kate), Jonathan Means; granddaughters Rachel Gray, Kate Gray and Angelica Means; and five beloved great grandchildren: Tyler, Jaidan, Milo, Mace, and Fia Means. She is survived by her cherished sister Betty Kent Riley and was preceded in death by her devoted husband Duff (2017) and her parents Harry (1955) and Zella Palmer (1977).

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