Nancy Wells, age 96, of Kennett Square died at Crosslands on October 22, 2019. She was born in Wilmington, Delaware, where her father, John B. Jessup, was a noted banker and civic leader. Her mother, Marion Zinderstein Jessup, was a top-ranked tennis player who won a silver medal in the 1924 Olympic Games and was elected to the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame in its inaugural year of 1976. Her uncle, Philip C. Jessup, a legal scholar and a diplomat, served as U. S. Representative to the United Nations and as a judge on the International Court of Justices in The Hague.
Nancy graduated from Wilmington Friends School in 1941. There she fell in love with John Mendinhall, who shared her passion for horses, tennis, and flying. Mendinhall, a Marine Corps pilot, was killed in action in Okinawa in 1945; he was 24.
After attending Mills College for a year, Nancy earned her private pilot’s license at the Embry Riddle School of Aviation and served in the U.S. Navy WAVES from 1944 to 1946.
In 1948 she married James Milne, also a Navy veteran, but they were divorced a few years later. On her own with a young son, she worked at the Delaware Heart Association until retiring when she married W. Coleman Edgar in 1955.
During the 1960s, Nancy and Coleman and their children lived in San Francisco, The Hague, and Brussels, before returning to the Wilmington area, where they lived until Coleman’s death in 1988.
Always active in community affairs, Nancy served as president of the Junior League of Wilmington, chairman of the Wilmington Flower Market, chairman of the board of the Arthritis Foundation and a trustee of the Delaware Art Museum. She sat on the boards of the Wilmington World Affairs Council, the Grand Opera House, and the National Defense University Foundation in Washington, DC. She was a member of the National Society of the Colonial Dames.
In 1990 she was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to be a charter member of the Kennedy Center’s National Committee for the Performing Arts.
She was married to A. Judson Wells, Jr. from 1994 until his death in 2008. They enjoyed traveling the world together and spending time with their collective nine children and numerous grandchildren (preferably on a sailboat). She was an avid bridge player and a passionate devotee of Roger Federer.
Nancy will be missed by her many friends and family members. She is survived by her children, Michael S. Edgar and Kate Edgar (their brother Sam Edgar died in 2010), her sons-in-law, Gary Vogt and Allen Furbeck, and her grandson Kai Furbeck, as well as her step-children: Anne Harms, Lucy Hausner, Harriet Shaw, David Wells, Jack Wells, and Jane Wells, and their families.
A memorial gathering will take place at Crosslands on Saturday, January 18 at 2 pm. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Conservation International.
Arrangements by Kuzo Funeral Home of Kennett Square, PA.