Nancy Yvonne Sadusky
July 13, 1929 – December 19, 2017
Nancy Yvonne Sadusky, 88, died December 19, 2017, from complications of dementia. She lived in Seward, Alaska, for almost 70 years, and she is, as a friend put it, “forever woven into the fabric” of that community. She leaves a huge legacy: thousands of people whose lives are better because they knew her. And she was delightful to know. One longtime friend described her as “a bundle of dynamite energy who laughed and loved like no one else.”
She was born July 13, 1929, to Margaret and Jack Lorraine, in Lavelle, Pennsylvania. She had one brother, Bill, three years older. Her father taught her to dance when she was six, and, from then on, her dancing shoes were always at the ready. She also loved to swim, and in summers worked part-time at the local swimming pool, Reichwein’s. She graduated from high school in 1947, with her home-economics teacher declaring her “the best baker and the worst seamstress” in her class. All her life, Nancy despised sewing.
Her father was a coal miner, and, when Nancy was 16, he died of black-lung disease. To support the family, her mother opened a hamburger place, complete with a jukebox — and teenagers from all around came there to eat burgers and dance. Nancy cooked alongside her mother, but in between she danced, as she remembered, “with pretty much all the boys.” She didn’t have it in her to turn down a dance. But one frequent partner was Jack Sadusky, from the nearby town of Mt. Carmel. Like most local boys, Jack went into the Army in World War II, but they didn’t forget each other, and they were married in November 1948. Shortly after their wedding, they set out for Seward, where Jack had a job as a longshoreman.
Their first child, John, was born in 1949, followed by Diane, Nancy, and Tami. In an ideal world, all mothers would be like Nancy: she got a great kick out of her children, and almost nothing was too much to do for them. She fended off the occasional moose, so they could safely get in the car; she packed them lunches that were, as one daughter remembers, “lunches all the other kids wanted but only we got”; she was so enthusiastic at her son’s wrestling matches that she often came dangerously close to landing right on the mat. But she also had plenty of attention to spare for the many other children who came her way. As one of those now long-grown children put it, “We liked Nancy because we knew she liked us.”
Life changed in March 1964, when a massive earthquake and tsunami destroyed the Seward docks – and washed away Jack’s livelihood. He began working as a crane operator around Alaska. Nancy took jobs at the local doctor’s office, and later at the dentist’s office and the phone company. Still, raising four children and working full time didn’t fill her schedule: she volunteered throughout the community, and, as a co-worker put it, “no trouble was too great” for Nancy, especially if it helped “the underdog, the person on the edge of society.” A full list of her volunteer activities would cover pages. Here are a few: she volunteered at the schools; at the polls; at the annual Silver Salmon Derby; at Wesleyan Rehab Center; at the Senior Center; and at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, where she was a member all her life in Seward. She was a Cub Scout den mother and supported the 4-H program. She also belonged to the Pioneers of Alaska, and for years she was a proud player on the Swinging Grannies softball team. In later years, she spent many hours advocating for organ donation, a cause very dear to her. She also found time to bake thousands of cookies and make hundreds of jars of raspberry jam for fundraisers throughout Seward, for all sorts of causes.
Nancy lives on in the hearts of so many because she and Jack opened their home to the world: to roommates their children brought back from college; to relatives of those roommates; to cousins and in-laws and distant aunts; to friends and acquaintances and co-workers. Nancy’s cooking was the stuff of legend among those lucky enough to sit at her table. A friend, tasting her halibut chowder for the first time, laid down his spoon and declared her “the best cook in America.” Few would argue with that assessment.
Nancy is survived by her husband of 69 years, Jack Sadusky, of Seward, and three daughters and a son: Diane Liles and husband Bill of Honolulu, Hawaii; Nancy Masuda and husband Sam of Waianae, Hawaii; Tami Sadusky and husband Mike Anthony of Kirkland, Washington; and John Sadusky and partner Linda Leask of Anchorage. She also leaves three grandchildren: Gemma Liles of Honolulu; David Masuda of Wahiawa, Hawaii; and Christian Masuda of Penn Valley, California. Other survivors include her sister-in-law, Marian Lorraine, of Newhall, California, and seven nieces and nephews. Her brother, Bill Lorraine, died in 1995.
Nancy loved a glass, or two, of champagne, and, if you knew and loved her, please raise a glass in her honor. A celebration of her life will be held in Seward on June 2, 2018. Those who want to make donations in her memory can send checks to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Box 676, Seward, Alaska, 99664, noting that the donations are in memory of Nancy Sadusky.