Nancy P. Welbourn
Former Garrison Forest School instructor had been an active member of her Owings Mills church for 72 years
Nancy P. Welbourn, a former Garrison Forest School educator who was active at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, died Sept. 11 of congestive heart failure at Blakehurst Retirement Community in Towson. She was 92. “Nancy was amazing and just a wonderful, wonderful person,” said the Rev. Malcolm Ellis, rector at St. Thomas. “She had an interesting personality, an agile mind and was always full of meaningful conversation.”
The daughter of Raeburn H. Parker, treasurer of Air Corp. Co., and Alice Lawrence Parker, who was a second cousin of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Nancy Parker was born in New York City and raised in Tuxedo Park, N.Y.
After graduating from the Mary C. Wheeler School in Providence, R.I., she attended Briarcliff Junior College in Briarcliff, N.Y., and graduated in 1944 with an associate’s degree.
“During her summers, she would don her cowboy boots and blue jeans — something proper New York women just didn’t do in those days — and take a train to Steamboat Springs, Colo., to teach riding and drama at the Perry-Mansfield Camp,” her son, Edward H. Welbourn III of Owings Mills, wrote in a biographical profile of his mother.
Mrs. Welbourn moved to Baltimore in 1944 and joined the faculty of Garrison Forest, where she taught riding, tutored Latin students and directed plays.
She left the Owings Mills school in 1950 when she married E. Hambleton “Ham” Welbourn Jr., a Connecticut General Insurance Co. executive, and settled in a home not far from the school.
Mrs. Welbourn joined St. Thomas Episcopal Church in 1944 at a time when “women were not encouraged to take on leadership roles within the church,” her son wrote. “She shared her lifelong spiritual passion to serve others within the church without being officially ordained.”
From 1975 to 1980, she worked at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah on Harford Road in Hamilton, where she was assistant to the rector and helped plan services, manage his calendar and direct the Sunday school program. She also worked with the church outreach committee
Additionally, she was a consultant to the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, helping churches that were between ministers create parish profiles to help match parishes to available ministerial candidates.
Mrs. Welbourn was instrumental in guiding and mentoring several women friends into the Episcopal ministry.
She also served on the St. Thomas vestry, sang in the church choir and taught Sunday school.
“Being involved in education and adult education at the church were major issues for her,” Dr. Ellis said.
“Plus, she knew everybody in the church,” he said. “If I needed to know something about a person, I just went to Nancy. She was an absolute joy to be with.”
Paul B. Corbin of Owings Mills was the former head of the vestry and said he had known Mrs. Welbourn for more than 30 years.
“She was devoted to St. Thomas, and she really cared about people.” Mr. Corbin said. “She was outgoing, welcoming to outsiders, and she helped bring new people into the church.”
Mrs. Welbourn was such a fixture at the church that she sat in the same pew every Sunday, Mr. Corbin said.
He said he had been the recipient of her kindness and thoughtfulness when he had both knees replaced three years ago and was recuperating from the surgery.
“She wrote me a lengthy get-well note — and did it twice. That’s the kind of person she was,” he said.
“Nancy was a kind and caring person, and she had a kind and generous spirit. She cared about everybody,” said Barbara J. Parks, an Owings Mills resident and parish administrator.
Ms. Parks said that even after Mrs. Welbourn moved to the retirement community, “she kept in touch by email and often wrote, ‘I wish I could be there.’ ”
In addition to raising her three children, she raised three other teenagers who came to live with her family, her son said.
She enjoyed raising vegetables and flowers at Rabbit Hill, her home.
Mrs. Welbourn had lived at Blakehurst since 2000. She was a member of the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club and Green Spring Valley Garden Club.
She and her husband, who died in 2013, wintered at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla., where she was also active in community affairs.
She served as secretary for Habitat for Humanity of South Florida, and also tutored middle-school students at Key Largo School. That school presented her with its Volunteer Teacher Award in 2005.
“Nancy was a real sweetheart right to the end,” Ms. Parks said.
A memorial service will be held at her church, 232 St. Thomas Lane, at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
In addition to her son, she is survived by two daughters, Lucy W. Johnson of Charlottesville, Va., and Nancy W. Edds of Fargo, N.D.; eight grandchildren; and nine greatgrandchildren. Nancy P. Welbourn served as a consultant to the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.