January 3, 2010

In Memoriam: Nancy Briskay Cornell Lipsius



The Rev. Monte W. Holland

My mother, Nancy Briskay Cornell Lipsius passd on in Augusta, Maine on January 3, 1998, in the midst of an ice storm that struck the northeastern part of the United States.

On January 10, 1998, she had a memorial service at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Buffalo, N.Y. Below are the thoughts my husband, The Rev. Monte W. Holland, shared about his mother-in-law during the service.

Proverbs 31:28-31  Her children rise up and call her happy; her husband too, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her a share in the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the city gates. These words come from the Biblical subsection entitled “ode to a capable wife.”

Nancy did excellently in many ways. She lived the life of reverence for the Lord. I didn’t have the opportunity to see her at work or among the people of Presque Isle, where she lived and worked these past fifteen years, but I saw the comments of her pastor and saw some of her areas of service there. It certainly appears that her works will be praised at those city gates.

The picture that each of us paints of a person’s life will differ, because we each have our own subsections of interfacing with that person’s life.

Unless I have the misfortune to have to marry again, Nancy will be the only mother-in-law’s life that I will be called upon to speak about. That makes my perspective different than anyone else’s. I never really entered into the typical mother-in-law – son-in-law relationship (at least the one that everyone jokes about). We only lived close to each other for three short years after Carolyn and I were married. Those were busy times for both of our families, and we didn’t see that much of each other. Nancy had five children at home and was working full time for Dr. Massotti. Carolyn was finishing up college at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

I was partly to blame for the limited contact because Carolyn and I chose to attend my church, keeping us apart at worship time. We then moved to Pennsylvania, making contact her that much less frequent.

Even with our limited contact I came to know her over time. I heard from Carolyn about their early years in Portsmouth (N. H.), and later in Buffalo. We used to vacation in New England, where we were able to see glimpses of Nancy’s life before Lee (Carolyn’s older sister) and Carolyn came along. I vividly remember two things from our visits to Grandpa (Albert A. C.) Briskay and his second wife, Blanche, in Eliot, Maine. There was a picture of Nancy in her teens that hung in their house (to view photo click on ). The young lady in a dancing pose told me that Nancy loved to dance, and even had dreams of becoming a dancer in her youth. It seems that her circumstances weren’t such that she could follow that dream very far. She didn’t feel that her mother gave her enough room to develop the creative side of her life.

And there was Grandpa’s stubborness and doggedness, his hanging to a point of view that he had. Nancy was like him in that stubbornness and doggedness, in sticking to a point. It didn’t particularly bother me, but I soon learned that she was that way, at least with me. That is the Nancy that I knew

That stick-to-it-iveness paid off in many ways. I was proud of her when she went to college in Maine and did very well, earning a bachelor’s degree in her early 70s. She even had dreams of doing a master’s degree, and continued to study in the area of theology. A sign that she kept at things was her learning to drive after she went to Maine.

She put real energy into what she did. I’m proud of her because she always worked. She valued hard work and put a lot of effort into her church here in Buffalo. It seems that she even broadened the range of services that she did after she moved to Presque Isle, Maine. And she did these things as a servant of her God.

I have some personal thanks to give for her. I thank her and Bob Cornell for Carolyn. Even though that was a short-lived marriage of youth, it led to my having two fine women (both Carolyn and Lee) in my life. I thank her greatly for that.

In her life Nancy saw her share of heartache–the failed marriage, the loss of a stepson, Michael Lipsius, in Vietnam (whom she barely knew or didn’t get to know at all). There were the turmoils that come to every family. And there was the serious illness of her husband, Hugh, that she dealt with very heroically.     

Probably one of the best times I had with her few of you know about. In 1984 we were in Atlanta while I was in seminary. The kids and I used to do a lot of traveling around Atlanta on the rapid transit because that was the only way we could afford to go. Carolyn was good at that kind of traveling.

Nancy came to visit for about a week. It was during spring break. With the kids in school she and I spent a good bit of the time touring around Atlanta, seeing the sights. I hope she remembered those times together as fondly as I do. That was a quality time of getting to know each other.

Nancy has been a blessing in many persons’ lives. I know that she was a trusted friend to many people in the Buffalo community. She was blessed with many children who have reached adulthood and given her many grandchildren, even great-grandchildren. Her sharp mind and diligence in living and her service of God are high ideals, a legacy she leaves for those of us who count her as part our family trees. Living up to these high standards are a fitting tribute that we must strive to give back to her as we continue to live as servants of our God.



MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY: Nancy Briskay Cornell Lipsius


The Isles of Shoals: Beauty, Mystery, Intrigue

Grandparents, homemade cookies, & licking cream off milkcaps

Two Photographers Named Cornell

Three Women Wildly Battle With UNO Cards


1 Comment »

  1. Monte shared his thoughts so eloquently. He always has had that talent. I’m afraid that what I would have had to say would not have been so welcome!
    Thanks for posting this!
    Little sister Jane

    Comment by Jane Driver — January 4, 2010 @ 8:31 pm | Reply

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