Historian made her mark

Times file photo In this 2003 file picture, Nancy Hoy, left, talks about a proposal to create a shelter for the Start Westward monument in East Muskingum Park as Allen Norris and Frances Parlin listen. Hoy, a dedicated historian and volunteer who helped chronicle the history of Washington County and Marietta, died Oct. 4 at the age of 85.

The evidence of Nancy Hoy’s work can be seen up and down Front Street and throughout the older parts of Marietta, along the Muskingum River and in all the counties of Ohio.

A dedicated and thorough historian, Hoy died Oct. 4 at age 85. She spent decades helping Marietta residents and property owners get houses and buildings on the state historical register, mapped and documented the history of the locks and dams on the Muskingum River, and spent countless days on the road photographing and documenting the historic courthouse buildings in all 88 Ohio counties.

Bill Reynolds, historian at the Campus Martius Museum, remembers her fondly.

“She was a very good friend, a volunteer here who accomplished quite a number of things. She created the historic districts starting 30 years ago and identified quite a number of houses for the historic register,” he said Wednesday. “Our grant from the Ohio Historical Society to do a historic survey for Washington County, Nancy really put the biggest effort into that and finished it, and we can be very thankful to her. Those areas where money can be leveraged through the historic preservation office, that’s her legacy.”

“And she was a wonderful person to be around, an absolute treasure,” he said. “We should all have such a legacy.”

Hoy was born Nancy Borden on May 4, 1933 in Erie, Pa., to Robert Oswald and Lucille Bauschard Borden. She graduated from Hood College in Frederick, Md., with a Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics and later completed masters studies in liberal arts at Marietta College.

She married James. D. Hoy, a doctor of optometry, in 1957. The couple moved to Marietta in 1966.

She practiced as a dietician, but history was her first love, her daughter Sarah Gottlieb said.

“When she got her masters in liberal arts, around 1977, she was in her 40s, that’s when she really solidified. She taught classes at Marietta College, conducted walking tours, helped get businesses on the historic register,” said Gottlieb, who lives in Charleston, W.Va.. Hoy worked with a local architectural firm to do underground site scans of prospective development sites, often finding unexpected features like subterranean oil or gasoline tanks, and she spent a lot of time analyzing maps at the county courthouse, becoming the city’s premier expert in the history of properties.

It wasn’t all work for the Hoy family, Gottlieb said.

“She took all types of work that let her work around the family. We had family dinners every night. Her first profession was a dietician, and she served us colorful plates of food before that was the thing to do,” she said. “We belonged to a gourmet club, and people from different countries, like Spain and the Phillippines, would come for dinner. Mom dressed up for those occasions – she always looked very pulled together – and would wear things like a long skirt and get out the best china.”

Hoy had a love of learning and an adventurous spirit that she passed on to her children.

“She loved to travel. Mom was completely unafraid, she would take us wherever, her thinking was that travel was its own education,” she said. “I’ve been unafraid since then, she gave me a sense of, just try it, what the worst that can happen – you might get lost.”

Part of the family travels was Hoy’s project to document all the historic county courthouse buildings in Ohio, all 88 of them.

“She wouldn’t do anything halfway,” Gottlieb recalled. “She did every lock and dam up and down the Muskingum River, and she catalogued every building on Front Street, from the Lafayette Hotel past Buckeley House, along with many of the buildings on Second and Third streets.”

Hoy will join her husband, who died in 2017, in one of last plots in Mound Cemetery, Gottlieb said.

“She did classes on local cemeteries, too, who was buried where and what their historical importance was,” she said.

A memorial service will be held Saturday at 11 a.m in the First Unitarian Church at 232 Third St., one of the buildings she helped put on the historic register.

Rev. Kathryn Hawbaker will preside over the memorial and Gottlieb will be one of the speakers.

“She was just a joy to be around, pleasant and gracious,” Hawbaker said. “Before I even met her as part of the congregation, she became involved in helping our church get on the national historic register. Her work was really significant to our devotion and dedication to maintaining the building.”

The church was built in 1855.

“She and her husband, Jim, were really devoted to each other, and they were a blessing to me personally and to the congregation,” Hawbaker said.