Nancy Gassert, born July 8, 1945, died Aug. 15, 2019, at Kanas Center for Hospice Care in Quiogue.Nancy was a longtime resident of Riverhead and a pillar of the community.
Nancy was born in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the daughter of Edward and Mildred O’Rourke. She was a sister to three brothers, Billy, Bobby and Happy.
Nancy grew up in Baldwin, N.Y., and later graduated from Baldwin High School in 1963.
Nancy and her family moved to Hampton Bays, where she worked for the health and beauty department of Hills Supermarket. Nancy went on to become the first female supervisor for the Hills franchise.
Nancy, among many other accolades, was a tremendous bowler. She played in bowling leagues and became a member of the 200 club.
It was at Wildwood Lanes where Nancy met her future husband, Howard Gassert. Howard bartended at the bowling alley and the two of them connected after Nancy was consoled by Howard at the bar. Howard and Nancy went on to get married June 23, 1974, in Westhampton at a family home. Nancy carried a bouquet of daisies, wearing a dress that she had made herself. It poured that day but the rain didn’t inconvenience any of the attendees. Nancy and Howie just celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary.
Nancy and Howie lived in their home in Riverhead for most of those 45 years. In June of 1977, Nancy gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Karen after her late niece. Then two years later Nancy gave birth to her second child, a son named Howard.
Nancy, being a devoted mother, stayed at home with her children. She made homemade Halloween costumes and tended to her expansive garden in the backyard. Once her children entered school she began to participate in the school’s parent teacher organization. This is when Nancy began to realize her calling.
Nancy eventually opened her own home and business cleaning service called Cottages to Castles. But she never lost the passion she felt for making not only her children’s school-age years memorable and productive, but all children’s.
She went on to become a member of the PTO counsel and soon after ran for the Riverhead Central School District school board. She spent many years as a member and was eventually elected to be school board president. This was a position that few can uphold due to the thankless time and energy that is put into it, but Nancy put her heart and soul into that position. She loved it.
Nancy was also a huge fan of Riverhead athletics. Nancy never missed a game, whether it was football, basketball or a cheerleading competition. Nancy was a Blue Wave through and through.
Nancy was so fond of the children who her own children went to school with that she would open her home every weekend to them, providing a safe place to hang out and socialize. Friday nights became known as homemade pizza and lemonade night. There might have been upwards of 15 to 20 kids hanging out and playing basketball on any given weekend. Homecoming was an extra-special time because each year the Class of 1995 would descend on the Gassert’s garage and begin construction of the homecoming float.
Nancy had kept in touch with many of the kids from that group who spent so much time at her house. Many consider Nancy to be a “second mom” to them. Those kids are all grown up now, some with kids of their own, including her own children.
Howard is currently working at Westhampton Country Club and will be pursuing a job with a large company in September. Karen is a kindergarten teacher at Aquebogue Elementary School in the Riverhead Central School District. She lives in Baiting Hollow with her two daughters, Evelyn and Adelaide.
Nancy’s greatest joy in her life has definitely been becoming a grandmother. There was never a grandmother who loved her grandchildren more than Nancy did. Nancy took care of her grandchildren when her daughter went back to work after her maternity leave. Nancy never passed up an opportunity to see her grandchildren. She went to every event that they participated in. Her grandchildren will most likely miss her the most.
Nancy had suffered many health challenges over the years. Her longtime battle with Lyme disease had caused extensive damage to her body physically and neurologically. On Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, Nancy suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, which left her incapacitated. She spent four days at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore and was eventually transferred to the Kanas Center for Hospice Care on Aug. 9. She passed peacefully in the early morning of Aug. 15.
Nancy is survived by her husband, Howard Gassert; her son, Howard; her daughter, Karen; and her two loving granddaughters, Evelyn, age 10, and Adelaide, age 5.
The family received family and friends Aug. 19 at McLaughlin Heppner Funeral Home in Riverhead. A memorial service was held the following day at Baiting Hollow Congregational Church, where she had attended church every Sunday. She was laid to rest following the service at the church cemetery.
This is a paid notice.