In Memory of




Obituary for Nancy Eileen Ferris

Nancy Eileen Ferris passed away at the age of 84 on September 6, 2023 after many years struggling with Dementia.

She was born in Visalia, California on March 26, 1939, the youngest of 3 girls to Richard Jelinek Smith and Esther Mae VanNortwick, whose families had migrated to California from New York City, stopping first in the Midwest, where they took up a homestead in Nebraska, farmed and raised families for decades.

She is survived by 1 sister, 1 half-brother, 2 children, several grandchildren, nieces & nephews and their families. She is preceded in death by her loving parents and 1 older sister.

The family moved around the Western United States as her father worked for the National Park System and held jobs in such places as Sequoia and Yellowstone National Park. This is where Nancy developed her love of the outdoors: hiking in the forests, looking for snakes, enjoying the birds & animals, wading in streams, shooting a gun. Eventually, they settled in Lytle Creek, California, located at the base of the San Bernardino mountains. She graduated from San Bernardino High School in 1957. Nancy was interested in office work, was quite organized and excelled in Shorthand! Her first job was at Kaiser Steel Mill in Fontana, California as a Secretary. It is there where she met her husband whom she married shortly after in Las Vegas. They bought their first house in Ontario, California and raised 2 children, Kathryn and Kenneth. While living in San Bernardino County, they joined a local Sorority group and made life-long friends. They traveled every summer for family vacation, visiting the National Parks in the western parts of the U.S.A. and Canada, a nod to her father's chosen career.

After raising her children, and moving out on her own, Nancy settled in Irvine, California in Orange County where she bought her Woodbridge condo in 1983 and enjoyed the single life of working hard all week then dancing, hiking, and heading to the beach with friends on the weekends. She signed up for her first tennis lesson and loved it so much she joined the Woodbridge Tennis Club--she was hooked! She elevated to Administrative Assistant for the remaining of her working career, last of which was for a large OC Real Estate firm. She joined Women's Sage and made many like-minded, independent, financially-savvy friends.

She met her partner Pete Whalon 15 years ago and they had a lasting relationship that continued through the years she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease/Dementia. He was devoted to her, holding her hand, playing her favorite music during her final moments.

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to Nancy but let's find comfort knowing she is probably serving up an Ace on the tennis court followed by dancing “All Night Long” in the next life