Nancy West Speaks, born on July 24, 1940 in Camden, SC, passed peacefully into the presence of her Savior, surrounded by her children, on March 28, 2020 in her home in Camden.
Nancy grew up in a large family on a farm in Cassatt, working both in the fields and the family store. She played on 1955 Undefeated Girls’ State Championship Basketball team at Midway High School. After graduating from high school in 1958, Nancy moved to Athens, GA, where she received an associate’s degree in radiology. After serving at various hospitals throughout South Carolina, Nancy returned to Camden where she worked in the radiology department at Kershaw County Memorial Hospital.
Nancy married John Robert Speaks, also of Camden, on July 5, 1963. In 1964, Nancy undertook the harrowing task of bearing and rearing her four boys and her daughter. She supported her children in their numerous activities, including plays, pageants, concerts, recitals, and sporting events, especially football. Over the course of her children’s careers, she attended over 400 football games, watching all four boys play at various levels and her daughter cheering. For some odd reason, she also logged numerous hours in the hospital emergency room.
During those years at home with her children, it is estimated that Nancy fried over 600 chickens, and with the size of her family, both numerically and physically, she didn’t just cook in regular sized pots; she cooked in cauldrons. She could say I love you without saying a word, and she turned a house into a wonderful home. Yet, she was able to impose order in the chaos. She sent children to their rooms 738 times, and she believed that sparing the rod did spoil the child. Later, to take a breather, she went back to Kershaw County Memorial to serve once again in radiology.
Nancy loved her boys, her girl, and her man. She was a devoted wife to John Speaks for 48 years. She also loved her grandchildren; she was blessed with 15.
She was a longtime member of First Baptist Church of Camden, often expressing how much she loved and appreciated her Sunday school class.
Nancy constantly gave herself to care for the needs of others, but there were a few pleasures she enjoyed. She loved to travel, but her most cherished destination was Edisto Island, spending at least one week each year for 50 years enjoying the sun and surf with her family. Family history was a passion for her, displaying at times an encyclopedic knowledge of extended family. Though she sometimes seemed private, she was deeply connected to people who had been fortunate enough to share in some part of her life, staying connected through letters and cards, remembering major life events.
After a yearlong, valiant struggle with cancer, she passed peacefully in her home, surrounded by a houseful of children and grandchildren.
Nancy was predeceased by her husband, John R. Speaks of Camden. She is survived by her children, John Robert Speaks, Jr. (Amy; children, Fraser, Tripp, and Maggie,) of Camden; Christopher Glenn Speaks (Jan; children, Ansley, Drew, Samantha, and Hannah) of Greenville; Michael Keith Speaks (Kristi; children, Claire and Wyatt) of Greenville; Stephen Humphries Speaks (Rebekah; children, Kathryn, Connor, and Paul) of Lecanto, FL; and Staci Speaks Long (Walter; children, Leila, Lizzie, and Mac) of Camden; three siblings, Becky Rush of Camden; Alex West of Cassatt; and John West of Camden. Nancy was predeceased by her parents, Maurice “Brother” West and Leila Christmas West; and by two brothers, Henry West of Anderson, and Caston West of Camden.
There will be a private family burial. A memorial service to celebrate Nancy’s life will be held at a later date.
Memorials may be sent to the First Baptist Church of Camden Building fund by visiting online www.firstbaptistcamden.org/home, or to Community Medical Clinic of Kershaw County at online at www.cmcofkc.org.
Kornegay Funeral Home, Camden Chapel, is in charge of arrangements.
On March 7, 2022, Nancy Speaks was mentioned as the deceased sister-in-law in the obituary of Howard Franklin Speaks.