Nancy was born on September 16, 1923 in Orange, CT, the daughter of the late Hazel Carmichael Monks and the late Stiles Dennison Woodruff and was raised on the S.D. Woodruff and Sons Seed Company farm in Orange, CT.
Nancy’s ancestors originally settled in Farmington, CT in 1640, later becoming one of the original settled families in Milford / Orange in 1668. The S.D. Woodruff and Sons Seed Company being founded in 1865 by Nancy’s great grandfather with her grandfather opening the New York City branch, the company later becoming Asgrow, a present-day subsidiary of Monsanto.
After graduating from Hillhouse High School, Nancy followed in her mother’s footsteps by attending Wheaton College, a women’s college in Norton, Mass., earning her Bachelor’s degree of Entomology in 1945. Nancy was later accepted into the John Hopkins Medical School, though choose to pursue a career with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, authoring several articles on the effects of insecticides on Connecticut crops which were selected for publication by the Journal of Economic Entomology.
Nancy remained active with Wheaton, serving a number of years on the Executive Board of the Alumni Association and receiving the Alumni Achievement Award in 2004.
Nancy later married the late Gardner E. Wheeler, Jr. in 1951, settling in Branford, Connecticut in the first house to be built on Sunset Hill. They would share their lives together for 48 years.
With her husband Gardner an active member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary XVII for fifty-nine years, Nancy supported as the Woman’s Seaman’s Friend Society of Connecticut’s president from 2003 through 2009 and an honorary trustee of the non-profit organization until her passing.
An integral part of her identity, Nancy remained active in the church through her life. She was the Treasurer of the First Congregational Church of Branford for 5 years, on the Stewardship Committee, and held several other positions.
Nancy volunteered as Senior Trustee and Chairman for over 60 years to the nondenominational Pine Orchard Union Chapel, coordinating and planning the 4th of July annual parades and weddings. She also helped develop and run Summer programs of creative arts camps and swimming programs, which her four children attended every summer. Nancy led the preservation effort that resulted in the chapel’s listing in the U.S. National Register of Historical Places in 2000.
Nancy is a long-time member of the New Haven Lawn Club, and a former Junior West End and Junior league member.
Nancy is survived by her children: Peter Wheeler and wife Mary Jane Engle (Clinton, CT), Wendy Carmichael Wheeler and husband Shawn Reilly (Stony Creek, CT), Sarah Wheeler Monyette and husband Mark (Suwanee, GA), Amy Wheeler Palella and husband Charles (Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ); grandchildren: Jonathan Wheeler & Erin Wheeler Staab; Sean & Sarah Reilly; Alain, Russell & Seth Monyette; Charles, Andrew & Lisette Palella and great-grandchildren: Jackson and Cooper Staab.
Nancy and her late brother, Stiles Dennison Woodruff, are survived by their brother, John Ormsby Monks and his wife Linda Francis.
There will be a memorial service at the First Congregational Church of Branford 1:00 pm Saturday, September 15. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in her honor to the Pine Orchard Union Chapel or First Congregational Church of Branford.
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