Meet Nancy Campbell Mead, retired judge and proud Women’s Foundation member living in Depoe Bay on the Oregon coast.
Name: Nancy Campbell Mead
Occupation: Retired Circuit Court Judge – Washington County
Member of the Women's Foundation since: January 2016
What’s your favorite spot in Oregon?
Truthfully, right where I live, overlooking the ocean on the beautiful Oregon Coast, I feel so lucky!
What quality do you most admire in others?
The first one that comes to my mind is “empathy.” I think the ability to put yourself into somebody else’s shoes, feel where that person is coming from, then act accordingly is a great gift. If we all had more empathy the world would be a better place.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I would love to be able to paint. We have wonderful artists on the coast, and taking a painting class from one of them is a “bucket list” item that I’d love to do!
What was your first volunteer experience?
When I was in high school I volunteered in a summer program for kids with Downs Syndrome. I loved the experience, and afterwards I considered becoming a special education teacher.
What’s the best place to eat in our great state?
My favorite restaurants near our home are Tidal Raves in Depoe Bay, Side Door in Gleneden Beach, Tables of Content Restaurant at the Sylvia Beach Hotel and Saffron Salmon on the Bayfront - both in Newport.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Riding my bike across the United States from Bandon, Oregon to Yorktown, Virginia when I was 64 years old – a great way to see the country and meet people from all walks of life. Prior to training for the ride (I trained hard for about 6 months), I had ridden very little (only about 100 miles a year); being able to ride 60 to 100 miles each day and over mountain passes was a big accomplishment for me.
Which woman (living or dead) do you most admire?
My mother. She was the first feminist I knew and a terrific role model. She was born in 1903 on a farm in rural Kentucky - and was truly exceptional, especially given the difficult path life handed her. Because of her I've never missed voting in an election, I went to Law School in an era when that was uncommon for women, and I am a longtime member of many women's organizations, both local and national.
My mother's father was an alcoholic who would disappear on “binges” for months at a time; my mother supported her and her brother by cleaning houses and sewing. My mother was very bright and determined to get an education, and at least graduate from high school. Against the odds, she did graduate and had several secretarial jobs following graduation, improving her position with each new job. Eventually she went to work at the Frontier Nursing Service in the coal mining region of Kentucky. The founder of the nursing service recognized my mother’s talents and paid for her to attend the University of Chicago for two years. She wanted to pay for my mother to complete her education at the Sorbonne in Paris but my mother turned her down because she didn’t want to feel obligated and tied to the Frontier Nursing Service for several more years.
She eventually ended up in San Francisco where she met my father. She had excellent jobs “for a woman” until she had my brother (who died before I was born of a childhood cancer). After I was born she stayed home, because that was what women did. She insisted on returning to work when I was around 10 (my father was not pleased) and continued working until she retired.
There are three things that really stuck with me about my mother. One was that she always voted; always. She remembered when women got the right to vote and never took it for granted. Another was that she stood up to my father and insisted that working outside of the home was the right thing for her to do, despite what society or my father felt about it. The third was that she was disappointed because she hadn’t finished college and couldn’t join AAUW (for many years a four year degree was required for membership; that is no longer true). Because of my mother, I don’t think I have ever missed voting in an election; when I wanted to go to law school after having children I didn’t think that was something I couldn’t or shouldn’t do even though there were certainly those who thought otherwise; and, even though I am more active in NOW (I serve on both the national and Oregon boards) I belong to AAUW for my mother. My mother was probably the first feminist I knew and she was a terrific role model.
What’s your most treasured possession?
Photos of my kids and granddaughters.
What’s your idea of perfect happiness?
Being all together with my kids and my granddaughters. They live in New York and Colorado, so though we all see each other throughout the year, it never seems to happen that we're all together at once.
What makes you laugh uncontrollably?
Our Labradoodle who is 3 years old. He has lots of annoying habits that are also very funny. I really can’t get mad at him, so I laugh.
Why are you a member of the Women’s Foundation?
I am helping the Foundation with the Oregon coast portion of the upcoming Listening Tour. I am executive director of the newly formed Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women Foundation, and have been thrilled about what we are able to do for women and girls locally. Learning that there is a similar statewide foundation really excited me - and I was delighted to join!