Official Obituary of

Nancy (Watts) Hartz

August 6, 1930 ~ March 1, 2024 (age 93) 93 Years Old

Nancy Hartz Obituary

Nancy Watts Hartz, 93, of Onancock, VA, passed away peacefully Friday, March 1, 2024. Born August 6, 1930, she was the daughter of Edwin “Jake” Watts and Madeline Riley Watts. Nancy was raised in Onancock, first in a series of rental houses on Onancock Creek, and later at the family farmhouse, adjacent to what is now Commonwealth Senior Living. As a child, she enjoyed driving her goat cart down the streets, playing with friends, and paddling her little rowboat on the creek. As a teenager who started driving at 14, she and her friends made the peninsula their playground, swimming at Silver Beach and honky-tonking when none of the parents were looking. She loved to listen to the music, dance, and have a good time. She was a graduate of Onancock High School where she was on the basketball team and made many lifelong friendships. She went to Longwood State Teachers College (now Longwood University), for two years before starting work as a secretary in Richmond, VA. It was there that she met her first husband, John “Jack” Sprague. They married in 1954 and started their married life in Baltimore, MD. Shortly after they married, Jack got a job with IBM, which took the family all around the country as he advanced through the company. They lived in Reading and Media, PA, Bloomfield Hills, MI, Indianapolis, IN, Seattle, WA, Barrington, IL, Austin, TX, and Potomac, MD. Nancy especially loved Seattle and Austin while always missing Onancock, where she felt like she knew everybody. It was Nancy‘s role to manage the frequent changes and raise their three children, Mary, Ann, and Martha, in spite of the disruption of moving every eight months to five years. She handled this beautifully, embracing the organizational challenges, and decorating each new house quickly, so that the family always had a place that felt like home. Each time they moved, Nancy would find a church to which she felt a kinship, and get involved in doing service. Whether she was helping to redecorate the sanctuary, or as she did in Austin, helping a Vietnamese refugee family navigate life in the U.S., she was always giving back to her community and living the principles that she was raised with. As a mother, she supported her children by going to bat for them so they could have formative experiences. She advocated often for Mary, a very shy child as a result of many moves at a young age. For Ann, it was making sure that she had horses in her life. For Martha, she supported her love of volleyball, which led to her continued participation in college.

While living in Potomac, Nancy brought her father, Jake Watts, to live with them. She was a loving and conscientious daughter and he became an important part of their lives in Maryland. The two of them would “ride out” almost every day to have lunch or simply drive the back roads together. After she and Jack divorced, she decided to relocate to Annapolis, MD, where she pursued a degree in interior design. From Annapolis, she relocated to Kilmarnock, VA, where she opened her own interior design shop. The design business lasted about five years when she decided she wanted to be back in Onancock again, where she remodeled a Victorian house on Market Street and created 76 Market Street Bed and Breakfast. She loved the proprietor’s life. One of her favorite things was to make a few comments to the strangers sitting around the breakfast table about things they had in common to inspire them to get to know each other, only to see those comments turn into a wonderful connection between people. She left the life of running a bed-and-breakfast to marry Frank M. Hartz, Jr. and move to Richmond with him. After he passed away in 2003, she moved back to Onancock for the final time.

She was a true Leo, inside and out, with a great appreciation for the finer things in life. She was a social person and always relished bringing people together and seeing them enjoy themselves. Over the years, she loved antiquing, entertaining, traveling, visiting with family, flirting with handsome men, and decorating her houses.

Unfortunately, dementia started its gradual creep while Nancy was in her 70s, which complicated her waning years. She ultimately decided to move into the Hermitage, which later became Commonwealth Senior Living, where all the staff took great, loving care of her. She was happy there, and felt like she was safe, as the Hermitage had been built partially on land that had been owned by her father and mother, and both her father and her aunt had been residents there. To the end, she was in great hands there with people who treated her kindly, which gave her children great comfort during the COVID years.

Nancy was predeceased by her parents, Edwin “Jake” Watts and Madeline Watts; her brother, John David Watts; and her second husband, Frank Hartz. She is survived by her three daughters, Mary Lareau (David) of Oakton, VA, Ann Warren of Harbeson, DE, and Martha Janney (Joseph) of Annapolis, MD; her grandchildren, Madeline Lareau of Alexandria, VA, and Carter Janney of Annapolis, MD; and her nephews, Ralph “Ed” Watts and David Watts, both of Machipongo, VA.

A Celebration of Life service will be held Friday, March 8, 2024, at 1:30 p.m., at Commonwealth Senior Living.

Memory tributes may be shared with the family at www.williamsfuneralhomes.com.

Arrangements by the Williams-Onancock Funeral Home.

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Celebration of Life
March 8, 2024

1:30 PM
Commonwealth Senior Living
23610 North Street
Onancock, VA 23417


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