Nancy Jean VanDyke, 73

by | February 28, 2017 4:22 pm

Last Updated: March 1, 2017 at 11:50 am

Funeral services for Nancy Jean VanDyke, 73, of Twin City were held Monday, Feb. 27, 2017 at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Swainsboro with the Rev. Sonia Sullivan-Clifton officiating. She died Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 at her home, as was her wish, after suffering from pancreatic cancer diagnosed in November.

Mrs. Nancy Jean VanDyke was born in Worcester, Mass. on June 29, 1943, and was a high-achieving student throughout all of her years of school. She contracted polio when she was 11-years-old. After a year of rehabilitation, she regained the use of both legs and was able to continue with school. As a result of that devastating experience, VanDyke made a decision to dedicate her life to helping others. She attended Simmons College in Boston on a full scholarship and earned her B.S. degree in physical therapy. During that time, she had an opportunity to march with Dr. Martin Luther King, and that was one of her most cherished memories. Upon graduation, she married the late Jack Hayes and moved to upstate New York, then to Aiken, S.C., where she worked at Hitchcock Rehabilitation Center and specialized in the treatment of children with Central Nervous System disorders.

Following a divorce, VanDyke moved with their two children to Atlanta in order to pursue an M.S. in health services management at Georgia State University. During that time, she worked for a rehab center in DeKalb County and for the Visiting Nurse Association. After graduation, VanDyke spent 13 years in the Gwinnett Hospital System as Director of Rehabilitation Services, supervising 75 employees and opening the then-new Sports Medicine Rehabilitation Center there. In 1984, she was diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome (PPS), and following a long, slow process of increasing muscle weakness and pain, VanDyke had to retire on disability in 1997. In 2000, she moved to beloved farm property in Twin City with her life partner of 34 years, now spouse, Judy McVey.

She was active in her church life in Atlanta, and was a founding member of two churches and served as treasurer and board member for several others. She became a certified spiritual director through the Diocese of Atlanta (Episcopal), and after moving to Emanuel County, she became an active member of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church of Swainsboro. She was a founding member and first co-coordinator for Integrity Georgia through the Diocese of Georgia and was a graduate of the Education for Ministry (EfM) program offered through the University of the South. VanDyke did spiritual direction for several years before her disability severely limited her activities. She was also a lifetime member and held leadership positions for years in the American Physical Therapy Association and was on the first Board of Directors for the Atlanta Post-Polio Association.

Survivors include her spouse, Judy McVey of Twin City; one son, Jonathan (Sadie Downen) Hayes of Lawrenceville; one daughter, Dianne Hayes (Bill) Doss of Alpharetta; two grandchildren, Dan Doss and Jenny Doss of Alpharetta; one brother, Richard (JoAnn) VanDyke of Millbury, Mass.; and cousins and extended family members. She is deeply missed by many beloved friends from college, her professional life, her church life, and her many friends from the east Georgia area.

In lieu of flowers, VanDyke requested that memorial contributions be sent to Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, PO Box 74, Swainsboro, Georgia 30471.

Tomlinson Funeral Home of Swainsboro was in charge of the arrangements.

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