Nanci Kay Effler, 53, an accomplished painter and horseback rider who drew inspiration from her rides and walks through area Metroparks, died Friday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio on South Detroit Avenue.
The death followed a battle with colon cancer, family members said.
Born Nanci Kay Watson, she showed promise as a young girl in both her artistic and equestrian pursuits while growing up in West Toledo. She continued to follow these passions into adulthood, all while raising a family of seven children in Ottawa Hills.
"She pursued her passions with such elegance and class," recalled Amy Buckley, a neighbor and family friend.
When it came to family, Mrs. Effler was the consummate mother, said her husband, David Effler.
"The most crucial thing for her was family," Mr. Effler said. "She spent 29 years raising our family, and she was phenomenal at that."
In addition to working with watercolors and oil paints, Mrs. Effler painted furniture and birdhouses for neighbors in Ottawa Hills, along with the occasional wall mural for her children's elementary classes. She began taking art lessons again about seven years ago, and last year was elected to the distinguished Athena Art Society for area female artists, her husband said.
Mrs. Effler's recent paintings involved still lifes, nature scenes, and animals in northwest Ohio, such as deer and ducks.
In recent years, she went riding several times a week along trails in the Oak Openings Preserve Metropark.
Rita Visser, one of her recent art instructors, said Mrs. Effler often carried a camera while on horseback to photograph the wildlife she encountered. She based many of her paintings on these photographs, as well as on what she saw while strolling on foot through Wildwood Preserve Metropark.
Of Mrs. Effler's abilities, Ms. Visser said: "She just grew and blossomed, and I feel became a very, very excellent artist."
Mrs. Effler was a 1971 graduate of St. Ursula Academy, and in 1974 received a degree in medical technology from the University of Toledo. The following year she married David Effler, and was briefly employed as a medical technician at the Toledo Clinic before the couple started their family.
Surviving are her husband, David Effler; sons, David Jr., Richard, Timothy, Daniel, and Andrew Effler; daughters, Devon and Kelly Effler; father, Richard Watson; mother, Kathleen Watson; brother, Rick Watson, and sisters Kathi France and Beth Gunnett.
Visitation will be after 4 p.m. today and after 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Walker Funeral Home, 5155 Sylvania Ave. The funeral will begin at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Gesu Church, 2049 Parkside Blvd.
The family suggests tributes to the Nanci Kay Effler Scholarship Fund of Ottawa Hills Schools.