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Published: Sunday, 2/23/2014

Nancy Flagg Kern Secor; 1930-2014: Teacher a pioneer in court program

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Nancy Flagg Kern Secor, who brought the competitive drive of her tennis game to teaching and advocacy for children, died Feb. 16, the day before her 84th birthday, in Sterling House, Bowling Green, where she lived 2½ years.

She had dementia, her daughter, Mariann said.

Mrs. Secor, formerly of Ottawa Hills, Perrysburg, and Sylvania, was the widow of James J. Secor, Jr. They’d been married about 25 years at his death in 1999.

Mr. Secor’s grandfather, James Secor, arrived in Toledo in 1854 and became a prominent banker.

Mrs. Secor retired in 1985 from Ottawa Hills Elementary School, where for 15 years she worked with children who had learning disabilities. She encouraged students as she taught them with, “You can do this” and “You will find a way,” her daughter said.

Afterward, Mrs. Secor became a volunteer for Lucas County juvenile court as a court appointed special advocate, or CASA, to represent the best interests of a child in abuse and neglect cases. By the late 1980s, she and her husband had moved to a farmhouse near Pemberville that had been owned by his aunt, Virginia “Diddy” Secor Stranahan.

“When I was [Wood County] juvenile court judge, and I was setting up the CASA program, she was a volunteer,” said Robert Pollex, now a Common Pleas Court judge. “She was very active and instrumental in getting the program started, recruiting and training volunteers.

“Nancy was a very determined person,” Judge Pollex said. “Even if it was difficult to do, she wouldn’t say no. Whether she could win or not, she gave it her all.”

Mrs. Secor was athletic and mastered tennis as a young woman. She made a contest out of fly-fishing with her husband on the Au Sable River in Michigan.

“Sometimes he would get mad, because she would out-fish him,” her daughter said.

“She was such a compassionate, loving woman, but when she wanted to win something or do something that made a difference, like what she did for children, she was competitive about it. I would say that was from being a good athlete.”

After her husband’s death, she returned to Florence, Ala., a mill town where she’d grown up. She was credited as a driving force in the creation of a CASA program there.

“She saw in the South what it’s like to struggle,” her daughter said. “She wanted to make a difference for kids who are struggling.”

She was born Feb. 17, 1930, in Bronxville, N.Y., to Charlotte and Jewett Flagg. Her father was principal owner of the J.T. Flagg Knitting Co. in Florence. She was a graduate of St. Margaret’s School, Waterbury, Conn. She had a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and a master’s from the University of Toledo.

She was formerly married to the late John Kern.

Surviving are her sons, Peter and J. Brooks Kern; daughter, Mariann Austin; sister, Mary Louise Flanagan; eight grandchildren, and three stepgrandchildren.

Memorial services in Florence, Ala., this summer will be private.

The family suggests tributes to the Children’s Fund of Wood County at the Toledo Community Foundation; the Clare Bridge program for dementia care at Sterling House, or CASA of Florence in Lauderdale County, Ala.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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