Sunday, Nov 19, 2017
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Nancy Britz: 1930-2014; Pianist known for duos with mother, work with day lilies

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Nancy Gould Britz, who performed as a duo pianist with her mother — an acclaimed local piano teacher and composer — and who taught calculus at the University of Toledo, died Monday in her Cape Elizabeth, Maine, home. She was 83.

She was a resident of Maine, where her son, David, lives, for nearly a decade. She’d been in declining health since breaking a hip 15 months ago, her daughter Jenifer Duryea said.

Ms. Britz taught herself to hybridize day lilies and in recent decades, as a resident of New York and Massachusetts, produced thousands of hybrids, some as gifts for family and friends.

“She never did anything half measures,” said daughter Jenifer, whose namesake day lily “is definitely a pink one. ... She built a greenhouse and immersed herself completely. It was amazing some of the colors she was able to develop.”

Ms. Britz also became adept at landscaping and wrote an article on dwarf conifers for Fine Gardening magazine.

She was born Dec. 7, 1930, in Toledo to Elizabeth Davies Gould and George Gould, a prominent Toledo lawyer, and grew up on Putnam Street. She learned to play the piano from her mother, and by her late teens, she and her mother performed publicly as duo pianists.

Ms. Britz was a graduate of Maumee Valley Country Day School and attended Smith College. She later received a degree in mathematics from UT where she taught in the 1960s and early 1970s. She brought fairness and a logic to her teaching, said a UT student of hers — daughter Jenifer — and she “had an understanding of how to get the ideas across.”

She also played host to social gatherings after Toledo Symphony rehearsals in honor of that week’s guest artist, her daughter said.

She later taught at the Milton Academy in Massachusetts and the Chapin School in Manhattan. She was a world traveler and a champion of Democratic candidates and progressive causes.

“She was very independent and not shy about speaking her mind and not particularly wrapped up in conventional expectations,” her daughter Jenifer said.

She was formerly married to the late Edwin Duryea, the late John Turin, and Harland Britz and formerly was the companion of concert pianist Andre Watts.

Surviving are her daughters, Jenifer and Beth Duryea; son, David Turin; sister, Elizabeth Herrera; four grandchildren, and four stepgrandchildren.

Services are pending. Arrangements are by Hobbs Funeral Home, South Portland, Maine.

The family suggests tributes to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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

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