Nancy Pinto-Orton, beloved wife of Brian Pinto, loving mother of Claire, Alex (Camille Schmah) and Alma (James Weber) and doting grandmother of Linden, Hugh, Nyssa, and Lina, went to Heaven on Thursday, February 17th. She had experienced numerous illnesses over the past two years, most notably cancer, but was unfailingly cheerful and optimistic.
Nancy was born in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, to Clifford and Ruth Orton. She was sister to Patsy (Ramon Johnson) and Cliff (Andrea Orton). She obtained an A.B. from Barnard College, New York, majoring in Anthropology in 1971, followed by an M.S. in Education from Kansas State University in 1974 and eventually a Ph.D. in Anthropology, with specialization in archaeology, from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, in 2001. She was a pioneer in online education, being the first adjunct professor to teach Cultural Anthropology and the Anthropology of Language online at the University of Maryland, University College, 2004-07. She also taught a course on Medicine, Health, and Culture. She developed and taught a distance learning course, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, at Widener University, 2002-07.
Nancy had a passionate interest in field work in archaeology. Highlights include participating as Excavator and Trench Supervisor in the underwater excavation of the Defence, an American Revolutionary War privateer, Castine, Maine, 1977-78; Principal Investigator, Ethnographic Survey of traditional maritime communities and the wooden ship building industry, Gujarat coast, India, 1980; Ceramic Specialist, Kantarodai ceramic collections (ca. 300 B.C.-A.D. 500), Jaffna, Sri Lanka, 1984; and Laboratory Director, Temple of Isis, Cumae, Italy, in 2000 and 2001, where she directed the preservation of Roman period artifacts.
Nancy met her husband, Brian, at the University of Pennsylvania in January 1981. It proved to be the winter of their content. They were married at Holy Family Catholic Church in South Ogden on August 17, 1982, and would have been married 40 years this coming August. Nancy was then pursuing her Ph.D. in Anthropology at Penn but put her studies on hold to raise their children. She was the backbone of her family and took delight in all their accomplishments, always putting herself last. Nancy completed her dissertation 17 years later and was awarded a Ph.D. in 2001--a testament to her dedication and perseverance.
Nancy was imbued with an acute sense of what truly mattered in life. Her priorities were keenly etched along the lines of love, kindness, compassion, and sharing with the less fortunate. She was a beautiful, sophisticated, and elegant woman with a lighthearted sense of humor and a subtle artistic sense, with a passion for classical music, the opera, reading, and gardening. She loved playing Bach’s Inventions and Chopin’s Preludes and Mazurkas on the piano, and taught Brian how to read music so he could improve his church choir singing. She was an intellectual and cultural explorer who loved to travel and throw herself wholeheartedly into unfamiliar situations. Typical was a trip to Macedonia in September 2015 for the wedding of a friend. Nancy was determined to make the most of it and went on the internet to arrange a two-day hiking trip through the mountains. This was followed by a road trip along the Via Egnatia, built by the Romans in the second century B.C. to connect Rome to Byzantium (now Istanbul). They were accompanied by an intense guide, exceeded in his enthusiasm only by Nancy, who left no stone unturned in sharing every cultural, musical, historical, archaeological, and religious highlight of the places we visited. On the way back to Ogden, Nancy and Brian stayed at the Forum Hotel in Rome overlooking the ruins of the Forum with a view of the Colosseum in the distance. Brian happily accompanied Nancy to museums and to an archaeological site outside Rome.
Suffice it to say that Brian’s life would have been pretty humdrum without Nancy. As a result of her encouragement and support, they lived in Poland, Russia, and England, using each opportunity for extensive travel. They even learnt to ski downhill after moving to Ogden in 2015!
Nancy loved the outdoors and she and Brian ventured on several memorable hikes in the beautiful wilderness areas and national parks of Utah. After Nancy’s cancer treatment ended in March 2021 and after both were double-vaxxed against COVID-19, they spent a week each in Moab and St. George. The overwhelming grandeur of nature did much to soothe and put life’s travails in perspective.
Nancy’s greatest joy was her grandchildren. She delighted in every opportunity to spend time with them, whether it be a visit to the park, going to a museum, or hiking. She started an annual tradition of baking Christmas cookies with them and never missed a chance to buy them a new toy or clothing when passing through Nordstrom Rack or Costco. Nancy proudly wore the title of “Nana” and made all the holidays special, especially Easter and Christmas, with beautiful decorations and the maintenance of religious and cultural traditions.
After moving to Ogden in 2015, Nancy devoted her time to The P.E.O. Sisterhood, a philanthropic organization providing women in need with scholarships to complete college; and to Onstage Ogden, an arts nonprofit promoting classical music and dance, of which her term as Board President (June 2020-January 2021) was cut short by cancer, although she continued to serve as Board member.
Nancy’s end was peaceful. Prayers were said by Fr. Charles Cummins and Rev. Gerson Annunciacao, Presbyterian chaplain at the hospital. The assembled family sang a few hymns, including Be Not Afraid, The Lord is My Shepherd, and Just a Closer Walk with Thee. Family from all over the world, including India, called to say goodbye to Nancy. She was given a warm and loving sendoff. She is now in Heaven with their daughter Claire and their grandson Baby Sullivan, whom she missed terribly.
A celebration of Nancy’s life will be held at 11 AM, Friday, March 4th at Leavitt’s Mortuary, 836, 36th Street, Ogden, Utah 84403, with an opportunity to meet Nancy’s family starting at 10 AM.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to one of the following three charities in Nancy’s name: Onstage Ogden; The P.E.O. Sisterhood (chapter F\UT); or the Ogden Rescue Mission. The family expresses its gratitude to the doctors, nurses, and staff at Huntsman Cancer Institute.