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Obituary: Nancy McCormick, supporter of arts and education

Philanthropist’s legacy lives on in Northwestern libraries and teaching awards

Nancy McCormick

EVANSTON - Nancy Hoskinson McCormick, a lifelong philanthropist and supporter of arts and education at Northwestern University and around the country, has died at the age of 97.

A resident of Seal Harbor, Maine, and Miami, McCormick died the evening of Feb. 18, surrounded by her family.

“Nancy McCormick was a remarkable woman whose influence and impact will continue to be felt at Northwestern and many other institutions,” Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro said. “Her generosity and leadership have benefited Northwestern’s libraries tremendously as well as other areas of the University. She will be missed and remembered fondly by all of us who knew her.”

She cared deeply for Northwestern University Library, not only for her family’s history and involvement, but also for the impact that the library has on the University as a whole. 

Stephen Strachan
McCormick's cousin and chair of Northwestern's Libraries Board of Governors

The Deering McCormick family represents a long tradition of support for Northwestern University. Nancy and her husband, Charles Deering McCormick, made several significant gifts to the University over the years. Their largest single gift went toward the creation of the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence awards, which celebrate faculty who excel in undergraduate teaching methods and innovation.

The couple created the humanities collections endowment at Northwestern University Library in memory of their son, Hilleary McCormick, following his death in 1985. Hilleary McCormick served on Northwestern University’s Libraries Board of Governors and, with his father, attended the ceremony to celebrate Deering Memorial Library’s acquisition of its 3 millionth volume in 1983. In 1986, Nancy and Charles Deering McCormick endowed the Charles Deering McCormick University Librarian, the position now held by Dean Sarah Pritchard.

Following Charles’ death in 1994, Nancy also endowed the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections in her husband’s memory.

Nancy McCormick

“Mrs. McCormick was a wonderful lady: kind, thoughtful and generous,” said McCormick’s cousin Stephen Strachan, who currently chairs the Libraries’ Board of Governors. “She cared deeply for Northwestern University Library, not only for her family’s history and involvement, but also for the impact that the library has on the University as a whole. We are all deeply indebted to her support of Northwestern and her remarkable philanthropy. We will miss her very much.”

Nancy McCormick was dedicated to enhancing the legacy her family built.

“She had an enormous appreciation for the libraries’ cultural heritage – in terms of both their physical structures and their academic mission,” Pritchard said.

The Charles Deering Memorial Library on the Evanston campus is named for Charles Deering McCormick’s grandfather. Charles Deering McCormick’s great-grandfather William Deering served as president of Northwestern’s Board of Trustees, was a founder and benefactor of Northwestern Memorial Hospital and served as the University’s only “honorary president” in history. At one point, the Board of Trustees proposed the University be renamed in his honor, but William Deering would not permit it.

In addition to their gifts and support to Northwestern, Nancy and Charles Deering McCormick also were benefactors of the Art Institute of Chicago; Groton School in Groton, Massachusetts; The Deering Estate at Cutler; Vizcaya Museum and Gardens; and Planned Parenthood.

Nancy McCormick

Nancy McCormick was born Nov. 11, 1919, in Washington, D.C., to parents Mabel Louise Fitch Hoskinson and Hilleary Gibbons Hoskinson, senior vice president of Riggs National Bank. She graduated in 1938 from Holton Arms School, an independent school for girls that celebrated generosity among its students and alumni. She worked as a model until her marriage to Charles Deering McCormick in 1947. 

Nancy McCormick is survived by her granddaughter, Nancy, who serves on the Northwestern University Libraries Board of Governors; great-grandchildren Sebastian and Cyra; daughter-in-law Katherine McCormick; and many nieces and nephews. Services will take place Wednesday, Feb. 22, in Miami, and interment will be in Chicago.

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