Nancy Adams Cole


On Friday, June 13th, 2014, the TNGenWeb Project lost one of our valued members.  

We were saddened to learn of the passing of Nancy Adams Cole, a former State Coordinator of this project, and a long-time volunteer and contributor.  Nancy mentored and collaborated with many of our coordinators and volunteers and she will be dearly missed.  The tribute below from her cousin and TNGenWeb coordinator, Billie McNamara, aptly describes how much Nancy has been of value to the project.



My heart is breaking as I write this, although I am joyful for her spirit
and jealous of her knowing the answers to our mutual family history brick

My precious cuzzin, Nancy Adams Cole, left us early on Friday morning.  Of
course, she picked Friday the 13th and a Full Moon to go out.  It’s
perfectly Nancy!

Our new TNGenWeb folks may not be aware of the integral roles Nancy and her
son, Jim, have played in our project since the very beginning.  Recounting
the details would fill a book.  When I asked if she wanted to adopt a
county, Nancy picked Rhea.  She knew very little about it (not even how to
pronounce it properly!), but she dove in with both hands and started
digging for resources.  Nancy raised a little army of transcribers, and
they set out to add tons of data for researchers’ benefit.

Nancy was a dedicated and consummate historical researcher.  She taught
herself HTML, and she mastered system administration so she could set up a
Web server at home.  Nancy was never satisfied with “almost okay” or
“mostly there” on anything.  She encouraged everyone to excel, but she
never pushed anyone beyond his or her limits.  She mentored a number of
TNGenWeb Project volunteers over the years, and all spoke highly of Nancy’s
dedication and guidance.

For several years, Nancy was our State Coordinator.  Under her leadership,
we achieved several important goals, including acquiring non-profit status,
which give TNGenWeb the cohesion and stability to keep us at the forefront
among purveyors of digital family and local history.

About 20 years ago, Nancy earned her teaching certificate and went to work
in the public school system, focusing on special needs kids.  Shortly after
she started teaching, a young man named Josh crossed Nancy’s path.  He
became her foster son, and she loved him dearly.  One of the last things
Nancy did was formally adopt Josh into our family.  Nancy also has a
daughter, Laura.

If you would like to make a tribute in her honor, I have a
couple of suggestions:  Nancy regularly gave to Heifer International (, and she spent the past 18 years promoting the
TNGenWeb Project (  Both are 501(c)(3)
organizations, so your contribution is tax-deductible.  If you donate to
Heifer International, you can ask that the memorial confirmation be
e-mailed to [email protected] — Taneya will make sure it is forwarded to
Nancy’s children.

Another cuzzin wrote a lovely tribute, and it sums up exactly how I will
remember Nancy:  “Such a loss…  She was so helpful, and generous with her
help, and a real researcher, not someone who just collected what other
people said/believed/had been told.  And she was never mean-spirited.”

As a matter of fact, “Be Nice” was Nancy’s only real rule for TNGenWeb
participants’ discussions and interactions.  We’ve done a pretty good job
of it, so I know she’s proud.

I will miss her…and I know I am not alone. 

–Billie McNamara


We offer our condolences to Nancy’s family and friends. Nancy is with her ancestors now and leaves an entire community mourning her loss. 

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