The end came quietly on Sept. 19 in her Discovery Bay home, after more than six years of struggle against ovarian cancer. Nancy Liechty will be long remembered as an inspiration to others, including Kaleidoscope, the cancer support organization from which she first received help, then dedicated herself to in order to help others.
Kaleidoscope members were greatly saddened by her passing. Theresa Rowland, Secretary of Connection for Kaleidoscope, said, "Nancy gave and gave and gave. Her giving was reciprocated and our members rallied around her in her days of need - many rose to the occasion as never before."
Organization head Jan Page said, "Nancy's loss was a blow to our organization and her presence will be greatly missed."
Susan Milner was the Kaleidoscope member most closely associated with Liechty's illness and took charge of the loving care and assistance given Liechty and her family as Nancy's disease progressed. Milner said a Kaleidoscope "Bag of Hope" - which is filled with thoughtful items and provides a means for connecting to cancer patients and their loved ones - was the link that inspired Nancy to reach out to others in the midst of her own struggle.
"When Nancy received a Bag of Hope several years ago," Milner recalled, "she was amazed that people cared and would come together to support others they didn't even know. From that point on, she worked tirelessly to bring hope to others. She was a courageous woman of great wit and compassion. I was fortunate to have been her point person for Kaleidoscope." Milner added that she became a point person for another cancer victim who wrote a poem entitled "A Beacon of Light."
"That poem perfectly describes what Nancy was to numerous others," Milner said.
Liechty was born in Sioux City, Iowa in 1949. Her mother died of cancer when
Liechty was 5, and she was raised by adopted parents. She married to Joe Liechty in 1969 and had two children, Erik and Andrea, both now married. Nancy and Joe divorced in 2004. Three grandchildren, a brother, three sisters and numerous cousins, nephews and nieces also survive Liechty, who told friends that, despite her progressing illness, her most enjoyable years were spent in Discovery Bay.
Nancy loved gardening almost as much as she loved people. But her efforts to grow midwestern plants and flowers would be thwarted by California weather. She humorously talked about changing her gardening direction to succulents. She was extremely close to her children and they gave glowing tributes to their mother during her funeral service that literally packed the Byron United Methodist Church. People came from as far away as Minnesota to attend the service, a tribute to a woman revered by friends and family alike - so many people lovingly touched during her tragically shortened life.
Kaleidoscope, the organization Nancy Liechty loved to serve, seeks to connect Bag of Hope recipients to others diagnosed with cancer, and offers support group meetings. Since Kaleidoscope's inception in 2003 as an outreach of the Byron United Methodist Church, the organization has grown beyond the vision of its founders. There has been such a need and demand that, in less than two years, the organization has grown to include more than 50 members and has served Bags of Hope to 360 recipients. The organization has received numerous requests for information on how to replicate its program.
Kaleidoscope can be reached at the Byron United Methodist Church, 14671 Byron Highway, P.O. Box 175, Byron, CA 94514; by phone at 634-1411; or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Liechty requested that memorial donations in her name be given to Kaleidoscope.