Nancy Milstein

December 24, 1937 ~ June 27, 2021 (age 83)


Nancy Phyllis Greene Milstein passed away peacefully in her sleep in Ithaca, NY on the morning of June 27th at the age of 83. Nancy always exhibited grace and poise, including the years during which she lived with dementia which made it increasingly difficult for her to communicate. Yet, it also distilled her down to the best of her essence - always smiling and laughing - with her kindness to everyone multiplying over time.

Nancy was born Christmas Eve 1937 in Auburn, ME to Myer Greene and Eva Kleven Greene. She grew up in Lewiston-Auburn, ME, graduated from House in the Pines in Massachusetts, and earned her nursing degree from Simmons College. While attending college in Boston, Nancy met and later married her partner of 61 years, Herbert Milstein. After college, Nancy was a registered nurse in Illinois, New York, Virginia, and then Washington, DC. In the 1980s, after having taken time from work to raise her family, she returned to nursing and worked tirelessly to try to unionize Sibley Hospital in Washington, DC in order to create better working conditions for all nurses there. After retiring from nursing, Nancy became director of development at The McLean School. Throughout her life, Nancy was a dedicated community volunteer, including working with Hospice to bring palliative care to those at the end of their own lives.

Together, Nancy and Herb raised three children and traveled throughout the world with dear friends and family. For over half that time, they relished time together on Martha’s Vineyard which became a second home.

Nancy was known for her kind and generous nature, philanthropy, and devotion to family, friends, and community. She made her house a welcoming place where her children’s friends would often call her Mother Nancy or Nurse Nancy, reflecting the care she showed to everyone. There was never a party, event, or life celebration that Nancy did not want to attend, a conversation she did not want to have, a stranger she did not want to meet and help in some way, or music to which she did not want to dance.

In addition to Herb, Nancy is survived by her three children, Lori (Washington, DC), Mark (Ithaca, NY), and Andrew (Syracuse, NY); their spouses David, Monica, and Melissa, respectively, whom she considered her own; her grandchildren Joshua, Charlotte, Eva, Max, Badyn, and Arlo; and her dear cousins Diane, Ellen, and Gail who were the siblings she never had.

A service and burial will take place Friday July 2nd, on Martha’s Vineyard. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Nancy’s name be made to the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center (; 130 Center St., Vineyard Haven, MA 02568)  to support the MVHC Summer Institute film and speakers series. 

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