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Nancy C. Blemly (1953-2015)

Nancy Carol Blemly, longtime astronomy enthusiast and employee of the National Security Agency, died of cancer at age 62 on 3 November 2015. Born to Pearl Stephania Roediger and Kenneth Howard Smith in Chicago on 2 September 1953, Blemly and her younger siblings moved frequently due to her father’s career with the U.S. Geological Survey, before settling in Fairfax, Virginia, when she was 14. She graduated from Herndon High School in 1971, received her bachelor’s degree in astronomy from Wesleyan University in 1975, and a masters degree from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio in 1981. She was hired by the National Security Agency, advancing through a series of technical positions to a managerial post, before retiring in 2014.

Blemly was an active member of the Institute of Navigation (ION) and participated in many meetings of its Precise Time and Time Interval (PTTI) Systems and Applications group. She edited the proceedings of PTTI’s 2011 meeting in Reston, Virginia. ION members recall her keen sense of humor and her love of travel, especially back to Hawaii where she had met her future husband Mike at a professional meeting. She was also an avid quilter and belonged to the Annapolis Quilt Guild. A quilt Blemly made for her mother contained scenes from all nineteen locations where her family had lived while she was growing up.

Blemly is survived by her husband, Mike Blemly, son Ben Hamilton and fiancé John Turner, David Smith and wife Kay Culver, brother Jeff Shane Curren and wife Angela, sister Karen Smith and partner Jim Myers, and nephews Angelo, Samuel and Ethan Curren.

Obituary written by: Alan Hirshfeld (University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth)

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BAAS Citation: BAAS, 2015, 47, 020