Nancy Harlow

Obituary of Nancy Jane Harlow

Nancy J. Harlow of State College, PA, died November 21, 2023, at The Village at Penn State. Born November 18, 1929, in Berlin, NH, she was the daughter of Frederick and Eva Vogel. Nancy was preceded in death by her husband of 68 years, Stewart C. Harlow, and two brothers, Robert Vogel and Richard Vogel. She is survived by five children: Stewart "Chip" (Barbara) Harlow Jr., Deborah (Delbert) Oakes, Judith (Robert) Caulk, Jeffrey (Linda) Harlow, and Bradford (Barbara) Harlow. Also surviving are 24 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren.

Nancy graduated from Berlin High School in 1947 and met Stew at the University of New Hampshire. They married after Nancy graduated cum laude in 1951 with a degree in English Literature. By the time Stew graduated in 1953 after first serving in the U.S. Navy, Nancy was pushing a baby carriage and settling into her self-described career as a mom, living for most of the next 48 years in Beaver, PA. Her annual Christmas letters showcased her writing talent, her legendary role as "The Mighty Mama," and her family's foolish behavior. Summer vacations were spent at the Lake Horace cabin that Stew built in Weare, NH, with Nancy spending the better portion of each day tanning on the float (again, that Stew built) whilst directing her kids to stop shading her. At home, she divided her attention between mandatory piano lessons with Mrs. Fleming, swimming lessons at the Beaver Pool, multiple kids' sports teams, and unyielding oversight of scholastic standards. Nancy did not like to cook but did it anyway, turning out family favorites that filled bellies for years, and she was well known for hauling ziplock bags of spaghetti sauce to offspring freezers at Penn State and beyond. When the kids were grown and scattered far and wide, Nancy volunteered with Meals on Wheels and the Medical Center Auxiliary in Beaver, sang along with Stew in the Four Mile United Presbyterian Church choir, and served with Stew on the inaugural Habitat for Humanity of Beaver County board of directors. She also wrote, designed, and published the Habitat newsletter, "Habitat Sawdust."

Nancy and Stew always considered their five children to be their greatest achievements, and when all five graduated from Penn State, Nancy and Stew formed a lasting bond with the Nittany Lions that only grew stronger when they became residents of The Village at Penn State 20 years ago. In Nancy's words, the move was "a good decision resulting in many friends and being spoiled by an incredibly wonderful staff."

Nancy was loved dearly by family, friends, and all who supported her unwavering commitment to chocolate ice cream. She was certainly mighty in Yankee spirit, and it is good and proper that she is now reunited with Stew, the love of her life, her strongest ally, and her collaborator in building their final legacy of remarkable generations of Harlows to follow.

Interment will be at Beaver Cemetery in Beaver, PA, at a later time.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Habitat for Humanity of Beaver County at 47 Bridge Street, Beaver Falls, PA, 15010, online at, or to a charity of your choice.

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