Published in the October 18, 2016 edition.

nanciobit-webWAKEFIELD — Nanci LaSpina Ruehrwein, 61, of Wakefield passed away on Saturday, Oct. 15, surrounded by her loving family at her childhood home. Nanci fought courageously after being diagnosed with lung cancer just nine months prior on Jan. 15. She fought until the bitter end, demonstrating her spirit as a true fighter and was an inspiration to those who knew her.

Born in Everett on May 2, 1955, Nanci relocated with her family to Wakefield at 6 months old, where she remained for the rest of her life. Often coined the “Mayor of Wakefield,” Nanci quickly became a staple in the community. She was always known for her nails, stylish outfits and sky-high heels. She was a very successful businesswoman, having opened Lubie’s Jewelry, which was named after her daughter Ami, at the age of 28 years old.

Lubie’s Jewelry soon became a landmark business within Wakefield, not only for the high quality merchandise she sold and the quick repairs she made, often for free, but also because of her customer service-oriented nature. Nanci’s strongest trait was her desire to assist others; whether for her family, friends, customers, local sports teams or even complete strangers — Nanci was always willing to help others while never seeking anything in return. For many years, Nanci also served on the Wakefield Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, including as the organization’s president.

Nanci attended Wakefield Memorial High School for two years, and still served on the reunion committee with her classmates, before graduating from Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational High School in 1973. Along her way, Nanci has kept many friends from her time at both schools.

She was known for her love of the sun, shoes, art work and motorcycles. She used her body as a canvas and expressed her inner beauty utilizing flowers, butterflies and birds. Nanci also loved music, especially the blues. She enjoyed listening to her husband John play her favorite songs on his guitar and watching him perform live at several venues. Additionally, she always encouraged her granddaughter Olivia to hone her talent as a pianist and enjoyed attending her recitals throughout the year.

One of Nanci’s favorite joys in life was to travel. Her favorite vacation spots were Orlando and Aruba, always finding time to enjoy the shining sun with her family. She was always a genuine person with her “tell it like it is attitude.” Furthermore, Nanci was an avid sports fan, having participated in sports such as gymnastics, basketball, field hockey and softball growing up, and always rooted for the home teams.

The love she shared with her husband John was immeasurable. Nanci was the devoted wife of 37 years to her high school sweetheart. Meeting at just 15, she and her husband quickly became inseparable. Along with her husband John, she is survived by her loving daughter Ami Wall and son-in-law Troy; her best girl, her granddaughter Olivia; her mother Theresa “Tess” LaSpina; sister Terri Panerese and her husband John; brother Michael LaSpina and his partner Gayle Smith; brother Steven LaSpina and his wife Betty; brother Johnny LaSpina and his wife Susan; sister Jo-Ann Stevens and her husband Billy; brother Eddie LaSpina and his wife Karen, along with many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws and friends. She was predeceased by her loving dad John LaSpina and her beautiful dog, a Doberman Pinscher named Diamond.

Visiting hours for relatives and friends will be held at McDonald Funeral Home, 19 Yale Ave., Wakefield on Thursday, Oct. 20, from 4 to 8 p.m.

Donations collected will go towards “The Gene Display” at Dana Farber in Boston. “The Gene Display” is a hallway that Nanci and her family walked down every day on her way to her radiation treatments. The family would love to honor her memory with one of these beautiful squares, and funds raised will enable Dana Farber to direct these critical dollars where they are needed most.