LYNNFIELD — Few stories pull at the heartstrings more than those about promising young lives cut tragically short.

This is just such a story.

Nancy Enwright was the epitome of the “All-American girl” while growing up in post-war Lynnfield during the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s. She was smart, accomplished, pretty and popular. A member of the second class to graduate from Lynnfield High School in 1961, her classmate and one of her best friends, Carol (Bacon) Billington, described her as “an achiever and a strong leader who graduated with top honors.”

“Nancy attended Lynnfield schools from grade 1 to 12. She was the only child of Jim and Claire Enwright of Homestead Road and she was the light of their lives. For them, the sun rose and set on their daughter as far as I could tell,” Billington recalled.

Her many accomplishments included being a two-year member of the National Honor Society while also serving as both Editor-in-Chief of the Class of 1961 yearbook and a member of the Student Council for two years as well as a three-year member of the Marshall Board.

Nancy was also athletic and active on Pioneer sports teams, including basketball, field hockey, tennis and cheerleading. She somehow also found the the time to be a member of the Latin Club, Dramatics Club and Debating Team.

Classmate Warren Mason has fond memories of her as well. “Nancy to me was just the carbon copy of the All-American girl. She was a sweet girl, a good student; she was involved in lots of different activities, just a wonderful girl,” he said.

“My earliest remembrance of Nancy was around the Little League program. Most of us played three sports and many of our fathers were active in designing and building the first Little League field in Lynnfield,” he said.

Nancy’s father, Jim Enwright, was right there rolling up his sleeves alongside the players’ fathers to help build the field even though “he had no skin in the game” because Little League was only open to boys back then. “He loved baseball and he loved his daughter,” Mason recalled.

Another classmate, Janice (Paleanovich) Lisi, recalled meeting Nancy for the first time in the fifth grade, when the town moved all of the fifth-graders over to the South School while the original junior/senior high school was being built. Their class was close-knit in part, because they were together for so long. The following year, they took up residence in the new school and remained in that building in sixth through 12th grades.

Nancy “had a positive attitude,” Lisi recalled, and although she was a serious student, “she did enjoy being with friends.” She added that Nancy was honored in the yearbook with a “senior superlative” for having done the most for their class.

Cancer diagnosis

After graduating from LHS, Nancy attended Aurora College in Wells, N.Y. She graduated in 1965 and became certified to teach school. Unfortunately, her teaching career would be brief as she was diagnosed with cancer not long after graduating from college.

“She taught for a short time before she became too ill to continue,” Billington recalled. By this time, Billington was married to an Air Force Lieutenant and they were stationed in the Philippines, making it hard to stay in touch.

Nancy died in 1968 and was buried in Puritan Lawn Cemetery. Neither Billington or Mason were able to attend Nancy’s funeral as Mason was in the service and Billington was still living in the Philippines, although she recalled her mother telling her that hundreds of people attended the service.

Mason recalls being told that Nancy’s mother was too ill herself to attend her only child’s funeral. Shortly after their daughter died, they sold their home on Homestead Road “and no one seems to know where they moved,” Mason said.

“Nancy was my very best friend for several years and I will never forget her,” said Billington, who now lives in Maine.

Fast-forward several decades when Billington visited Puritan Lawn Cemetery, where many of her family members are buried. She decided to locate Nancy’s grave too. Once she found it, with the assistance of a cemetery worker, she was surprised to discover that a grave marker was never placed there.

It bothered her tremendously that her friend’s grave remained unmarked after all these years. Other classmates who attended the 50th class reunion felt the same way when they learned about it. So, through the magic of the interconnected world in which we live and the compilations of contact information class members had from prior reunions, Billington was able to set up a “Go Fund Me” online account and within a month, they had raised the $2,200 needed to pay for the granite marker.

In fact, the site was so successful that she had to take it down because more money than was needed was being donated and would have to be returned. “People donated quickly and without reservation,” Billington said.

In keeping with the style at Puritan Lawn, it is a small, flat marker with a simple message. It reads: “In remembrance of our LHS friend – 2015” along with her name, date of birth and date of death.

Dedication on Saturday

About 20 members of the Class of 1961, plus their spouses or significant others will gather at Puritan Lawn Cemetery on Saturday, June 27 at 11 a.m. for a graveside dedication ceremony. The group will meet at the main gate and be escorted by staff to her grave.

Coincidentally, the next day, June 28, would have been Nancy’s 72nd birthday. Puritan Lawn only allows fresh cut in-season flowers to be placed on any grave. Those flowers can remain on graves only for one day before they are picked up by grounds crew, but it makes Billington happy to know that flowers will be on Nancy’s grave for her birthday. “It seems the stars are aligned the way they should be,” she said.

The dedication ceremony will last about an hour and will be followed by a cookout at Jay Kimball’s house on Main Street across from the town common. Kimball is also a member of the Class of 1961.

Mason would welcome other members of his class and other classes to join them for this special dedication. He invites those with questions to send him an e-mail at

“Can you imagine what she would have accomplished in life had she lived? She would have done some really good things, I believe,” Billington said, “And, of course, I would have had a best friend for life. After she died I have been unable to find myself bonding to another woman the way I did with Nancy.”

Published in the June 24, 2015 edition