Nancy Gorr left her mark on the town of Peterborough, making history as the first female president of the Rotary, and a long-time leader of the Chamber of Commerce and the Parent Guidance Center.
Gorr, 86, a resident of Summerhill Assisted Living, passed away Aug. 22 after a period of failing health related to her ongoing battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Gorr was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and came by her civic-mindedness, helping her father tend the family “victory garden.”
She and her husband, Arthur Gorr, raised four children together. When her children chose to attend colleges in New England, Gorr began to look for a home in the area. When she walked into what would become her Pine Street home for the first time, she knew immediately it was the right fit.
“She turned to the real estate agent and said, ‘This is it. This is the house,’” her daughter, Ellen Gorr of Harrisville said. And from that moment, Gorr was all in as a member of the Peterborough community.
Though a transplant who landed in Peterborough in 1982, the Pennsylvania native lost no time in putting her civic-mindedness to work in her new hometown.
“She was always on a committee,” said Ellen. “If you were out in public with her, she knew everybody in town.”
Gorr jumped in with both feet into several town committees and charitable boards, as well as joining the Rotary Club, where she would eventually become the club’s first woman president.
In 1986, she became the Executive Director of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, a post she held for nearly 10 years. In 1995, she was recognized as Peterborough’s Citizen of the Year for her work at the Chamber. But her “retirement” wasn’t to last. The next year, she became the executive director of the Parent Guidance Center, the organization that would eventually become The River Center. She held that position for another five years.
But she wasn’t only involved with civic and charitable endeavors. Gorr was a fixture in Peterborough, and could often be found at the Peterborough Diner or Nonie’s, singing with the Monadnock Chorus, among the audience at the Summer Lyceum series, or volunteering at the Union Congregational Church.
And she always had time for the people in her life.
Her grandson, Seth Blake, and his mother lived with Gorr for most of his childhood, he said in an interview Friday. And though his grandmother was always busy with one thing or another, she always had time for a conversation.
“She drove me to school, picked me up – she always had time for me, which was amazing,” Blake said. “As a little kid, you don’t think so much about it, but in retrospect, knowing how busy and active she was, it’s remarkable.”
Gorr had a personality that made it easy to open up to her.
“She was very warm, and very much made people feel comfortable,” Blake said. “She had a gentle sense of humor. She was very jovial and quick to laugh.”
“She was very accepting of all people,” said Ellen Gorr. “She really liked meeting people and building relationships.”
Gorr was a strong believer in supporting the local economy, and would eat out multiple times a week, with several “favorite” spots.
“People should know – if there was any doubt – that she was who she appeared to be, which was just an incredibly passionate and compassionate person,” Blake said. “She loved this town, was uncynical in her civic life and causes. She’s the kind of person who devoted herself to making life, and society, in her own small way, better for everybody. She had a devotion to service and volunteerism, and trying to leave the world a better place than she found it.”