Nancy Kuhn Phipps passed to her Heavenly Reward on Tuesday, January 29. Born in Nashville, TN, on the same date 93 years earlier, she was reared in Tampa, graduating from Plant High, Class of 1944. She attended the Florida State College for Women (FSU) and then the University of Georgia, where she enjoyed working with Coach Wally Butts, attending practices, acting as scorekeeper, and tutoring players from its postwar championship football teams.
She married Harry Phipps, a Tampa native, Plant High Class of 1942, Navy veteran, and graduate of the University of Florida Law School, in 1950, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Tampa, which she attended in her youth. They spent several years in Atlanta, where Nancy & Harry developed their love of opera - one of Nancy's Junior League placements was to act as an usher every year for the week the annual Metropolitan Opera tour came to Atlanta.
Their family settled in Orlando in 1960. She & Harry became involved with the Associate Board of the Florida Symphony. Nancy also continued her membership in the Junior League and her favorite placements were the Bargain Box and the Opera Gala Guild. She was one of a few ladies responsible for bringing complete operas to Orlando and, as the Guild turned into the Orlando Opera, she continued to assist in growing opera in the community over the decades.
Nancy involved her whole family in everything she did for the opera. She and her family helped take care of the singers, aided in building & painting the sets, acted as supernumeraries (extras) in the productions, and basically did anything that needed to be done. She became President of Orlando Opera in 1973 and produced Puccini's La Boheme & La Rondine. Nancy later served as House Manager many times for the opera's Designer Showhouses.
Harry's career move to Annapolis for several years allowed Nancy to indulge in her love for antiques and work as a docent for Historic Annapolis. When they returned to Orlando, Nancy's love for the Junior League saw her as a beloved and enthusiastic member of the Sustainers 601 JLGO. She also volunteered as a docent at Leu Gardens, and, with the help of their extensive knowledge of antiques, began an estate sale business with her partner, Patty Edwards. She continued her work with the opera, including the present Opera Orlando. It is this love for opera for which she & Harry are most widely remembered, being frequently described as a Southern lady & gentleman.
Nancy is survived by all 5 children: Claibourne, Love, Robert (Susan), Oliver (Marjit), of Orlando, and Margaret (Rick Pamplin) of S. Florida; her 4 grandchildren: Thomas, Lillian, Harry, and Rosalinda Nancy, all Phippses of Orlando; and her brother Oliver Kuhn Jr. (Patricia) of Tampa. She was predeceased by her husband Harry in 2000 and her brother Robert Kuhn in 2003.
A celebration of her amazing life will be hosted at 2 p.m. Saturday, February 9, at the former home of Nancy & Harry most familiar to many friends, 234 E. Miller St. (between Orange Ave. and Delaney St.)
Donations may be made to Opera Orlando.