By Nicole Hamilton
The Cincinnati Enquirer
From the time she was born, Nancy Neumann knew she was living in a world where - if people acted on their beliefs - they could change it for the better.
Her great-great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Butterworth, did what many other Quakers living in the South did in the early 1800s: Sold their large southern estates and moved to where slavery was prohibited.
The Maineville farm he established served as an Underground Railroad station in the 1830s and 1840s. Ms. Neumann traced her heritage to Levi Coffin, a Quaker who helped slaves escape to Indiana and Cincinnati.
"She had an extremely strong sense of needing to do what's right," said Ms. Neumann's daughter, Gretchen Stone of Maineville. "Mom tried every day of her life to help people talk with each other, to promote integration, respect and peacemaking with those she encountered."
Ms. Neumann died Sept. 12 at her Maineville farm of heart failure. She was 89.
During World War II, Ms. Neumann was a dietician with the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization comparable to the Peace Corps, where she worked in civilian public service camps in various parts of the country.
"One of her favorite phrases was: 'Love God and rest will follow,'" said her daughter.
After the war, she continued her relief work with the committee in war-torn parts of Finland and later in Germany, where she met her future husband, fellow relief worker Louis Neumann.
In 1949, the couple moved to a remote town in western Mexico, where they assisted in community development until 1955. They returned to Cincinnati and settled on the Maineville farm.
She was educated at Terrace Park High School and then at Swarthmore College, in Swarthmore, Pa.., where she earned a bachelor's degree in political science with a minor in economics in 1934, at the age of 20.
Ms. Neumann began teaching at Loveland High School around 1957.
Her career as an influential teacher of American government, Latin, and Spanish, among other subjects, spanned two decades. But even after her 1976 retirement, she continued to teach. In the last year of her life, she taught a history class for home-schooled students.
"Rarely a day goes by when a former student doesn't ask me about Mom, often with comments about the effects she had on their lives, how she influenced them to be the first in their family to go to college, become a pacifist, or register to vote," her daughter said.
Ms. Neumann was a member of the Loveland Historical Society and the Quaker Meeting in Waynesville.
Her husband, Louis, preceded her in death in 1996.
In addition to her daughter, other survivors include another daughter, Katharine Richman of Salinas, Calif.; a son, Paul Neumann of Louisville; two brothers, the Rev. Tom Foster of Loveland, and Gordon Foster of Miami; and eight grandchildren.
A 3 p.m. memorial service is set for Oct. 4 at the Quaker Meeting, Fourth and High Streets, Waynesville.
Memorials may be made to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Education Fund, 245 Second Street NE, Washington, DC 20002.
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