She is an award-winning writer. I enjoyed reading her books and her long-time column in Richmond Magazine. It is always great catching up with her at NPFW conferences and the pre and post tours. Meet my wonderful friend, Nancy Wright Beasley.
Name: Nancy Wright Beasley
City and State: Richmond, Virginia
Affiliate and any leadership positions: Virginia Press Women (now known as Virginia Professional Communicators) previously served as secretary. I am currently a board member and have served for several years. COA Nominee for VPW – 2006, recipient of multiple communication contest awards.
Years as member of NFPW: 32
Tell us a little about you.
My father was illiterate and my mother only had a 6th education, but they instilled such a love for education that I initially entered college at 17. I married the third boy I dated at Chowan Junior College the following year and took a break to raise two wonderful boys. At 39, I completed a bachelor’s degree and at 46 I became a widow, however, at 60 I completed a graduate degree at the School of Mass Communications, Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. At the time, the late George Crutchfield, one of five men who originally joined VPW, was the director of the school and was instrumental in encouraging me to pursue my degree. His widow, Francine, and daughter, Lisa, are members of VPW and dear friends of mine. At 66, I received a Master of Fine Arts in Children’s Literature from Hollins University in 2011. At 69, I think I’ve finally finished formal schooling, unless you count summer school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and at the University of Pittsburgh, where I studied Lithuanian. And, oh yes, I have three perfect grandchildren.
Any career advice you would give?
Never give up and don’t let age limit or affect your dreams. My stalwart parents were the best example of simply putting one foot in front of the other and never looking back. In his lifetime, I don’t recall my late father ever missing work but three days, when he had the flu. Also, my dear late mother’s advice always rings in my ears when I get weary: “Nothing beats a failure but a try.” Another one of her sage pieces of advice: “Sleep on it. Things always look better in the morning.”
Which talent would you most like to have?
I’ve always wanted to paint and play the piano.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Beside the ocean so I could hear the surf.
What book are you reading?
“The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Most people consider me an extrovert. While I immensely enjoy interacting with folks, especially at NFPW conferences, I prefer to live and work alone and need lots of quiet time.
Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?
I joined Virginia Press Women in 1982, at the invitation of Katherine Calos, who remains a good friend, as well as a current member. At the time I was a state correspondent for The Richmond News Leader and Katherine was a travel writer. Over the last 30+ years, I have branched out to economic development, public relations, newspapers and various publications of all sizes, each time meeting new VPW members and gaining from those associations. Some of my closest and dearest friends are members of VPW. My longest tenure, 16 years and three months as a personal columnist and contributing editor for Richmond magazine, has just drawn to a close. VPW members have been there to support me through that in a very significant way. Also, I have lost count of the wonderful friends I’ve made through NFPW, many of whom I’ve visited in their homes in other states.
In 2005, I published “Izzy’s Fire: Finding Humanity in the Holocaust,” a story of how a Catholic farm family risked their lives to save 13 Jews from certain death during the Holocaust in Lithuania. It won a 1st place in VPW and NFPW competition and is now being used in schools and universities in many states, as well as in Lithuania. A second book, “Reflections of a Purple Zebra,” a compilation of my columns was published in 2007. “The Little Lion,” a young adult historical novel about a Jewish teenage boy who gave his life to save other Jews in Lithuania is being shopped at this time.
How can we keep in touch with you?
I have an active personal Facebook page and also welcome visits to my book website: www.nancywrightbeasley.com.
Special note: VPW recently change its name to Virginia Professional Communicators. I didn’t want to change the name, so I was gifted with the VPW logo at our spring conference, which is now proudly displayed in my office. It was the end of a 56-year era. We might have changed our name, but our devotion to each other and to our craft hasn’t wavered.