Heather Beyer

KENT: Nancy Hansford, a political pioneer and a longtime civic leader in Portage County, died unexpectedly Saturday. She was 83.

Mrs. Hansford was the first woman to hold the mayor’s office in Kent — from 1982 through 1986, when she then was elected Portage County commissioner. She held that post until 1991, when she joined the Akron Regional Development Board as assistant director of finance and senior loan officer.

She served as chairman of the Portage County Republican Party in the 1990s and at the county Board of Elections.

Active in many groups, Mrs. Hansford was a longtime Kent leader and volunteer. She was involved with the Kent United Church of Christ, Olive Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star and the Republican Party, as well as many other community organizations.

The Rev. David Pattee of Kent United Church of Christ said Mrs. Hansford was an active member since she joined the church in 1944.

“My fondest memory will be that she made me a pie for my birthday every year,” Pattee said with a warm chuckle. “She will be sorely missed.”

After graduating from Roosevelt High School in 1947, she married her high school sweetheart, Bruce Hansford.

The couple raised two children, Susan and David, who both still reside in Kent with their families.

Mrs. Hansford also is survived by a sister, three granddaughters and five great-granddaughters.

Friends may call from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. today at Bissler & Sons Funeral Home, 628 W. Main St., Kent. A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Kent United Church of Christ, 1400 E. Main St.

Private burial will be held at Standing Rock Cemetery in Kent.