(Posted Nov. 5, 2015)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Nancy Dever knows how to bring history to life.
While living in Alexandria, Va., the London native spent eight years as a docent at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. She often portrayed characters from the time period and wrote stories for history lessons broadcast across the country from the estate’s distance learning center.
When Dever moved back to London two years ago, she and her husband, Larry, wasted no time putting their love of history to work as volunteers at the Madison County Historical Society Museum, including dressing up for pioneer-themed events as the county’s first white settler and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Alder.
On Nov. 1, Dever took on a new role. She is now the museum’s director, replacing Dorothy Richmond who held the position for 11 years and recently resigned due to a move out of state.
“When I came back to London looking to plug into history, it was great to meet Dorothy and to volunteer… She later recommended me for the director’s job, and I am eagerly stepping forward,” Dever said.
Dever grew up on her father’s farm on Roberts Mill Road outside of London. She graduated from Madison South in 1964 and married Larry, the boy next door, a 1965 graduate of London High School. They raised five children, have eight grandchildren, and last year celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
As a child, Dever’s favorite subject in school was Ohio history and Native American culture. As an adult, she enjoyed performing in several of Joyce Hilde-brand’s London Players community theater productions. She also sang professionally. While living in Virginia, in addition to her work at Mount Vernon, Dever was executive director for First Night, a multi-cultural New Year’s Eve celebration of the performing arts that drew 10,000 visitors and involved as many as 500 volunteers.
Dever plans to put all of these traits and experience—her innate love of history, her outgoing personality, and her ability to rally help—to work at the Madison County Historical Society Museum, a resource she views as invaluable.
“I’m so thrilled that we have this. Back in the day, we did not have a museum, the Alder Cabin, the Kitchen House,” she said. “I want to see Madison County step forward and appreciate their own heritage. I want children to get involved with their history right now. I want to see young people walk taller knowing their heritage.”
Dever said she looks forward to hosting events and exhibits that will draw people into the museum. She also plans to push for more Historical Society membership.
“The museum needs to have the support of the people. It is a treasure trove right here in the heart of London,” she said.
The public will have a chance to meet Dever at the Historical Society’s annual Christmas open house, set for 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 29. Admission is free. The museum is located at 260 E. High St., London. For more information about the Historical Society and museum, call (740) 852-2977.