October 30, 2020

Seekonk Land Conservation Trust remembers Nancy Messinger: A Life Well-lived

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Longtime Seekonk resident Nancy Messinger died in March 2020, but she will be well remembered for her lifelong work to preserve the natural beauty of Seekonk and the habitat of its wildlife. As a young girl, Nancy’s love of horses led her to work at the Jacob Hill farm of Mary Wilson, founder of the Seekonk Land Conservation Trust more than 50 years ago. The Wilsons spent their summers away from the farm. By her late teens, in the summer Nancy was in charge of caring for and training the foals of the rare, New Forest ponies which Mary Wilson bred and imported from her native England.

Nancy also took care of other horses in the area and loved to ride on the neighboring trails. Unfortunately, at the age of 32, she fell while riding and badly damaged her leg. Complications resulted in Nancy’s having to endure chronic pain for the rest of her life. Despite this hardship, Nancy often spoke of how grateful she was for the responsibilities and opportunities she had experienced as a result of Mary Wilson’s confidence in her abilities. Nancy eventually led the Land Trust from 1993-2003.

Under Nancy’s leadership, the Land Trust experienced some major additions to its holdings and portfolio of conservation restrictions. Edna Martin, artist and Lincoln School art teacher for 40 years, died during that period and left 28 acres of land surrounding Burr’s pond and three nearby houses to the Land Trust with her permission to sell the houses. Edna’s family had owned the property for generations, and her father used to drive her to school in Providence in a horse-drawn carriage which Edna continued to drive on the trails of her property. Thanks to this gift, the Edna Martin Wildlife Refuge is a remarkable source of beauty and respite.

Another major achievement during Nancy’s tenure was the protection of 150 acres of land along the Runnins’ River. The Land Trust worked with property owners along Prospect Street to create conservation restrictions that prevented the land from development in perpetuity and also protected the river.

In spite of life’s challenges, Nancy believed “you have to accept whatever comes along” and “meet it with courage and all that you have to give.” A large rock at the Edna Martin Wildlife Refuge marks the trail in honor of Nancy for all of her hard work on behalf of the Land Trust and the town of Seekonk. Fall is a beautiful time of year to visit the Refuge. As the leaves change color, Burr’s Pond shimmers with the trails of waterfowl and the colorful reflections of the trees surrounding the pond. If you visit, please remember to carry out anything that you carry in.

For further information, please check out https://www.seekonklandtrust.org/  and/or follow us on our facebook page www.facebook.com/seekonkLCT 

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