Nancy was born April 7, 1948 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and her early years were spent in the small town of Mt. Healthy, Ohio. Later her family would briefly move to Arkansas and then to Connersville, Indiana where her father and mother remained for the rest of their lives. Above is her childhood home in Mt. Healthy. She took this photograph in 2006.
Nancy at 9 months.
Nancy at age 3 in front of the family’s Ohio home.
Nancy’s ancestral heritage is from West Virginia and Kentucky. Family names include Adkins, McCombs, Douglas and Hild. Pictured above are the 19th century family homes from Hamlin, West Virginia and Owensboro, Kentucky. Both her parents came from large families, but many of their siblings died early deaths, leaving only a few distant cousins for Nancy.
Nancy’s mother was Mary Adkins Hild (1915-2011) who grew up in Hamlin, West Virginia. She graduated high school and attended a West Virginia business college in the 1930s. This photo is dated 1939.
Mary was a devout Christian, well known for her ardent letter writing to her many friends and of course Nancy. Mary became a realtor in Connersville and tried her hand at art making after retirement. She could also be a good sport, posing here for Nancy’s 1980s work, “Mom.”
Nancy’s father, Raymond Charles Hild (1911-1998), was born in New Albany and grew up in Owensboro, Kentucky. He was a First Lieutenant in the Airborne Engineers of the U.S. Army and was awarded a Bronze Star for his “heroic achievement” during the 1944 September campaign in France. He was a paratrooper during the war, and when he came home, he had his parachute made into a bikini for Mary. She was somewhat scandalized. This photograph of Ray is captioned: “Nice, 1944.”
Ray graduated from the University of Louisville and was a refrigerating project engineer. He too was a letter writer and sent many postcards to his wife during the war and many cards to Nancy over the years. Here he is with Nancy’s beloved dog, E.O.; this image was part of a series of photos that Nancy incorporated into her work, “Ball II,” which is now in the permanent collection of the Krannert Museum of Art.
Ray and Mary married on November 17, 1943. They were married for 54 years.
In 1993, Nancy threw her parents a fiftieth wedding anniversary party. She designed the invitation.
In 1945, Nancy’s brother, Charles, was born. Nancy followed three years later making the Hilds the “perfect” American family.
Charlie and Nancy in 1949. Charles died of a brain tumor in 1953. His death profoundly wounded the family. Ray and Mary would faithfully visit Charles’s grave annually from 1954 until Ray’s death in 1998. Nancy, too, participated in the ritual. She and her mother continued these visitations until Mary’s death in 2011. Nancy would not return again to the cemetery until her own death. She is buried next to Charlie.
Nancy in 1954.
Nancy in 1960.
Nancy briefly had a career modeling in high school.