Columbus, Ohio USA
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Nancy Haitz (1952-2016)
A series of ripples remains
By Maria Galloway
May/June 2016 Issue
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Nancy Haitz © Gus Brunsman III
Some people travel through your life and leave not a trace in their wake. They leave no impression, just a vague memory.
Nancy Haitz was not that kind of person. She made ripples that touched nearly every part of the Short North.
She came to the Short North, before it was the Short North, in the employ of Sandy Wood. Wood Companies, at that time, was pretty much just the two of them, as well as a team of skilled contractors. And they all got their hands dirty. A residential project or two, and then came the conversion of the First Avenue School in Victorian Village into an office building. This project made Sandy’s name and won awards.
His “architect” was Nancy, a graphic artist, newly graduated from CCAD. She designed the spaces, chose the colors, was exacting and meticulous.
Sandy believed in being involved in the neighborhood, beyond just being a developer, and that went for his employees, too. Nancy sat on the business association as president, and it was during her term that the name of the business association was changed to the the Short North Business Association. The Near Northside Neighborhood had a new handle, a ripple that is with us still. Eventually she also served on the Italian Village Commission and helped to write their guidelines, a document still in use.
Not much later, Nancy met Ron Fauver. Perhaps it was at 50 Lincoln, a bed and breakfast project in Italian Village. It might have been at ArtReach Gallery, a new tenant of Wood Co., also located on E. Lincoln. At any rate, it was a love match. Ron, twenty one years her elder, but younger in temperament, was looking for A Red Haired Girl With Freckles. Nancy was what he would call “close enough.” In other words, they meshed. Over food, the cooking of same, over gardening and the arts. They traveled as much as they could, always hitting the best restaurants and museums.
Nancy’s next chapter and next set of ripples started when she was hired away from Wood Co. and went to work at the North Market, still in the old and drafty quonset hut, as Market Master. (She confided that they must have had an inflated idea of what Sandy was paying her.) She took the salary, but also gave far more than anyone else would have. She mediated disputes, made friends with all the merchants and, when things were mysteriously disappearing, staked out the market at night to catch a thief, a cold and miserable affair. The offending merchant was evicted and peace resumed. Only then did it become apparent how much had been going missing – Mike the cheese guy was suddenly not going through nearly as much cheddar cheese! What upset Nancy the most was that the thief had been stealing eggs from Dorothy the Egg Lady. That was unforgivable in her eyes.
Nancy’s longest chapter (besides her marriage to Ron) was the opening of her own business. Using her nest egg from working at the North Market, she anticipated the trend of the home chef and opened a cookware store, named The Cookware Sorcerer, specializing in real tools, not trendy gadgets or one-use appliances. For 27 years she carried knives and specialty pans for chefs and home cooks. Espresso presses, salt and pepper mills, sleek and deadly knives, sturdy and ample pots and pans, baking esoterica, crocks of spoons, hundreds of cookie cutters and a select amount of ingredients – specialty salts, sugars and extracts, lined her walls inviting touching and use. She had absinthe wares before anyone else. She would bring in artisan-made jewelry of food-related designs as well. Her latest obsessions were pie birds, vintage barware and artisan-made knives.
A terrible chapter started when Ron fell ill, first with heart issues, then with cancer of the esophagus and eventually kidney failure. He wasted away before our eyes, but Nancy cared for him as she did all things, with care, precision and love. Her business also suffered when Ron was ill, as Ron always came first. He passed in June of 2014. Her attention then turned to her long-neglected business. She was gearing up to expand and fine tune when the diagnosis of cancer cut it all short.
Nancy’s last chapter was painfully short. She was able to sell the business, which lives on under a new name and a different emphasis, but still has a core that she created. The cancer was ruthless and unresponsive to treatment. Hospice was called on and made the final weeks bearable and more comfortable. She talked of nothing but food at the end. Cravings for long-closed restaurants had her searching the Internet for recipes and re-creating what she could. And yet, she really didn’t feel like eating. She held a couple of dinner parties in her final weeks, gatherings of friends and family around Ron’s huge dining room table, to partake one last time, to talk, and raise a glass.
What she left behind is a series of ripples, that brought people together, that inspired them to pick up a knife and cook, to try something new, to reach a little bit farther. It is a legacy, of commitment to a neighborhood and a city, to family and to friends, to beauty in all forms, culinary and otherwise.
Nancy was a member of The Family We Choose. She will be sorely missed.
Maria Galloway is co-owner of pm gallery. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org
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