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Posted on June 5, 2017 | 3:20 p.m.

Nancy Walker Koppelman of Santa Barbara, 1954-2017

Source: Jennifer Freed

Nancy Walker Koppelman, who was born June 4, 1954, in Anaheim, California, to Velma Koontz Walker and Ross Walker, died peacefully at home in Santa Barbara, California, on May 26, 2017. She was 62.

Nancy Koppelman was a friend to presidents from around the world and known for her commitment to social justice, but she was devoted to her family first. (Koppelman family photo)
Nancy Koppelman was a friend to presidents from around the world and known for her commitment to social justice, but she was devoted to her family first. (Koppelman family photo)

She is survived by her husband, Larry; her heart’s purest love, daughter Renee; her brother, James Walker; her nephew, Tru Phillips; rescue dogs Jasper and Thea; and literally hundreds who claim her as their best friend.

Nancy was known for her relentless quest for social justice and her persuasive progressive vision. Her passion for social equality began when she was a college student working in the women’s health care movement. In the early 1970s, not long after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade abortion ruling, she helped create the feminist health-care clinic.

In 2007, Koppelman became a member of the Democratic National Committee. She served on President Barack Obama’s national finance and election committee from the very beginning, and throughout his time in office. Over the past 10 years, the Koppelmans hosted events for authors, scientists, five Nobel Peace Prize winners, world leaders and politicians, including President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Nancy also was as an ambassador for UC Santa Barbara Arts & Lectures; was a key board member of Direct Relief; co-founded the Global Neighborhood Fund, which helps fund social justice in Liberia; and served on the advisory boards of the Aspen Brain Lab and The Aspen Institute and One Heart World-Wide.

On a personal level, Nancy Koppelman was the “holy hostess.” Everyone who knew her felt surrounded by her magnificent love and basked in her enveloping hugs. She expertly understood and affirmed people’s strengths, and connected people to one another to fulfill their mutual artistic or philanthropic goals. Whether she was entertaining or endorsing presidents or advising a friend of her beloved daughter, Renee, Nancy brought out the light and the best in everyone.

No one had better or more clever repartee than Nancy, and she was as good at going low as she was at going high. If you asked her “How are you?” she would reply, “I’m adorable.” She had an incomparable gift for mirth and was known for her exceptionally whimsical gift giving.

In the last months of a lifetime of fearless inner and outer explorations, Nancy taught her tribe how to love without pretense or constraint. In her own words: “To be continued ...”

Please send all your love to Nancy’s family by donating to the causes mentioned: UCSB Arts & Lectures, Direct Relief, Global Neighborhood Fund, Aspen Brain Lab, The Aspen Institute and One Heart World-Wide.


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