Nancy Harris holds up an old photograph of her parents, her sister and herself on Dec. 15 in her Auburn apartment. Next to her is the sign from Lewiston’s Calvary United Methodist Church where her father had been a minister. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

For Nancy Harris, Christianity is sustenance for her soul and reinforces her humanity.

The born-and-bred Cape Elizabeth native, who has been living in Auburn for years, is a gregarious and affable soul. She is also a devout follower of all Boston sports teams. The 73-year-old is unabashedly a Fenway Friendly and she finds it impossible to miss a Red Sox game on the tube — especially when the dreaded Yankees visit Beantown.

Her faith comes first and she practices what she preaches. Those who know her best enjoy her pleasant company and wide, reassuring smile. Harris, a civic-minded do-gooder, doesn’t say much about her faith, but she lives it every day with kindness and love.

“Grace is important to me. That’s all,” Harris said. “That’s the only thing that’s kept me going these past eight years. One day at time, OK. That power of prayer, well, it gets me through these days in this building. Now with that virus and everything, I miss getting into church and seeing everybody, OK. I haven’t been down to my sister’s house since last Christmas.”

She moved to the Roak Block, which is an elderly housing development operated by the Auburn Housing Authority, after her husband, Paul, died. Harris doesn’t drive, but her dear friend Yvonne Gross drives Harris to church.

“I describe Nancy as a dedicated Christian,” Gross said. “She came from a Christian family. She is very devoted to her flowers. In the spring, she always plants flowers around the church and she tends to them faithfully. She takes a great deal of pride in the flowers and how beautiful they are. She also works with flowers where she lives. She just loves flowers.

“She has a great concern for people. She calls me regularly, two or three times a week. We would pick her up, take her to church and she sang in the choir.” 

Harris, who was born with cerebral palsy, added that her faith inspires her to live a fruitful life despite her life-long condition.

Every Sunday morning since COVID-19 disrupted the planet, Harris, who is a retired nurse’s aid from Central Maine Medical Center, dials in to a Zoom conference to listen to a service produced by the Calvary United Methodist Church in Lewiston.

“I have a special number to call every Sunday morning now,” Harris said. “It is just important to me, OK. That’s all.”

Her late father, Edward L. Fenderson, was the minister of the Calvary United Methodist Church from 1969 to 1975. He was also a Pearl Harbor survivor during World War II.

“My father was a milk man at first,” Harris explained. “He decided to become a minister when I was in high school. I was a Baptist at one time. My father changed. I changed when he changed.”

Besides her gardening exploits around her church and at the Roak Block, Harris attends meetings at the Order of the Eastern Star, which is a fraternal organization that includes men and women as members.

Fellow Eastern Star member Betty Perkins has known Harris for 42 years.

“She is a caring person,” Perkins said. “She joined the Eastern Star in 1967. She has been an officer since way back. She is just fun to be around.” 

The power of her faith continues to help Harris navigate life’s ups and downs.

“I say my prayers every night and when I get up in the morning — and thank goodness I am still awake,” she said with a laugh. “You know what I am saying!”

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.