Nancy Pelgrift Cogswell

Nancy Pelgrift Cogswell passed away peacefully surrounded by her family Sunday, Nov. 24, in Falmouth, Mass. after an incredible 96 years of life filled with adventure, love and time spent with family.

Nancy was a longtime resident of Longmeadow, Mass., and had recently moved to Cape Cod to be closer to family.

Nancy was born in Hartford, Conn., July 25, 1923, the daughter of Delancey Sheville Pelgrift and Anne Loretta MacKinnon.

She was raised in Hartford and West Hartford, Conn., and spent her summers at “Rustling Oaks,” the beloved family cottage on Wickham’s Creek, Fleets Neck, Cutchogue, Long Island, N.Y., visiting with her grandparents, aunts and uncles of the Fleet clan.

She attended Hall High in West Hartford and went on to graduate from Wellesley College with a B.A. in math in 1945, rolling her hoop down Tupelo Lane on her graduation day that May.

She was the president of her sorority at Wellesley and could often be found planning mixers with the nearby men’s colleges. She was also a self-proclaimed matchmaker, setting her roommate Liz up with her brother Bob. The couple later married and made Nancy “Auntie” to seven!

At a cocktail party in West Hartford after World War II, she ran into a young man she had met during dance class in her high school years. He asked her brother’s permission to drive her home from the party and that was just the beginning of a 44-year romance with her husband, Bradford Merriam Cogswell, who predeceased her in 1992.

In the early years of her marriage, Nancy focused on raising her three children (Judy, Charlotte, and Jonathan) and was actively involved in the community, serving as the president of Wellesley Club, The Junior League of Springfield and The Boys and Girls Clubs of Springfield, Mass. She was also an active member of Faith Church in Springfield.

In the late ’60s, a family friend, George Yerrall Sr., convinced Nancy to try her hand at residential real estate, at which she quickly flourished. She was a multiple sales award honoree and became the local doyenne of her profession, continuing to work until she was 85.

In their later years, Nancy and Brad enjoyed memberships at Colony Club and Century Club, traveled to Europe, visited with friends in Florida and enjoyed their summers with family in Cutchogue. After Brad’s passing, Nancy began traveling to the Bahamas, Central America and Mexico with Charlotte’s family, helping to take care of her granddaughter Anne with a purse you could count on to be filled with Werther’s candies. Nancy had an incredible zest for life and in her 90s was still enjoying sipping champagne, eating oysters and family holiday gatherings.

Nancy leaves behind her three children, Judith Lowe (Edward), Charlotte Cogswell (John Ryther Jr.) and Jonathan Cogswell (Lisa); six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren who all loved Grams or G-Unit as she was affectionately referred to.

Nancy was a stickler for grammar and etiquette at the table, a product of her mother’s teaching. Her children and grandchildren knew to never stack plates when clearing the table along with many other rules that the family turned into the “Grandma Nancy’s School of Etiquette.” Rule #15: No hiding under the table during a meal (especially at the Colony Club) — grandkids Kate, Laura and Anne broke this rule often.

A reception and celebration of life for family and friends will be held Saturday, June 6, at Storrs Library in Longmeadow, Mass. For more information, please email Jonathan Cogswell at [email protected].

Donations in Nancy’s name can be made to The Boys and Girls Clubs of Springfield at and the Richard Salter Storrs Library at

This is a paid notice.