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NANCY SNELLINGS INABNETT

By Meagan Russell
In Bayou Icon
Dec 2nd, 2020
0 Comments
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Monroe has been home to many remarkable people who have “made a difference” in countless ways. Some are relatively easy to spot – dynamic politicians, visionary business leaders, and innovative educators, for example. Others are not so obvious, but their contributions are no less significant. Those who know NANCY SNELLINGS INABNETT understand this distinction well. While others in her storied family have been highly visible public figures, Inabnett chose a different path. Although hardly shy, she nonetheless decided early in life to use her considerable influence in quieter, more subtle ways. For her STEADY LEADERSHIP in the non-profit sector, her outstanding professional career in real estate, and because of her UNABASHED LOVE and COMMITMENT TO THIS COMMUNITY, Inabnett is our December Bayou Icon.

Nancy Inabnett Snellings was born in Monroe and has spent nearly all of her life here. Her parents, both lawyers, set the bar high for their children both through their professions and through their dedication to their community and their church. Nancy’s father, George Marion Snellings, Jr., held a number of board posts including Delta Air lines, Central Bank, and the University of the South (serving as a trustee at Sewanee). He practiced law from 1935 until his death in 1984. 

Nancy’s mother, Marie Louise Wilcox, grew up in New Orleans. She attended Newcomb College and graduated from Tulane University’s Law School. There she met and fell in love with her professor and future husband, George Snellings. Snellings had entered Princeton at age 15 (his mother stayed there with him for the first several months) and then graduated Harvard Law. They married, lived in Monroe for several years and then moved to Washington, D.C. with young George and new daughter, Nancy, during World War II. Nancy’s mother earned a master’s in law from Columbia University while her father practiced law in Monroe. During WWII Nancy’s dad served in the U.S. Navy in Washington, DC. Afterward, the Snellings returned to Monroe and made it their home. Both were highly respected members of the community, and instilled in their children the importance of working for causes that they believed in.

Nancy remembers her childhood with joy. The neighborhood children knew her parents as “Cook” and “Gogo” and were always eager to share in the standard weekend activities — cooking out and welcoming adults and children alike. There were no locked doors, Nancy remembers, and everyone enjoyed a special sense of community. “All my living grandparents, my parents, and Carrick’s parents (Kenneth and Katheryne aka “Mimi” and “Nini”) lived in Monroe and everyone was welcome to walk in their homes at any time,” Nancy says.

Nancy’s mother was an active volunteer in the community, showing her daughter by example what was truly important. She also embarked on an entirely new career – farming (growing crops and breeding cattle) – at midlife and owned her own farm in Caldwell Parish. Once again, she was setting an example for her daughter to follow her dreams whenever and wherever they lead. 

Carefree rides on the Millsaps’ houseboat on the Ouachita River, sleeping under the stars (and mosquito nets!), and enjoying the vibrant conversations around her family dining table were highlights of Nancy’s childhood. The family home was the Old Country Club which her parents repurposed as their family home. She especially enjoyed being with people of all ages and from all walks of life who gathered at the family table for dinner at least twice a week. “One or two dogs were always under the dining room table hoping for a handout,” Nancy recalls with a smile. “Our home was also a revolving home to all politicians.”

Nancy remembers fondly spending time with her mom riding horses every week. Equally fun were trips to the farm in her mother’s old red truck, listening to her candid assessment of “doings” in Louisiana. 

Holidays were always festive, especially the Halloween and Easter parties. Nancy and Carrick have continued the Easter Egg Hunt tradition by not only hiding eggs, but also letting out 20 or more rabbits for the children to catch. (One — “Freddie” — was caught by Lucy and Walt Sartor, and is still happily hopping some 12 years after capture.)

Sharing this delightful childhood were Nancy’s siblings – the late George M. Snellings III and E. Frank Snellings. When Nancy was 12 years old, her parents realized their dream for a third child. During the early 1950’s, adoption for a couple over 40 with children had almost no chance at adopting. Nancy’s parents wanted a child at least 4 years old and had faith that someday they would find one. They turned to the church.

“One Sunday after church, my parents invited the visiting priest from Ireland for dinner. They told him of their wish,” Nancy recalls. “He connected them with a home in Ireland, and not long after we were on our way to New York and then by ship to Ireland to meet Frank, a 5-year-old. This was a gift for Frank, and an even greater gift for our family.”

When Nancy’s parents were asked beforehand if they would like to see a photograph of the child who would become a part of their family, they declined. Nancy remembers them saying that whatever child was meant for them would be the perfect child.Through her brothers, Nancy has welcomed 4 sisters-in-law:  Betty Nolan, Caroline Boyett, Dianne Cage, and Mary Landrieu. She considers them to be the sisters she didn’t have growing up.

EDUCATION NEAR AND FAR

Nancy cherishes the education that she received through the Monroe City Schools – Georgia Tucker, Lexington, and Neville. At Neville, Nancy was active in several clubs including the Tigerettes (she served as Captain for 2 years and helped plan the half-time shows with the band director) and the Latin Club (one of the most successful clubs on campus at that time).

Both Father Jack Allin, rector at Grace Episcopal Church, and Neville English teacher Jane Whittington were important mentors. Father Allin became the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States. From Bishop Allin, Nancy learned “. . . the way to live a Christian life.” Whittington taught her to love literature and language, a love that remains today.

At Newcomb College, Nancy’s favorite subject was Art History. This gave her a “world view” of history and an awareness of the changing cultures of the world.  Although the pull to the Liberal Arts was strong, Nancy attended Tulane Law School.  Her grandfather, Dr. George M. Snellings, a Tulane Medical School graduate, was a pioneer doctor in Ouachita Parish. Nancy’s father, mother and both brothers were attorneys. 

While at Newcomb, Nancy lived in Cambridge, England, for a year while studying at Clare College of Cambridge University. She roomed with a delightfully eccentric Greek professor, Ms. A.K. Clarke. There was no refrigerator in the tiny flat and Nancy remembers having to put shillings into a heater to keep warm. “I rode my red bicycle everywhere,” Nancy says. “For our wedding, my parents flew Ms. Clarke over from England to attend and explore our part of the world. Her favorite event on that trip was the Crossett rodeo!”

Nancy’s earliest travel experience was to Cuba during the days before Fidel Castro. She went there with her mother and father to visit an attorney who had gone to Tulane with her mother.  “The people were beautiful and they always wore linen shirts and suits,” Nancy remembers. “The architecture was elaborate and soft in style and color.”

LOVE AND MARRIAGE

Nancy and Carrick met in the 6th grade and became close friends and remained so throughout high school and college. While she was involved with the Tigerettes, Carrick was playing a mean trombone for the Neville High School band.

When Carrick was a senior in law school, the two realized that the friendship that they had so enjoyed together had transformed into a deep love. Although Nancy says they are both opposites in many ways, they are “. . . mostly the same.” They married in August 1966 at a beautiful wedding officiated over by 6 priests and the future Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. 

After a lovely “at home” reception featuring a jazz band from New Orleans, the happy couple spent their wedding night at the Bastrop Motel and then, first thing the next day, honeymooned across the West as they drove to Long Beach, California, where Carrick would begin a new job at Douglas Aircraft. “Off we went in August driving our 1966 red, unairconditioned, stick shift car, pulling a U-Haul trailer,” Nancy laughingly remembers. Thus began a remarkable partnership between two remarkable people.

PARTNERS FOR LIFE

Over the years the two have been blessed with two children, son Carrick and his wife, Jessica and their children, Mary Snellings, Carrick, Jr., and Breard; and daughter Marie Louise and her husband David, and their two children, Corbin and George. All three generations share a love for travel, music, sports, and spending time together. The grands call Nancy and Carrick “Lovey” and “Pater” and relish their attention. 

Nancy and Carrick share a love for history which others in the family also share. Nancy was asked recently who (living or dead) she would love to share lunch with. Her answer: “Winston Churchill. I would love to listen to him talk about WWII.” But family times remain her favorites! When asked what living person she would love to share lunch with, her answer is just as immediate. “Anyone in my family! There is never enough time to talk about all the things we enjoy discussing – politics, traveling, grandchildren, gardening, and history.”

Some of their favorite activities are participating in school activities, sports, having dinner together often, fishing, wake boarding, and tubing on Bayou DeSiard. Nancy says that the children are a blend of their two personalities and are a source a great pride to her and to Carrick.

     Theirs has indeed been a partnership, recognized by a special gift from their daughter and son-in-law, Marie Louise and David, who gave them a bronze of two blue herons, a sculpture entitled “Partnership”. Nancy says this is a visual statement of her relationship with her husband. Each has supported the other in whatever direction their careers took them, sharing family responsibilities throughout. They not only love each other, but they like each other and enjoy being together in everything that they do. “We are best friends,” says Nancy.

ANOTHER DREAM COMES TRUE

  Most do not know that Nancy’s very successful real estate career (she’s now in her 30th year) began as a dream during high school. She “noticed” the real estate business, but considered it just a passing interest. She was wrong. 

     Nancy had several jobs, each of which helped her to grow. Her first was doing clerical work for Dr. J.W. Cummins and trying to soothe and comfort his patients. After college she worked at Louisiana Southern Life Insurance Company where she was responsible for interviewing and testing job applicants.  She even taught for several years at Neville while she was rearing their two children.

It wasn’t until 1991 that Nancy’s long interest in real estate translated into a new career. The late Sophia Blanks, a successful realtor in her own right, encouraged Nancy to pursue her dream. She and John Rea became important mentors for Nancy as she entered this new career. Their faith was not misplaced. Nancy was to become one of the most successful realtors in our region.

BUT THERE ARE OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS

Even as she juggled childrearing, a career, and the day-to-day responsibilities that come for a wife and mother, Nancy made time for volunteering. Organizations and groups that have benefited from her work include the Cerebral Palsy School (she has played piano since age 5 so she taught music to these children), Clara Hall School (she taught arts and crafts to deaf children), Grace Episcopal Church (formerly St. Christopher’s Episcopal Day school) as Board Chairman and member, the Monroe Symphony League, the Ouachita Parish Public Library (Board of Control Chairman), the United Way, the Monroe Garden Club, P.E.O., and the Junior League of Monroe (President and Ways and Means Chairman). “I would encourage others to volunteer,” Nancy explains. “Volunteering helps one realize the true needs of the community.”

This level of community involvement and giving spirit was evident as early as her high school years when she earned the Unselfish Servant Award from Lambda Sigma Chi sorority at Neville. At Newcomb College, she won the Pi Beta Phi Service Award. In 2010, her work as a volunteer throughout the community resulted in her receiving the Louise Seymour Award for Service to Others and Leadership in the Community. And in recognition of her leadership on the John Rea Realty team, Nancy earned the Spirit Award.  “The service awards touch my heart as nothing else can do,” Nancy says. “I have received many blessings and hope that I can continue to reach out and touch someone’s life every day.”

AND FOR THE FUTURE

Both Carrick and Nancy have seen Monroe change in many ways, but have been heartened by the community’s ability to adjust and regroup for the good of all even during hurricanes and similar adversities. Even with the restrictions on daily life that the pandemic has caused, they continue to view life as a blessing from which invaluable lessons may be learned.

It turns out that there is one area where their interests are not the same, and which in the future may provide a challenge. Carrick is well-known for his horticulture skills where perhaps his considerable gardening experience shows best through his propagation of staghorn ferns. At each annual Monroe Garden Club plant auction, Carrick’s donated staghorn always ignites a vigorous bidding war that brings top dollar to that organization. Nancy says that when she finally retires, she will resort in helping Carrick in his garden – an activity that she does think that she will enjoy!

What they will enjoy is continuing to meet new people and quietly doing for others. More trips to Colorado to enjoy hearing the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Symphony in Vail are at the top of their list of “to do’s” together with traveling in Europe running a close second. 

In many ways, Nancy’s life reflects words written by her WWII hero — Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill wrote, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” And what a life Nancy Snellings Inabnett has made!