Nancy “Nan” Davis Rentz

Nancy Rentz Obit Picture

Nancy “Nan” Davis Rentz, a longtime educator in Waco, was pronounced dead on Saturday, September 17, after a fall at her home. She was 78.

Nan grew up in rural America with her older sister Marijane and younger brother Al on a small farm in Seagoville, a Dallas suburb that she described in her personal writings as “a small town where very ordinary people settled” and that “ because of their ordinariness, radiated kindness and humanity.” Her parents, Tom and Marsiliet Davis, had 15 acres, cows, chickens, pigs and a horse. Her dad worked at the local Ford plant and her mother was a noted card player and organic gardener.

Nan attended Seagoville High School where she became a superstar basketball player and cheerleader, forging lasting bonds with her classmates. “Nan was the pretty, petite, fun-loving sister who loved to ride horses and was always more adventurous than my parents or I,” Marijane said. “That never did leave her. She kept that going despite many recent health obstacles.”

After graduation in 1962, Nan attended secretarial school in Dallas, where she watched President John F. Kennedy take his last drive, and then worked at a law firm for a year until her employer encouraged her to go to college and helped her secure a working scholarship to study education at Baylor University.

Nan would become a lifelong teacher and learner, obtaining her BA in education from Baylor in 1967, and 40 years later, at the age of 63, a doctorate from Baylor in educational psychology. In between, she taught English at Robinson, McGregor and Bruceville-Eddy high schools, while taking some time off to raise her two daughters Rebecca and Catherine and mentor other young girls. She later was an adjunct professor at Baylor and McLennan Community College. When she wasn’t in school, she was constantly reading, journaling or attending plays, church at DaySpring, and lectures by visiting writers and poets.

Nan married her late husband, George “Stanley” Rentz, while attending Baylor in 1966. The two shared a passion for all things family and Baylor. They loved going to sporting events and being part of the “most exclusive” Fano poetry club that is related to the Armstrong Browning Library. Above all, they loved taking family road trips, especially the yearly camping and tubing trip along the Frio River in Concan, Texas.

“Our camping trips were the best of times and the worst of times, meaning there were ridiculously awkward and difficult times but also absolutely wonderful times,” she wrote in one of her recent memoir writings describing one “funny” trip where the family had forgotten tent poles, and strung up the tent to a tree that managed to hold it through a stormy night.

Nan’s strongest passion was being a mother and grandmother and she was known for being so very generous and caring to her daughters and grandchildren.

“Mom loved her family, always saying how much she loved us and that she was proud of us — even when it felt like we were too old to be the subject of such affection,” said her oldest daughter, Rebecca Rentz.

Most of all, her daughters remember her for being remarkably good at developing friendships with anyone– it could be the server she met once at a restaurant out of town. Soon, you would hear they’ve been exchanging letters. She was known for breathing life into wherever she went. She’d decorate her homes with flowers from her gardens, orchestrate full renovations of homes she lived in, and always have background classical music on and treats ready for visitors.

Nan spent the last decade of her life care giving for Stanley who struggled with Alzheimer’s disease. Ever the student and teacher, she joined Alzheimer’s studies and participated in news stories to spread awareness and research.

After his passing on January 2, 2022, she slowly began rebuilding her life by reconnecting with old friends, joining more church activities and traveling again. On her last trip to a Rentz family reunion in Possum Kingdom Lake, when many found themselves overheated on a boat but without bathing suits, the near 80-year-old retiree was among the first to jump in the lake with all her clothes on and with a huge smile on her face.

“Mom always talked about her ordinary self, but she was extraordinary in so many parts of her life,” said her youngest daughter, Catherine Rentz. “We are trying to focus on carrying on her spirit of love, constant learning and joie de vivre in every possible way.”

She is survived by her two daughters, Rebecca Rentz of Houston, Texas, and Catherine Rentz of Maryland; one sister, Marijane Lusher of Bett, Mississippi; and four grandchildren.

A Memorial Service will be held at 10 a.m. September 26, at DaySpring Baptist Church 7900 Renewal Way, Waco, TX, 76712.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for you to reach out to write to a loved one and tell them you love them, take a continuing education class or do something unexpected and adventurous.

Donations in Nan’s honor to DaySpring Baptist Church of Waco, Texas, would also be an appropriate remembrance.


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Condolence Messages

  1. Nan lived a truly good life, as evidenced by her daughters and grandchildren. I treasure my encounters with her at Fox family events.

  2. Marijane,
    May God comfort and bless you and all remaining members of Nan’s family.
    Our prayer is for Nan to forever REST IN PEACE.

    Charles Dotson

  3. Nan and family,
    Nan was a wonderful person with a big heart!
    She and I both struggled with the losses of our spouses, but we received strength in visiting with each other during our grieving process.
    I was saddened to hear of her passing as she had made plans for the future in her new home.
    She was one of our dear classmates from Seagoville High School , class of ‘62.
    She was a strong believer in Jesus and her belief in Him for her future heavenly abode.
    May God blessings be on the remaining family members!
    She will be missed by many.
    Danny Cook

  4. Faye Lynn Brayson

    My Heart goes out to Nan’s family. She was an exemplary individual – gracious and kind to all. Fond memories of childhood and secretarial school.

  5. Ron and Nancy Miller

    God’s grace comfort and console all of you at this time of loss.

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