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“Nancy with the red hair”

Family, friends remember Mulholland for strong civic, social engagement — and her signature red hair.

October 25, 2017
Jessica Salmond - News Editor (jsalmond@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Nancy Mulholland wasn't one to sit around.

After Mulholland and her husband John retired to Fort Myers Beach, John got involved in local government and Nancy got involved in civic life.

It all started with an international service organization called the Pilot Club - which she then helped nurture into the Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation.

Article Photos

This photo from 2000 of Nancy Mulholland getting showered by kisses from Tulip, the neighbor's dog, is one of daughter Laura Bozer's favorites of her mother. “My mom was funny, she loved to laugh,” Bozer said. “She saw the good in everybody.”
Courtesy photo

"She was invaluable," said her friend, Anita Cereceda. "She knew the beginnings of it all, where it started. She was the link to the past and active in the present for those organizations."

Mulholland died Sept. 19 in New Jersey with her family after a two-year fight with cancer.

Besides the Community Foundation, Mulholland worked at Cereceda's Local Color, was a member of the Page Turners Book Club and Chapel by the Sea, traveled almost every year and was always involved in local event planning.

Laura Bozer, her middle daughter, remembers coming to spend time with her last year during a bout of pneumonia. There wasn't much resting.

"People were constantly in and out, dropping of checks for this, organizing for that event," she said. "She was very involved."

The Community Foundation's goal is to work to improve the quality of life on Fort Myers Beach and the surrounding area. Lois Parker, one of Mulholland's close friends, said she really devoted her time to the organization. From helping set up a butterfly garden at the Fort Myers beach Elementary School to organizing the foundation's annual fashion show or beach ball, she was always in the heart of the group's efforts.

"She really put herself into anything she did," Parker said. "She liked what (the group) was doing and the camaraderie of the women. We've got a great group."

Mulholland's dedication and determination reached deeper than civic engagement. She had a very strong love for her friends and family. Once you were Nancy's friend, you were a friend for life.

Bozer said Mulholland worked hard to raise her three girls as a single divorcee in the 1970s, at a time when being a single mother was a hardship on many levels.

"She did what she had to do to raise us," Bozer said.

Her mother was born in East Orange, New Jersey, but spent a lot of her time in the state in Ridgewood, just north of her birth city. Bozer said no matter where her mother moved, Mulholland always maintained strong connections with her friends there.

"She was always very involved socially, and had everlasting good relationships," Bozer said.

Nancy and John Mulholland were married in 1986 and decided to move to Florida more than 20 years ago. Despite being away from her family, Mulholland was very active and engaged with her children and grandchildren. John had his own children and grandchildren, and Nancy made sure to get involved with them as well, Bozer said.

On Fort Myers Beach, she also developed and maintained a network of intimate friends. Parker, who lives only around the corner from Mulholland, said she and Nancy would talk on the phone almost every day. The two organized cruises every year to traverse the Caribbean and used to walk from their homes on Seminole Way and Dundee over the Matanzas Pass Bridge and back.

Mulholland worked at Local Color for years and was Cereceda's first employee. Cereceda said she can remember her mother and Mulholland helping her the night before the shop was to open, steaming clothes.

"Her sense of community and dedication and loyalty to her friends and family is something that sets her apart," Cereceda said.

Everyone always knew Nancy from her red hair, both Cereceda and Bozer agreed. Cereceda said it lent itself to her "feisty" personality; Bozer said everyone called her "Nancy with the red hair."

"I think Nancy is one of those women you'll never forget," Cereceda. "I loved her with all my heart. She had great friends because she was a great friend."

Nancy Mulholland is survived by daughter and son-in-law Deborah and Nick Peloso; daughter and son-in-law Laura and Steve Bozer; daughter and son-in-law Lynda and Dan DeFrancesco; brother Raymond "Chris" Gill; and grandchildren Nicole Peloso, Zachary Bartelt and Madison DeFrancesco.

A memorial service will be held at Chapel by the Sea Presbyterian Church on Fort Myers Beach at 10 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 11, followed by a reception at the Women's Club at 175 Sterling Ave., Fort Myers Beach. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Nancy's memory to Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation, P.O. Box 2834, Fort Myers Beach FL 33932 or Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation, 5204 Paylor Lane, Sarasota FL 34240 (payable to "FCS Foundation" or online donations at foundation.flcancer.com).

 
 

 

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