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1929 Nancy 2024

Nancy Grissom Self

May 18, 1929 — April 13, 2024

Nancy Grissom Self


May 18, 1929 – April 13, 2024


Nancy Grissom Self, 94, of Redlands, California, passed away peacefully in her home on April 13, 2024.

“Nan” was born on May 18, 1929, in Akron, Ohio, the only child of Albert Grissom and Kathryn Patterson Grissom.


Following her early education, she enrolled at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. While attending university, Nan became active in the Wesley Foundation. The leaders of the Wesley Foundation were Chuck and Louise Cooley, campus ministers. Nan recalled that, “through them I experienced unconditional love and acceptance for the first time in my life. I felt called to ministry, specifically to campus ministry.”


Following graduation from Ohio University she served as a short-term missionary in the US-2 program. Her assignment was the Frances de Pauw Home in Hollywood, California. The focus of her work was with 75 Hispanic women ranging in age from seventh grade through junior college.


Following her US-2 assignment Nan worked for a year with teenagers at the Akron YWCA. While she pondered seminary education she requested and received an assignment with the Board of Missions of the Methodist Church in New York. Her responsibilities included recruiting short-term missionaries through contacts with campus ministry programs on many college campuses. On one of her campus visits to Vanderbilt University she talked with campus ministers Joe Brown and Ruth Winfield Love, who directed her to Vanderbilt Divinity School. She was awarded a scholarship to attend.


The curriculum required an internship, and Nan was assigned to the Wesley Foundation at Vanderbilt. The president was Norman Self, a Navy ROTC scholarship student. Over the next two years they committed to a future together. On graduation day Norm was commissioned an ensign in the morning, they both graduated in the afternoon, and they were married that evening. Norm had a three year commitment to the Navy to fulfill and the newlyweds traveled first to Pensacola, Florida, and then to Long Beach, California, where they were active in the Belmont Heights Methodist Church.


In ongoing conversations with their pastor and the district superintendent they were encouraged to enroll at the Claremont School of Theology. Nan was one of four women students at the School of Theology. As they began their studies the couple was appointed, part-time, to the staff of the Los Altos Methodist Church and the Wesley Foundation at Cal-State Long Beach. They were both ordained deacons of the Methodist Church in 1961.


Following their graduation from the School of Theology in 1966 Norm was ordained an elder of the church. Nan was cautioned that if she pursued ordination as an elder it would jeopardize her husband’s career. She chose not to be ordained. The couple were appointed full-time to the Wesley Foundation at Cal-State Long Beach from 1966-1972.


Nan was active in both conference and denominational advocacy for women during the rise of the women’s movement. The birth of the United Methodist Church in 1968 provided opportunity for her to serve in the formation of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women of the United Methodist Church. Her leadership in that effort led to her appointment as co-director of the first executive secretariat. She continued in that role for 19 years and was instrumental in the election of the first woman bishop, and subsequent women bishops in the United Methodist Church. She was a beloved mentor for many women who became leaders of the United Methodist Church.


Nan and Norm were married for 28 years. They divorced in 1985 but remained life-long friends until Norm passed away in November of 2023.


Nan was ordained elder in the church in 1989. She was appointed as the pastor-in-charge of the University United Methodist Church where she served from 1991-1999. Mandatory retirement came at age 70, and Nan did not want to retire. She continued to serve by preaching, leading retreats, mediating difficult situations for congregations, and mentoring younger clergy, both women and men.


In a recent moment of reflection upon her many years of service and ministry she said, “I have lived some magic moments…”


A celebration of her life will take place on June 19, 2024, at 1:30 pm, at the First United Methodist Church of Redlands, California.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Nancy Grissom Self, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Upcoming Services

Celebration of Life

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Starts at 1:30 pm (Pacific time)

First United Methodist Church

1 East Olive Avenue, Redlands, CA 92373

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