Nancy Ethel Ahlstrom

April 18, 1930 ~ August 12, 2021 (age 91)



Nancy Ethel Ahlstrom (née Alexander) (April 18, 1930 - August 12, 2021)


Nancy, a loving wife, dedicated mother and grandmother, and long-time member of the Hamden and New Haven community, passed on August 12, 2021, surrounded by family in her home on Armory Street in Hamden, Connecticut.


Born in Indianapolis to Mary Jane Burton and Robert Cloyd Alexander, Nancy grew up in Indiana, Tennessee, Kansas, and Massachusetts before graduating from Manhasset High School in Long Island. She attended Bryn Mawr College where she studied archaeology and was awarded a post-graduate fellowship at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. On her way to Greece she fortuitously stopped in Paris. It was there, outside of her hotel, that she noticed a young Sydney Ahlstrom washing his Renault 4CV. They struck up a conversation, shared a meal that evening at the hotel restaurant, and exchanged a torrent of letters as their relationship took shape long distance. Their love for each other quickly filled their lives and they were married in Manhasset, Long Island in 1953 at Christ Episcopal Church where her father was the rector.


Nancy and Sydney settled in New Haven where Sydney was a professor of American and Religious History at Yale and Nancy worked as an editor for the Journal of Economic Geology. Together they raised four children, all of whom graduated from Hamden High School. Traveling in the family VW van, they explored Europe, living for a year each in Paris in 1964 and Munich in 1970 while Sydney was on sabbatical.


Nancy dedicated herself to her community. She helped lead the Yale University Women’s Organization (YUWO), audited readings for Recording for the Blind, presented her research at the North End Club, volunteered with Meals on Wheels, fostered friendships through her bridge group, nurtured life-long connections with Branford College’s Fellowship, and developed her green thumb with her Garden Club. She was an avid hostess and a talented cook, having studied with Julia Childs in Paris at L’École des Trois Gourmandes in 1964.


The daughter of an Espicopalian minister, Nancy’s faith animated her life. She and her family were members of Trinity Church on the Green for more than 60 years. She attended services regularly into old age, proudly parking in front and climbing the church’s noble steps rather than use the elevator. She was particularly appreciative of Minister Luk De Volder’s sermons.


Nancy’s husband Sydney died in 1984 at the age of 64 after a decade-long cognitive and physical decline, but Nancy did not retreat from the world. She continued to be an adventurous traveller and remained committed to her community. She remarried with Paul Ruthman in 1999, and together they embraced being grandparents, hosting her grandchildren for summer camps at the Eli Whitney Museum just down the street.

Nancy loved nothing more than gathering with her family, whether it be for Christmas dinner or a week on Cape Cod. Her ability to bring people together will be deeply missed.


Nancy was tough, independent, smart, resilient, and a little bit stubborn. Her legacy is her four children, Joseph Alexander “Sandy” (Cathy Quense), Promise Ann (James Gold), Constance Burton “Connie” (Andrew Weinstein), and Sydney Eckman “Syd” (Keely), as well as eight grandchildren, Maya, Aaron, Jonah, Oliver, Ian, Elana, James, and Syd III. All are better having known her, smarter having learned from her, and wiser having aged with her. She lived her life fully and died peacefully, her spirit finally at rest.


Please join the family and friends for the interment at Grove Street Cemetery on October 2, 2021 at 11:00am. Donations to Trinity Church to support their social programs and charitable outreach are both welcomed. 







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