Nancy Gobatto was not only a knowledgeable and gifted professor, but she was a mentor and a good friend to many of us at UWindsor. Our entire community was shocked and saddened to hear of Nancy’s sudden death on August 13, 2016. Nancy has a legendary reputation for her feminist knowledge, for her personal anecdotes, and perhaps above all for her love and devotion for social justice.
In memory of Nancy, Women’s and Gender Studies created a Facebook page for the community to share their memories. The comments left on this page speak to the level of appreciation felt by those whose lives were impacted by Nancy and say more than I could ever convey in this article.
“You were kind, brilliant, loyal, and the best listener! I’m so grateful for all the kindness you showed me. You were generous, compassionate, critical and courageous. Your absence will be deeply felt. My condolences to all who loved you.”
“Ten years ago the courses I took with Nancy ignited my passion for feminism and would inspire me to eventually earn my PhD. in women’s studies. My sincerest condolences to all who knew her.”
“Thank you for helping my love of Women’s studies thrive, and opening my eyes to a new world… learning through you put a determination in my heart, to fight for justice and equality for all. You will always be remembered for that.”
For me, it was Nancy who guided my learning inside and outside of the classroom. She taught me my first Women’s Studies course in my first year, and it was in that classroom where I discovered and refined my feminist identity. Nancy gave me the knowledge, courage, and support that kept me confident throughout my undergraduate journey. The wisdom and knowledge I gained from Nancy will always be fundamental for my understanding of the world.
Little did I know, I would be given the honour of working alongside Nancy as her teaching assistant. Every semester, around the time TA applications would be due, Nancy sent me a text message to remind me that the application deadlines were coming up. You see, Nancy had a magical way of making everyone she knew feel important and validated.
It was the Tuesday before Nancy’s passing that I last saw her. I had popped my head into her office, and as usual, she was at her desk. We spoke about her new course that she was prepping for and I told her that I was nervous about graduate school applications. The conversation we had that afternoon is one I will never forget, not because it would be the last time I spoke to Nancy, but because I left her office feeling confident and motivated. In many ways, Nancy taught me to give second chances, to never judge a book by its cover, and to believe in myself. That is why I, like countless others, am grateful to have known her.
It is no surprise that the Women’s and Gender Studies program has created the Nancy Gobatto Fund — a fund that will support the Walls to Bridges project, which is an initiative to provide criminalized individuals a university education. The fund will offer bursaries for course materials and other expenses that may limit individuals from accessing the project (something Nancy would have promoted). Walls to Bridges will launch in September 2017. To make a donation visit https://my.uwindsor.ca/web/uw/donations# and indicate that the donation is in honour of Nancy Gobatto and directed to the Nancy Gobatto Fund.
Rest in peace, Nancy. <3