Nancy Ann McGinnis Handlan

October 1, 1936 - August 17, 2018
Nancy Ann McGinnis Handlan

Nancy Ann McGinnis Handlan, age 81, passed away peacefully on Friday, August 17, 2018 at the Davis Healthcare Center in Wilmington, NC with two of her granddaughters, Kerstin and Mychaela, by her side.

She was born to Paul Sherman McGinnis and Sidney Bacon McGinnis on October 1, 1936 in Kansas City, Missouri, and was the youngest of three children.

She married Edwin Eugene Hess, Jr. at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Kansas City in 1956. She met Ed while they were both students at the University of Missouri. They quickly began their family having their first child, Elizabeth in 1957. They went on to have two other children, and Ed enjoyed his career as an electrical engineer. They relocated to Parkersburg, WV in 1967 when Ed took a new job with A.B. Chance. Nancy was unexpectedly widowed in 1970. She found comfort in her home church, Trinity Episcopal Church, and this is where she met her second husband, Joseph Martin Handlan III, a well respected lawyer. Nancy and Joe combined her three children and his five children to create a blended family. After Joe’s retirement from being a judge they relocated to Wilmington, NC in 1990.

Nancy received a Bachelor’s of Arts, Summa Cum Laude, from Marietta College of Ohio in 1977. She worked as an art teacher at Jackson Junior High School in Vienna, WV for five years. She went on to receive her Master’s of Arts in Communications from West Virginia University in 1984. She was an accomplished watercolor artist gaining signature status with several esteemed organizations. She was a signature member of: National Watercolor Society, Transparent Watercolor Society of America, Watercolor USA Honor Society, Watercolor Society of North Carolina, National Kentucky Watercolor Society, National Missouri Watercolor Society, National Watercolor Oklahoma, Taos National Society of Watercolorists, Whiskey Painters of America, and a founding member of the West Virginia Watercolor Society. She had associate memberships with the American Watercolor Society and Wilmington Art Association.

Along with being an exceptional artist; Nancy was a skilled pianist, exceptional game player, avid mini golfer, curious traveler, and experienced trout fisherwoman. She had a spunk and zeal for life unmatched by most.

Nancy is survived by her children: Elizabeth Henley, Clifford Hess, Carolyn (Les) Brown; step-children: Joseph (Terry) Handlan IV, Allen (Elizabeth) Handlan, Stuart (Linda) Handlan, Elizabeth (Craig) Wilton, and Patricia (Charles) Harman; grandchildren: Lindsey Hess, William and Melissa Henley, Kerstin and Mychaela Brown; siblings: Maj. Gen. Charles Irving McGinnis (USA Ret.), John Franklin (Margot) McGinnis; and many nieces, nephews, step grand and great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents and two husbands.

A Memorial Service will be held at 2 pm on Saturday, September 8th at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1219 Forest Hills Dr., Wilmington, NC 28403. Her final resting place will be in Kansas City, Mo at her childhood church.

Special thanks and gratitude to the staff at The Davis Community – Haven House who became a second family not only to Nancy, but also to her immediate family. In lieu of flowers: memorials can be made in Nancy’s name to the Wilmington Art Association, P.O. Box 3033, Azalea Station, Wilmington, NC 28406.

Please share memories and condolences with the family by clicking on the “Post a Condolence” tab below.

Wilmington Funeral & Cremation, 1535 S.41st Street Wilmington, NC 28403. 910.791.9099.


Purchase Flowers

Tribute Wall

Please feel free to sign the guestbook or share a memory



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • August 20, 2018
    Mike Whaley says:
    I am fortunate to have one if Nancy’s watercolors. Enjoyed working for her and the judge

  • August 21, 2018
    Barbara Wright says:
    I had the good fortune of teaching alongside Nancy at Jackson Junior High. She had this wonderful enthusiasm for life and teaching that made work a fun place to be. I will forever remember that beautiful smile and the time we spent together. Rest in Peace Nancy. You made the world a more colorful beautiful place!

  • August 21, 2018
    Dava Dahlgran says:
    Nancy was a very special lady and always so ready for an adventure in art. She prodded me to take chances and have trust in my own art life. And we had fun at fairs and shows. I owe her a lot and remember her with love. Her watercolors are glorious!

  • August 21, 2018
    Monty McGinnis says:
    In about 1952 our family was in Kansas City for a McGinnis family gathering. The adults went out to dinner so Cousin Nancy got to be the baby sitter for Marty, Monty and Jeanne. I was 9yrs old and thought Nancy, at 16 was pretty cool. We looked up to her then and continued to follow her as a role model for the last 66 years. We’ve missed her recently and know she will be missed by many whose lives she’s touched. Sue and I send our love and prayers to her and her family. Monty and Sue McGinnis

  • August 21, 2018
    Cassie Engle Stout says:
    Clifford, It is obvious you inherited incredible natural talent from your Mother! You and your siblings were blessed and made her proud. I know your heart is filled with Precious memories to hold. Sincerely, Cassie Engle FL