A Celebration of the Life of The Honorable Nancy Harvey Fitch
First African American and Female Clerk of the City of Mount Vernon
Nancy Elizabeth Mariah Harvey Fitch was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina on November 7, 1919. Her parents were Deacon David and Deaconess Alsia Penola Zeigler who predeceased her. She moved to Scarsdale, NY and attended public school there, graduating from Scarsdale High School when she was 16 years old. While attending The City College of New York she studied Business Administration and met her future husband, Robert Franklin Fitch, II, who predeceased her. They were married at Union Baptist Church in Greenburgh in 1946. They are the parents of Nancy Elizabeth, Robert Franklin III (Roslyn), Kevin David (Jennifer) Fitch and grandson Saliym Surya (Geneva) Fitch, the son of Kevin, and Maliaka (Carol Word) Robinson.
The former Elizabeth Harvey was known as “Betty,” “Libby,” and by her family of cousins, she was “Cousin Elizabeth,” and “godmother” by her godchild. Her favorite title, however, in addition to “Mom” was “Ouma.” The name, meaning “Grandmother” in Affrikans, was selected by Saliym’s mother when he was born. Sister Fitch leaves to celebrate her memory, in addition to her immediate family, legends of cousins, goddaughter Shelby Lorraine Austin and members of the Austin Family, her childhood friend Mrs. Cornelia Evans, Ayana Adams and Arianna M’ selle, and friends and the leadership of Bethel Baptist Church.
Sister Fitch was Deputy City Clerk and then City Clerk of Mount Vernon - the first woman and African American in those positions. She was active in Municipal government leadership and in the political life of the state of New York, and in the national leadership of Black Republican organizations. She was also an active volunteer: a devoted member of National and Westchester County Urban Leagues and the Westchester Urban League Guild, from which she received her SO-year membership pin. She was Board Member-At-Large of The United Way of Westchester County, Inc. and a proud scout leader of her children’s Cub and Girl Scout troops. Sister Fitch was the recipient of The Magdelene Camey Humanitarian Award from the Spiritual Assembly of The Baha’i International Community of Mount Vernon, The Leadership Award from the Westchester Public/Private Membership Fund for Aging Services, the National Sojourner Truth Award for Meritorious Service from the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc., among other awards including being the first recipient of the Grace Baptist Church Award for Community Service. Some of her interests included Membership in the Mount Vernon-Vernon Heights Garden Club, earning several awards for her creations and as a young woman, before working in the federal government in Washington, D.C., as a stringer for the New York Amsterdam News, reporting on Westchester County social life. She also studied with the American Negro Theatre. After her marriage she became a proud member of the Wives’ Committee of the [storied] 369th.Veteran’s Association.
Over four decades ago, Sister Fitch, while a member of St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in Mount Vernon, organized the first Annual Women’s Day Program, a fundraising skill she learned in the Baptist church during her youth. Several years later, the now combined Episcopal churches in Mount Vernon, recognized her for her fundraising efforts, skills she learned as a young person at this church - Bethel Baptist Church. She rejoined the Baptist denomination while her mother was still alive, returning to Bethel and was a faithful member of the church until her recent passing.
This is where she was baptized as a child, sang in the youth choir, taught Sunday school, and was a junior usher. She was back home where the Rev. Dr. Edward O. Williamson has been her pastor-teacher, where her parents served as Deacon and member of the Eastern Stars, respectively. She was blessed to be a member of the Missionary Society and serve as Vice President, and where she might have been heard to say, “God is my constant companion and He knows my every need.” He knew on July the Fourth. We miss her surely, but may she be at peace, her work here is done, but her legacy is always with us.