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Column: Inspiring lessons taught by a wise woman


Published South Jeff Journal, June 2015

By Heather Berry

Nina Hershey may be one of the most inspiring women I’ve ever met. Ironically, as a retired teacher, she may find it surprising she taught me some life lessons without even realizing it.

  1. Smile and do it big.

I don’t think I have ever seen Nina Hershey when she wasn’t smiling.

That smile alone could light up Times Square.

Anyone who knows Nina will attest to her charismatic charm. Nina is one of those people who spreads a little circle of light wherever she goes. And, she is always on the GO.

  1. Help others and keep busy.

With umpteen volunteer activities, I was lucky to finally finish a community profile on Nina after months and months of my badgering (see Page 8). Luckily for all of us, there was some misunderstanding with a hair appointment and Nina wandered into the Journal office one morning last week with, unbelievably, NOTHING to do.

When she came home to Adams after 40 years away, she went to St. Cecilia’s and asked, “I asked where they needed the most help.”

  1. Be honest, but don’t condemn yourself.

I always feel like a better person after listening to Nina. I think it’s because Nina is “acceptance” personified. She accepts life and she accepts herself. Nina is simply Nina. She offers up the details of her life with this overwhelming acceptance of both the good and the bad.

  1. Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself.

Nina Hershey has had to reinvent herself several times over in this single lifetime.

I guess that’s what inspired me the most after our conversation. Nina’s life didn’t turn out as she had planned. There were some shocking potholes which could have derailed her spirit.

But, from where I’m sitting, she appears to have accepted those bumps with large dose of grace and put her energies into staying busy and focused outside of herself.

  1. The return on helping others is priceless.

When Nina took in a Japanese exchange student, she was given a unique opportunity to visit Japan. When Nina decided to move home to help her aging parents, she was given a new life with a swarm of new friends, new activities and a myriad of interesting things to keep busy. She has traveled to far off countries and regions of this country which would make Eugene Fodor envious. Nina’s life seems to be a fairly obvious example of how giving leads to countless and unimagined rewards.

I would have had more than five lessons, however, Nina was late for a game of Mahjong with an elderly woman who is confined and can’t find anyone who knows how to play the game.