Leader, Member Advocate, Visionary – Nancy Michelman Is Mourned

Nancy Michelman, President of BoatUS

On October 7, 2011, we lost an important member of our BoatUS family. BoatUS President and the Publisher of our magazines, Nancy Michelman, 60, lost her courageous battle with cancer.

This loss is a poignant one for our Association and for the Members whom she loved and worked for. Many of you have known Nancy through her letters to you, through meeting her at boat shows, and through our magazine, where she wrote a personal message to you in the front of every issue.

We’d like to tell you a little more about Nancy as the vibrant person whom we have been proud to call our colleague and friend. She was a rising star at the American Automobile Association (AAA) before she burst into our lives two decades ago, in the spring of 1989. From that moment on, Nancy became a vital part of an energetic team of young idealists who built BoatUS into the great boaters’ advocacy organization we’re all so proud of today, managing the growth of membership from 350,000 to 650,000, as we created the largest group of boaters in the world.

Nancy personified passion in everything she did – sailing and boats, theater, music, golf, writing, her family and friends, all things Spanish (she was fluent), and especially in her devotion to her adored husband, Laurence.

Nowhere, it seemed, was she more passionate than here at BoatUS, where she was a magnificent leader and mentor. In her role as President of BoatUS, she oversaw our Membership and Government Affairs Divisions, our magazines, and our website.

Nancy was a great public speaker, she loved reaching out to the industry, and meeting Members one on one. As she did with colleagues, she could make every Member feel like they were a really important part of something extraordinary, and that they were very special to her personally – because they were!

We pride ourselves on member service, the hallmark of BoatUS For Nancy, no question from a Member was too small, no concern too insignificant. She answered every single letter and email from Members. If someone wrote to say they disagreed with anything we were doing or saying, she often picked up the phone and called that Member to hear their perspective first hand. It wasn’t unusual for Nancy to call a few members at random and talk to them about policy issues or changes we were contemplating. But here’s the truly amazing part. A few months later, she often called them back, to let them know how the whole thing had turned out! She had the gift of that personal touch, and it was genuine.

In one of her editorials in the magazine last year, she even shared with Members that she had cancer, and used her own story to encourage them to live their lives to the fullest. Many of you shared your own stories and encouragement back to her, for which she was very grateful.

One of her most visible accomplishments can be seen in our flagship publication. As Publisher, her vision for BoatUS Magazine, our primary voice to our Members, was to make it even more dynamic, more personal, and more aspirational, believing that a strong magazine was critical to keep Members informed, and excited about their boating lives.

Another of her great legacies to BoatUS is the cadre of highly competent and creative managers who will lead our Boat Owners Association of The United States to greater success than even she imagined. She taught her team well, believed in them, and inspired excellence. They are in place, carrying on what she started, and will always be here for you.

An Unexpected Journey

By Nancy Michelman From BoatUS Magazine December 2010

December is always the time when we reflect on how the past year has gone, and our hopes for the future.

BoatUS, we’re thankful to have survived the economic ups and downs, the Gulf oil spill, the hurricanes and tornadoes, the government rules and regulations, the list goes on — many challenges, yes, and at the same time, much for which we’re grateful.

I’ve been on a journey of my own this year, one I hadn’t planned embarking upon — as I battle a rare cancer for which I’m receiving chemotherapy. Read More…


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Posted By: Leigh Ann on
Happy Birthday!
Posted By: Leigh Ann Grow on
We miss you!
Posted By: Chris Urbanek on
She will be missed :(
Posted By: Ira Dwoskin on
HHere is a poem by David Harkins You can shed tears that she is gone or you can smile because she has lived. You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left. Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her or you can be full of the love you shared. You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday. You can remember her and only that she’s gone or you can cherish her memory and let it live on. You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back or you can do what she’d want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
Posted By: Alan Forino on
As I continue my struggle with cancer, I will miss that smiling face at West Marine University. I'm sure she is looking down at us and saying make sure you wear your lifejacket.
Posted By: Victor J. Morris II on
I really enjoyed reading the magazines and stories to made me a safer an better boater. She will surely be missied. My condolences and prayers go out to her family and all of the Boat U.S. family. R.I.P. Nancy
Posted By: David Herron on
What a wonderful, vibrant woman. I really wish I could have met her!!!
Posted By: David Herron on
What a wonderful, vibrant woman. I really wish I could have met her!!!
Posted By: Doug Buskers on
I first met Nancy a few years before she started her rise at Boat US. When she started I knew any problems would be taken care of and the future would be brighter because of her. I didn't know her well but i will miss her at the helm.
Posted By: Amy & Rusty on
Nancy, our fabulous memories of you will never fade. Thanks for guiding us for so many years and giving us side-splitting laughter along the way. Until we meet again...you will be dearly missed.
Posted By: Tina Savoy on
May God Bless your soul the way you BLESSED others!! Nancy made me who I am today and I am VERY Thankful to have known her! Rest in Pease Nancy!
Posted By: Thomas G. Sanderson on
Nancy, Thank-you for all your hard work and devotion through the years contributing to a wonderful magazine (BoatUS), our prayers are with you and your family. TGS-NJ
Posted By: Jennifer Vanderveld on
Nancy - you inspired many and gave us all the strength to go further. Thank you for what you taught us. We will keep your spirit alive in each of us.
Posted By: John Jefferies on
May God keep her soul in His eternal and loving arms.
Posted By: Libby Ann on
BoatUS was very Blessed to have Nancy, as are we. It was rare and so refreshing to have a "Lady" leading the role of the wonderful world of boating...Sail on Nancy, until we meet again.
Posted By: charlene on
Nancy's next journey will likely be as interesting and fulfilling as her last; perhaps even more so. To the sad ones left behind for now, may you take solace in the blessing her time with you and comfort from her memory
Posted By: tony on
What a great lady. I wish I had met her. I've been a boatus member for many years and have sailed the same waters as Nancy in the Chesapeake and the Carribean. God bless her and her family
Posted By: charlene on
Nancy's next journey will likely be as interesting and fulfilling as her last; perhaps even more so. To the sad ones left behind for now, may you take solace in the blessing her time with you and comfort from her memory
Posted By: Ingrid Wynn on
My prayers and thoughts are with the family of Nancy. I pray God gives you strength as you cope with your loss and comfort in knowing she is in a better place and no longer in pain.
Posted By: Woody Arenas on
Nancy was one of a kind. She inspired many and will be missed by all who knew her. My condolences to her family, and especially her BoatU.S. family!
Posted By: Ron Strain, CFEI on
Nancy Michelman, obviously, was a very special woman. Sorry I never had the opportunity to know her. My deepest condolences to all in my friends in the Boat US family as Nancy continues to sail on different seas.
Posted By: Capt Steve Johnson (R) on
Fair winds and following seas Nancy. And to all of the rest of you at U.S. Boat for keeping us a part of the 'Family'.
Posted By: Master Chief Joe Diaz on
I struck 8 bells on the ship's bell of the Spanish Fly and with my Boatswain's pipe, piped Nancy "over the side" down here in Peru. Thanks Nancy for bringing me to BoatUS.
Posted By: Capt Frank W Zadina on
I was saddened to hear of Ms Michelman's passing...her leadership will be greatly missed. May God's comfort go to her and her family
Posted By: Cynthia Barone on
Prayers to Nancy's Family.Reading about Nancy she was a courageous strong and driven woman. What a great loss for her family and BoatUS.Rest in Peace Nancy you will be greatly missed <3
Posted By: BARRY on
I was so glad to see a "Lady" at the helm rather than pulling up the anchor or tying up the boat,I lost my "mate" on fathers day so i can feel your pain,God Bless You All
Posted By: Steve Gross on
What a blessing to have had Nancy with us! I want all the best for all of you who carry on without her physical presence.
Posted By: Wesley Hopper on
I did not know Nancy, but after reading about her I came to a quick resolve that I did know here. She is just like a friend or even a family member. I read her letters over the spring and summer not knowing it was her that wrote them. I know you all have an empty void in your hearts and I feel sadness as well to hear of her passing. Her family will be in my prayers and all of the staff as well during this time.
Posted By: Kevin Hutchinson on
I have never had the pleasure of meeting Nancy but have enjoyed reading her letter and the BoatUS magazine religiously for the past 9 years. I always thought the smile in her picture matched the words she put to pen. To her family, friends and coworkers please know we have you in our thoughts and prayers.
Posted By: Diane on
Leslie shared Nancy's journey with me....and I have been thinking of her frequently. I know she was beloved by so many.
Posted By: Johnny Zamora on
To her family, be strong. To her friends, I feel your loss. To her members, we lost a great leader. From Everyone, Your Voyage continues, see you soon.
Posted By: Ken Koenitzer on
Even though I do not own a boat yet I have subscribed to the magazine for years. Her devotion to the boating families was inspirational. My thoughts and prayers are with her and her family.
Posted By: Paul Twardy on
So sorry to read about Nancy losing her battle to that awful disease.She was a great representative for boaters everywhere and will be missed.
Posted By: al marcellino on
sincere condolences
Posted By: Catherine on
My thoughts and prayers to Nancy family and friends,
Posted By: T. Fred Wright on
My condolences to the BoatUS and Michelman familes.
Posted By: Juan De Maqua on
My condolences to Nancy's family and friends, She is now saling to Heaven and resting in peace.
Posted By: Gary on
Nancy, God Bless you! May you rest in peace. Thank You for the messages left to all of us in BoatUS Mag. As I and all of us will keep you and your family close to our hearts. Please watch over all US boaters and keep them safe. Sail on!!
Posted By: Eleno Corbo Sr. on
I feel for her family and friends I lost my sister on 09-11 of this year to cancer also.
Posted By: Tom Magyar on
Sorry to hear about Nancy today. I've thought about her with every new issue of the magazine. I'll miss her articles. Cancer SUCKS.
Posted By: Timothy Warren on
Sorry for your loss,I can understand your feelings of lossing a loved one to cancer.Ya'll will be in our prayers
Posted By: John Gresham on
While I never met Nancy, I always recognized her face as the first one I saw on my monthly Boat US Magazine. I am very sorry for the loss of Nancy and my sympathies go out to her family and friends.
Posted By: Cap. Tony Ramos on
Como miembro siempre reconoci en ti una gran leder que me hubiera podido conocer.Todos necesitamos de tus consejos y forma de ver el mar y los botes,gracias por Boat US,siempre te recordaremos y algun dia llevare tus ideales a la patria que perdi,Cuba.Que descanses en paz y mis condolencias a tu esposo y a todos los miembros de Boat US
Posted By: Paul Rawl on
my condolences to the family for your great loss. May God comfort and keep you. Sail on Nancy, upon that crystal sea.
Posted By: Capt. Seacraft on
I have to say Nancy will always be dear to all of our hearts. She'll be Trolling her Huge Grady White through the Oceans of Heaven now in pursuit of that Trophy Salmon she always wanted to catch! Rest In Peace Nancy.... Thank you for all you have done for us....Your Friends and Fellow Boaters!
Posted By: Jerry Smith on
It is fortunate that BoatUS has such a large membership, because, if each of us tries just a bit harder each day, we may in part fill the void of loss we have experienced in the passing of Nancy Michelman.
Posted By: Bill Hominick on
Enjoyed her articles and especially her dedication to the membership. My condolences to her family which includes all BoatUS.
Posted By: P/C Dennis M. Raetzel AP on
I am so sorry to hear of Nancy,s passing.She was a Great Leader. I faithfully would read her letters to the members in every publication. My thoughts & prayers to her family. She will be missed.
Posted By: joseph pauldine on
My prayers for Nancy's husband. May the Lord show himself a very present help and comforter to him at this time.
Posted By: Anita & Brent Hunsaker on
Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family. She was an amazing woman and blessed to have so many people who loved and admired her,
Posted By: Artie Shaw on
My sympathies to her husband and family. I always enjoyed her articles.
Posted By: Al & Bill (TowBoatUS- Lake Hartwell on
Sad Day. Nancy was always GREAT to us. Helped us anyway she could. Just a wonderful lady; made BoatUS work. Hate to see her go. God Speed., Dear Nancy
Posted By: Jerome & Ellen on
So sorry to hear of Nancy's passing. Reading her Letter from the President column was like being at the marina dock talking to close friends. Our sympathies & prayers go out to her family & friends
Posted By: David W. Wine on
My condolences to Nancy's family and coworkers.Thank You Nancy for all that you have done for boaters and Boat/US.You will be greatly missed.
Posted By: Brad Hampton on
I speak for all of us at YachtPals.com in saying that the boating community has lost one of our best and brightest, and our hearts are with Nancy's family. Fair Winds in your next journey, Nancy.
Posted By: Pam Stanley on
What a wonderful lady who I was only able to spend a few hours with but who left a lasting impression with me. The world is a better place for having Nancy even for such a short time.
Posted By: Peter on
Nancy set the perfect example in success and in her time of struggle, living life to its fullest! Peace to Nancy and her family.
Posted By: RJ Cristello on
What a sad day for all of us. I wish I didn't open my email today as the news of Nancy"s passing is very hard to deal with. I sure enjoyed her messages and comments. Our prayers go out to her family and friends and all the people she touched. God bless Nancy. I guess she was needed to keep the helm steady in Heaven.
Posted By: grace on
didnt know nancy,,but my heart goes out to family,, I know what it feels like to lose someone to cancer,,, we lost our son,, and the heartache is terrible,,,
Posted By: ERICKA on
My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends.
Posted By: Larry and Anne on
So sad to hear this. She will be missed by all.
Posted By: Sally Helme on
Nancy has left boating and the boating industry a better place than she found it, and she will always be remembered for that. All of Nancy's family, friends and colleagues at BoatUS will be in our thoughts and prayers during these difficult days. With sincere condolences from all of us at Cruising World and Sailing World,
Posted By: Jamey on
My family extends synpathy to the family of Nancy, my wife and I loved her articles, she gave me strenth as I once battled cancer myself, she will be missed but will always be at sea!
Posted By: Christy Martin on
Ms. Michelson's legacy is inspiring people she didn't even know...like me. Her passion for boating and what it can do for families, especially kids, played a role in my launching Life on the Water. Our prayers are with Nancy's family...and the management and staff at BoatU.S. But know you've been blessed to have worked with a wonderful spirit on the water.
Posted By: Joe Williams on
To the family God Bless and may the lord give you peace in your time of sorrow
Posted By: Dennis Wolfe on
It is hard losing leaders like you Nancy, but your ever-present spirit drives all who knew you to seek out others like you and strive for self improvement. Thank you. My prayers to you and your family.
Posted By: Bob May, GM KDKD AM/FM & KXEA FM on
The Captain of the BOAT US Ship will be missed. Much thanks for all your contributions and god bless you and your family and the family at BOAT US. Bob and Mo
Posted By: Bruce White on
Deepest condolences to her loved ones and BoatU.S. family members from her boating partners in the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Posted By: Bob Glogow on
Sometimes a person's smile says a lot about their personality, even their soul. Nancy, your smile conveyed such great warmth, good cheer, and thoughtfulness. Many thanks for all your contributions to those of us who love to be on the water. May you rest in peace.
Posted By: aurore maren on
Thank you to all at Boat US for celebrating the life, and mourning the loss, and encouraging the Present through the journey of Nancy Michelman..as water ebbs and flows.
Posted By: Fred Kuepper on
I can not think of any more of a wonderful tribute to Nancy and BoatUSA, than all the wonderful things that have been written here. She will be missed. Deepest condolences to her family and friends, and co-workers.
Posted By: Chris Evenson on
Sending strength,courage and prayers to Nancy's family. The sadness is overwhelming for the ones left here.
Posted By: Gino Jorgensen on
RIP Nancy. May the waves in heaven treat you kind.
Posted By: John Malatak on
Rest in Peace my friend . You contributed much to our lives and to recreational boating. Your leadership at BoatUS was stellar, I am proud to call you friend and colleague. Your legacy at BoatUS will live on!
Posted By: Marsha Winkler on
Our Prayers go out to Nancy's family and to Boat US.
Posted By: Neil Doran on
Thank you, Nancy. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Posted By: Patricia Schachner on
Nancy Michelman's history enriches others. My condolences to her family and colleagues. Her expressed attitudes were gifts to all fortunate to be privy to them. Thank you for sharing with us.
Posted By: Anya Shortridge on
What a sad day! Nancy – You put up a hard fight. Be at peace now. We've been part of the Boat US family for 14 years. Our warmest thoughts and sincere condolences go out to Richard and Bill and Nancy's family & friends during this extremely difficult time. Ken & Anya Ashes on the Sea San Diego CA
Posted By: Nancy Birnbaum on
Nancy will continue to be an inspiration to myself and many other women sailors. She left us far too soon, but she will remain in my heart and will be missed.
Posted By: Paul on
Sad news condolences to the family and boat us
Posted By: Bill Hobbs on
I will always remember Nancy as always smiling and her great inspiration she gave all us BoatU.S. towers at every conference every year. With her humor she would always keep everyones attention, and will be missed
Posted By: Bonnie Basham on
I recall her bright eyes and ever-present smile when I think of Nancy. Things were never about her - they were always about "us" in whatever group she found herself. She was a leader who reveled in her staff's accomplishments. She was an inspiration and a mentor for so many people - those she knew and those, who like myself, were inspired by her from a distance. My prayers are for Nancy, her family, her staff and all BoatUS members. Her boat has taken her to another shore. She is gone from our sight but not from our hearts.
Posted By: Jack Perry on
I saved her video on my iPad on the proper use fo PFDs.it helps with all my grandchildren,she did a great job she will be missed may you RIP
Posted By: Jim Willliams on
Nancy will be missed. I had enjoyed visiting with her over the years as I have know her since 1995. She was a good friend. I am so sorry for the loss.
Posted By: Neil Doran on
Thank you, Nancy. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Posted By: Jim Daugherty on
Sadden to hear of the passing of Nancy. My condolences to the staff of Boat U.S.
Posted By: Melisa Malashevitz on
As a fellow woman sailor and one whose Mom is currently fighting cancer, please pass on my condolences to her family. Boat US will surely miss this dynamic woman. May she find peace on the seas of heaven.
Posted By: Jack Perry on
I saved her video on my iPad on the proper use fo PFDs.it helps with all my grandchildren,she did a great job she will be missed may you RIP
Posted By: A.J. Aleixo on
Nancy, although I never got the opportunity to talk with you, You lived your life well, my dear. You left this place better than you found it. Boat US and people around the country will miss your presence. Thank you for making Boat USwhat it is today. I speak with you now as if you are reading this because your legacy will continue to live through every boater who sets foot on their deck to embark out into the open water, not unlike what you have done now. You will forever be part of this amazing group of people of mariners and your love for this planets people and water ways will also be forever felt. To your family whom you have left ( for now) my thoughts and prayers are with you. May you find strength in knowing Nancy is with us all everyday, guiding us through rough waters and now you need only to look skyward when you wish to speak to her. Godspeed Nancy, Thank you for all you have done and all you are!
Posted By: Bill Carson on
I am so thankful to have had an opportunity to meet Nancy....she was the "real" deal and will be missed sorely. My condolences to her family and "team mates".
Posted By: Dean Travis Clarke on
I am so very sorry for all of us left behind and ma honestly thrilled for Nancy. She was vibrant and energetic and hated what had been afflicting her. ANd above all, she was an adventurer. Truly believing that our spirits move on to some other plane or dimension, Nancy's new experience constitutes perhaps life's grandest adventure. She was one of those rare females who truly influenced our industry and she did it with impeccable charm and grace. See you soon, Nancy.
Posted By: Lawrence A. Husick on
Nancy's caring and support when my father, Chuck Husick died last year were so appreciated. Our family sends our condolences to hers.
Posted By: Jeri Levesque on
Nancy showed the maritime world that women were more than galley cooks, figureheads on bowsprits, and eye candy. Boat US magazine has grown more vibrant every issue with her signature personalization. As a pink ribbon survivor and sailor, my world is less interesting without her aboard.
Posted By: Frank Brown on
I still use the video Nancy produced to push harder for proper use of PFDs, especially for the young folks she so dearly loved. Her commitment and passion for safe boating was evident in all she did. RIP.