4/12/1934 – 7/30/2017
Our wonderful mother Nancy Saillant, founder of Carpinteria Creative Arts, friend to all and the center of gravity in our family, died of pneumonia and congestive heart failure July 30 at a hospital in East Los Angeles.
Nancy, 83, lived in Carpinteria for 25 years. She loved the beach, watching sunsets and the strong sense of community that she found here. Last year she returned to her San Fernando Valley home to care for her ailing husband.
With her snowy white hair, ready smile and sympathetic ear, Nancy was a familiar figure in her adopted coastal city, attending community events, handing out food samples at the local grocery store and manning her seashell crafts table at the weekly Farmer’s Market. She loved people, any kind of party and a stiff vodka martini.
Nancy made shell crafts but found that, due to state restrictions, she could not sell them at the weekly Farmer’s Market. So in 2003 she and two other artisans founded Carpinteria Creative Arts, a nonprofit that provided a low-cost way for local artisans to sell their wares. She was on CCA’s board for 13 years.
“It was our only way of selling our stuff,’’ said Katrina Copeland, a Carpinteria resident who sells shawls and jewelry. “It could be expensive to pay for a booth at a street fair. But CCA was only $30 to join and $10 a week.”
Louise Sciutto, CCA’s president, said Nancy came up with the idea of selling inexpensive grab bags and that they became a staple of the CCA weekly market. “Nancy loved having kids come to her table for those bags,’’ Sciutto said. “Kids still ask about them today.”
Nancy’s own health began to falter after she returned to her husband’s side. But in a late-in-life blessing, reuniting with Richard “Dick” Saillant rekindled their 62-year marriage and she spent her final months sharing affections and memories of the life they had shared. Nancy’s decision to go home showed her family that sacrifice is another way of saying “I love you.”
She was born Anne Jean “Nancy” Costigan on April 12, 1934 in Philadelphia. Her father, an aspiring actor, moved the family to Hollywood when Nancy was five to pursue a career in vaudeville. Nancy and her younger sister, Katie Costigan, loved to recount their escapades growing up in Hollywood’s golden era. Nancy graduated from Hollywood High in 1952 and not long after met her future husband while working at Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank. Dick Saillant spied her walking across the manufacturing floor and that was that.
They married in 1955 and a decade later moved to the San Fernando Valley where they raised their growing family. Nancy completed an associate’s degree and worked for a time as a Recreation Leader at Chase Park in Panorama City. In 1991, she moved to Carpinteria to care for her mother. She stayed for 25 years.
Besides her husband, Nancy leaves behind eight children: Christine Mitbo (Dale); Richard M. Saillant (Lori); Mark Saillant; Catherine Saillant (Noel); Susan James (Joseph); Michael Saillant (Cindy); James Saillant; and Joseph Saillant. She leaves 10 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends, including her best friend Jill Lista.
A rosary will be said on Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 1532 Linden Ave., Carpinteria. A memorial Celebration of Life will be held on Aug. 27 at 1 p.m. at the Carpinteria Woman’s Club, 1059 Vallecito Road, Carpinteria. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Carpinteria Beautiful, P.O. Box 1294, Carpinteria, CA 93014. Nancy’s family intends to install a memorial tree plaque to commemorate her at an appropriate spot in Carpinteria.