Local Obituaries

Nancy McCormick, who led efforts to preserve Deering Estate and Vizcaya, dies at 97

The McCormick family in early 1950s Miami. Nancy Hoskinson McCormick, son Hilleary, and husband Charles Deering McCormick.
The McCormick family in early 1950s Miami. Nancy Hoskinson McCormick, son Hilleary, and husband Charles Deering McCormick. Courtesy Nancy McCormick

Nancy Hoskinson McCormick stood in the doorway of the Deering Estate. This was a good day.

More than six years earlier, Hurricane Andrew battered the estate that her husband’s grandfather, Charles Deering, had built. McCormick was back regaling staff with stories. The estate was restored and about to reopen a few months later in March 1999. Here, she said, is where the sturdy furniture once sat. There, the priceless paintings hung.

Though McCormick did not live in the stone mansion that Deering built in 1922, or Vizcaya, which Deering’s half brother James built in 1914, she was passionate about preserving these sites.

“She was committed to respecting and carrying on the family legacy and, for that, I’m grateful,” said Vizcaya’s executive director Joel Hoffman.

McCormick died Feb. 18 in Miami. She was 97.

“I will always remember my grandmother as the epitome of elegance, grace and charm. I am very proud to be her namesake, and I hope to carry on her legacy of love and devotion to family and active civic involvement,” said granddaughter Nancy McCormick. “She loved living in Miami, and I remain committed, as she was, to the continued support of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens and the Deering Estate at Cutler.”

McCormick, born in Washington, married Deering heir Charles Deering McCormick in 1947. He was the grandson of Charles Deering, whose father founded the company that became International Harvester.

In addition to being actively involved in the Deering and Vizcaya estates, McCormick and her husband also were patrons of Northwestern University, the Art Institute of Chicago and Planned Parenthood. He died in 1994.

In 1950, McCormick orchestrated a visit to Vizcaya by National Geographic. A resulting spread that year proved important, Hoffman said, because it brought national attention to the waterfront venue and helped preserve the 50 acres that featured the main house and its formal gardens. The county opened these to the public in 1953. Eight years earlier, in 1945, the heirs sold other land parcels to the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine to build Mercy Hospital.

Until recently, McCormick attended functions at Vizcaya. “We feel tremendous affection for Nancy,” Hoffman said. “She was always a person with an incredible verve, warmth, humor and generosity of spirit. … For someone who had seen this place for a long time change and evolve, she was always so enthusiastic about the work that would occur here.”

McCormick is also survived by great-grandchildren Sebastian and Cyra, and daughter-in-law Katherine McCormick. She was predeceased by her son, Hilleary. Services are 6 p.m. Wednesday at Stanfill Funeral Home, 10545 S Dixie Hwy., Pinecrest.