Nancy Gail Black Sagafi-nejad, 83, passed away peacefully on September 27, 2021, in Portland, Oregon. In her final days, she was surrounded by her husband Tagi and her sons Jahan and David. She is also survived by her sister Susan Savage of Sacramento, CA, daughter-in-law Kristen Sagafi and grandson Ben Sagafi of Oakland, CA, and daughter-in-law Audra Stewart and grandchildren Cameron Sagafi and Leila Stewart of Eugene, OR.
Born in Park Falls, Wisconsin on December 29, 1937, Nancy grew up primarily in Salem, Illinois and Lubbock, Texas. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in art history from Northwestern University, worked at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and received a Master’s degree in art history at the University of Hawaii, including an eight-month stint in India. Nancy served in the Peace Corps in Iran in 1966-68, teaching art history at Pahlavi University, where she met and married Tagi Sagafi-nejad.
Nancy and Tagi moved to Philadelphia, where she became a Quaker and raised David and Jahan in the Quaker spirit. Later, Nancy graduated from the University of Texas Law School and worked as an employment discrimination and civil rights lawyer for the government and in private practice, in addition to working as a devoted homemaker.
One of Nancy’s defining features was her commitment to help bend the arc of the universe more toward justice. Refusing to accept that “it is what it is,” she spoke out and volunteered for immigrants, prisoners, and other marginalized people. Nancy sought to overcome bigotry, egocentrism, or jingoism, by fostering the bonds that connect us, through individual acts of kindness and decency, and through direct community action on behalf of those less fortunate.
Based on her powerful commitment to social justice and civility in professional and personal life, Nancy wrote a book, Friends at the Bar: A Quaker View of Law, Conflict Resolution, and Legal Reform (SUNY Press, 2011), exploring how Quaker values can contribute to improvements in legal practice and the impact of the law on society.
Nancy loved to travel the world and explore the realms of language, history, and ideas. She was an avid fan of Jeopardy, crosswords, classical music, limericks, and bargains.
In 2019, Nancy and Tagi moved to Eugene where Nancy transferred her membership from Baltimore Monthly Meeting of Friends, Stony Run. Nancy and Tagi attended Meeting for Worship fairly regularly until they moved to Portland in 2020. Members of EFM have expressed regret over not getting to know Nancy better during her relatively brief residence in Eugene and participation in the life of our Meeting.
The family and the Eugene Friends Meeting held a beautiful memorial by Zoom on Wednesday, December 29, 2021, Nancy's birthday, which was attended by nearly 70 people from all over the world.
The family welcomes donations to the American Friends Service Committee, seeking to free the world of violence, inequality, and oppression, as an expression of sympathy and in celebration of Nancy’s spirit.