GALVESTON — Nancy Ellen Lefeber Hughes was born to Edward James Lefeber, Sr, and Ellie Hancock Weisiger Lefeber on December 21, 1954 in Galveston, TX. She was the youngest of six children (Edward, John, Robert, Ann and Donald), and she was close to her siblings and extended family throughout her life. Growing up in Galveston, she attended Sam Houston Elementary, Stephen F. Austin Middle School, and Ball High School, where she graduated in 1973. Her dedication to serving others came naturally; her father was a doctor and her mother was a nurse. She was further inspired to help people through her membership of the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls and volunteering as a candy striper. Nancy always loved the creative arts, and during her childhood, she played the violin in string orchestra from the 6th to 12th grade and studied ballet at the Isabelle McKenna Dance School.
Nancy met the love of her life, Michael B. Hughes, while in middle school, and shortly afterwards, they became high school sweethearts. Both Mike and Nancy attended the University of Texas at Austin, and in 1976, she received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. They married in 1976. She worked as a nurse for 10 years, starting at St David’s Hospital in Austin while her husband was attending law school. In 1978, Mike and Nancy returned to Galveston where he started practicing law at McLeod, Alexander, Powel and Apffel. Nancy worked in the Intensive Care Unit at the former St. Mary’s Hospital and then as an oncology nurse at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB).
In 1982, she gave birth to her first child, Laura. Her second daughter, Katherine, was born in 1985 and her son, Matthew, in 1992. She was a completely devoted mother, and she adored her children as they adored her. She was non-judgmental and ready to provide practical advice on issues ranging from school and relationships to household projects. Nancy would help her children in any way possible, but also, she was a lot of fun. Her children loved to go to concerts with their mom, watch movies, dance to ABBA, and go shopping. She was their idol.
Nancy was a very creative person, talented at crocheting, gardening and a variety of arts and crafts. She also had a beautiful soprano voice, and she loved to sing the hymns at Trinity Episcopal Church where she was a lifelong member. While working as a nurse, she volunteered in the Junior League of Galveston County and taught aerobics classes at the local YMCA. She also played the violin in the Galveston Symphony for many years alongside her husband, a cellist.
In 1990, Mike and Nancy purchased a Victorian house in Galveston’s East End Historical District that was in need of extensive repairs. She was devoted to the restoration of the house, refurbishing its interior walls, painting the gingerbread lattice, reinstalling the widow’s walk, painting many of the interior fireplaces and reinstating the cupola on the right side of the roof. The house is just one example of Nancy’s dedication to hard work and her love of making things beautiful. The house became the center for family events, with Nancy and Mike hosting holidays, birthdays, weddings, and funerals. Since 2009, Wednesday nights have been reserved for “Family Dinner” with Nancy’s children, her niece Jennifer Haglund and husband Hans, great niece and nephew Heidi and Hunter Haglund, Nancy’s sister-in-law, Jeannie Hughes, her mother-in-law, Erin Hughes, and a countless rotation of friends and extended family.
After a decade of nursing, Nancy wanted to be more helpful to her patients, so she decided to follow her father’s footsteps and go to medical school. She valued her experience as a nurse because that training helped her to become a true advocate for her patients. Like her father and brother, Edward, she decided to specialize in internal medicine, and in 1994, she graduated from the UTMB Medical School at the age of 39. She completed her residency at UTMB and served as Chief Resident in the Department of Internal Medicine for a year.
From 1994 to 2008, Nancy worked as a primary care physician at UTMB where she established a strong following among her many patients. After Hurricane Ike struck the island in 2008, she decided to use that as an opportunity and opened her own private practice, Internal Medicine Associates of Galveston. She was the second generation to run the private practice of that same name, again following her father’s footsteps. Nancy served over 2,000 patients at this practice where she was a dedicated and compassionate doctor. She gave each patient her undivided attention, and her skilled suggestions, along with her calm demeanor, guided patients through their most difficult times. She believed that true happiness was serving others, and she was fulfilling her dream by helping people in need.
Even though Nancy was a hardworking physician, she had a full and rich personal life. She had many hobbies and dedicated her free time to her family. Nancy loved to rollerblade; for many years, you could see her skating down the Seawall with ski poles in hand. She also enjoyed going sailing with her husband, Mike, and daughter, Katherine, at the Sea Star Base Galveston. She loved bike riding, walking around the island with her husband and dog, and going to see the Houston Grand Opera. Nancy was vivacious and had an unique sense of humor- she loved to dance, listen to music, and drive around the island in her convertible with the top down. She had a fabulous fashion sense and knew how to have fun with clothes as well. She enjoyed traveling the world, and she went on many amazing trips with her family, creating memories they will always cherish. She was present at the births of her two grandchildren, Davis and Connor McDermott, which brought her much joy. She adored spending time with her grandsons, taking them swimming and walking to Adoue Park. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and doctor, who was a guiding light to many people. She was beloved and bestowed her love and attention on so many people. She will be deeply missed.
On March 18, Nancy was tragically killed by a hit and run driver while she was riding her bike on the east end of the Seawall. She leaves behind a devastated family, including her husband of 46 years, Mike, her three children: Laura (Jimmy Watson and his two children, William and Lauren), Katherine (Marissa Barnett), and Matthew, two grandsons, Davis and Connor McDermott, three of her brothers: Edward, John and Donald Lefeber, her mother-in-law, Erin Burke Hughes, sister-in-law, Jeannie Hughes (Jim Niederle), many dear nieces and nephews, and other close extended family. She is preceded in death by her parents, Edward and Ellie Lefeber, two of her siblings: Ann Lefeber Botik and Robert Lefeber, and her father-in-law, Harry C. Hughes.
The visitation will be held on Friday, March 25, from 5 — 7 pm at Carnes Brothers Funeral Home (1201 23rd Street, Galveston, TX). The funeral will be held on Saturday, March 26, at 11 am at Trinity Episcopal Church in Galveston.
Memorials can be made to The Lefeber Winter Series on Aging at UTMB or Trinity Episcopal Church.