Dear Editor and Friends,
Savannah and Southeastern Georgia has lost a great champion of the immigrant community. Our good friend and ally, Lic. Nancy Quynn left this earth after a brief, but valiant struggle with cancer.
Her physical presence is gone, but her legacy lives on in the countless immigrants she tirelessly served. I met Nancy over ten years ago, when I interpreted for her during a monthly legal clinic she offered in Savannah. I wasn’t impressed; she told one person after another, “No, you are not eligible for residency.” “How cruel,” I thought. “She could, perhaps, soften that blow a bit.” But, I soon realized she was doing these individuals a favor: she did not give false hope; she didn’t take their money to say later, “Sorry, no papers.” Hers was the kindest approach: the truth.
She didn’t take “easy” cases. There was no means testing for her services. The numbers of cases she did pro-bono (free) are countless. She determined the probability that an individual’s case would succeed and then went about compiling the documents necessary to win that coveted green card. She once told me, “If I accept a case, they will get their residency.” Time after time, her words proved true.
She accepted well-heeled professionals, but, also accepted cases that my church people call “the least of these”: victims of violence, orphans, unskilled agricultural workers, people who could not read, immigrants whose spouses or children have special needs. I once asked her in disbelief, “Nancy, where do you FIND these people?” She smiled and answered, “Oh, they find me.”
She didn’t fit the stereotype of a lawyer. Her office was a run-down old house chock-full of files and memories her clients had gifted her. She drove an old rattletrap car with nearly 300,000 miles on it, until she finally accepted that she could be more productive with a newer, more efficient car.
At her wake and funeral, the word that was repeated over and over was “kind”. Nancy was kind, caring, and self-less. The last time I talked to her - not even a month ago - she turned the conversation away from her health and problems to my family, asking about each one by name. We talked about the light of her life, her toddler granddaughter; she loved that little girl – and her mama.
Nancy was one of a kind. She abandoned a life of privilege, to chose the road less traveled. She left a prestigious law firm to work for the immigrant program of Legal Services. When that program ended, she set up an office and continued to serve that population. She was good. And she shared her knowledge with other attorneys who claim “immigration” as their specialty.
Aye, Nancy, you will be sorely missed by your family, your friends, your colleagues and the hundreds of families who so sorely need and deserve your honest qualified help. Rest in peace my dear friend and hermana en la lucha!
Marta Greenhoe Kaufman