On Saturday February 11th, 2023 at 7:41pm, Nancy Irene St. Charles-Desjean, passed away peacefully in her home with family present. Nancy was 83 years old and was going to celebrate her 84th birthday on February 16th.
Born in Pasadena, California on February 16th, 1939, Nancy was the beloved daughter of the late Joseph and Lucille Wiench and sister to deceased Beverly Wiench Lambert. Nancy married the late Robert St. Charles in 1975 with whom they brought into life their pride and joy, Aimee’ Lucille St. Charles Kahl. Nancy also cherished her beloved Matthew Kahl, her late son-in-law who passed suddenly in September of 2021.
Nancy is survived by her daughter Aimee’, as well as her wonderful grandsons and most precious gems, Gray St. Charles-Kahl and Noah Kahl. They were loved by her beyond words. In 1997, Nancy embarked on a 30 year marriage journey with William (Bill) Desjean whom she is also survived by.
Nancy graduated from UCLA in Performing Arts after she attended Pasadena City College where she first learned that she had a “voice”. After college Nancy was awarded the Merola Program Scholarship with the San Francisco Opera Company, giving her six weeks of Master Classes and performed “The Marriage of Figaro” and later was contracted to perform with the company. The following year she moved to New York City where she performed as a mezzo soloist with the Little Orchestra Society at Carnegie Hall and the NY Philharmonic Hall, singing “The Messiah”. During her time in NYC, Nancy performed with several National Touring Companies throughout the US and Canada with roles in “Funny Girl”, “On a Clear Day”, and “The Music Man”. In 1969, Nancy moved to Florence Italy and was awarded as a recipient of the Fullbright Institute of International Education Scholarship to study with the world renowned mezzo soprano, Madame Giulietta Simionata at Villa Schifanoia. Her six week scholarship was extended and she was awarded another scholarship which would allow her to stay on a full year longer.
After returning from Italy, Nancy moved back to New York City where she resided for 10 years and in her early 30’s while performing frequently, Nancy learned about Nicheren Daishonin’s sect of Buddhism where she met her husband Robert St. Charles. After giving birth to their daughter, Aimee’, they moved to New Jersey where Nancy became active in the local community theater, teaching acting lessons, improv, clowning, and vocal coaching, as well as directing a 200 member chorus for the Buddhist organization she practiced with. While in New Jersey, Nancy took a position with the Department of the Navy at the Philadelphia Naval Yard as their Tickets and Tours Director. This position catapulted her into her true calling, creating, directing, developing, and implementing various dynamic programs in which she served numerous ship commands and brought entertainment and joy to many of the sailors and their families in and around Philadelphia. While working at the Naval Base, her husband Robert was diagnosed with terminal cancer and simultaneously a position had opened up as the Tickets and Tours Director at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Nancy and her husband thought it best to make the move and so she took the position and began her 20 year career working with the United States Marine Corps. During her time at Camp Lejeune, Nancy served countless thousands of Naval and Marine Corps personnel and rose to Program Manager for Marine Corps Base and Naval Hospital.
Even with the tremendous responsibilities she had as a Program Manager, Nancy always maintained her passion and love for music and theater and created the Camp Lejeune Community Theater, directing multiple shows including “The Fantastics”, “Man of La Mancha”, “Cabaret”, “A Chorus Line”, “West Side Story”, “Last of the Red Hot Lovers”, “Always Patsy Cline”, among many others. She also continued vocal coaching and eventually created the “St. Charles Singers” who performed for several years at many different military instillations as well as VIP events such as the commissioning of the USS Reagan and a dinner theater in 2001 with distinguished guest, General James Jones, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps. After years of creating, directing, and implementing countless new programs for the marines, sailors, other servicemen and women and their families at Camp Lejeune, Nancy decided it was time for her voice to be heard once again and began singing with her jazz ensemble composed of several doctors from the Naval Hospital. They called themselves the “St. Charles Players”. It should be noted that Nancy had broken through the “glass ceiling” long before it became a thing.
Through her work, passion, and love for people and the arts, Nancy’s life touched the hearts and souls of thousands of people.
After retiring from Camp Lejeune in 2002 and later coaching, Nancy and Bill moved to Colorado Springs to be near Aimee’, her husband Matt, and their boys in 2014. At this point, Nancy had already begun and continued to experience numerous medical challenges that ultimately became insurmountable to overcome. Nancy had always been and remained a fighter to keep breathing, keep living, and be with her family for as long as possible. Even in the few days before she took her last breath, Nancy always remained spunky, fiery, a “director” and determined to live as long as possible.
Those of us that have been left behind are utterly devastated and heartbroken to the core knowing the force of nature that is Nancy St. Charles is no longer with us physically. However her powerful spirit will always live on inside of us and anyone that had the opportunity to meet and know her. As her daughter said recently, if you met Nancy you remember Nancy. She is unlike anyone else in this world and is impossible to forget.
“Life is like a train ride we all share.” Nancy departed “our” train at her very special stop. And now we move forward towards our destinations and destinies.
With every breath, we love the glory of your life dear wife, mother, grandmother, and friend to so many souls.
“This is our quest, to follow that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far. To fight for the right, without question or pause. To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause. And I know, if I only be true, to this glorious quest. That my heart, will lie peaceful and calm, when I’m laid to my rest. And the world will be better for this. That one (wo)man, strong and covered with scars, still strove with her last ounce of courage to reach, the unreachable, STAR.” - The Impossible Dream (the Quest) from Man of La Mancha.
In lieu of flowers, and/or if inspired to do so, please donate to Nancy’s memorial fund at @Aimee-Kahl via Venmo or @aimeekahl1 via PayPal.
A celebration of life will be held on March 25th, 2023 at 10am MST in Divide Colorado.
Details to be announced via Facebook. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries or if you would like to attend virtually.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Nancy Irene (Wiench) St. Charles-Desjean, please visit our floral store.