Nancy Lucille Cox, a Vineyard Haven resident since 1969, died peacefully at home and surrounded by family members on Feb. 27. She was 86.

She graduated from Oberlin College with honors in speech and drama. She spent much of her adult life performing in professional, academic and community theatre nationally and abroad. On the Island, she appeared in productions at the Vineyard Playhouse and the Island Theatre Workshop. She enjoyed all her roles but some favorites were Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Ariel in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Linda Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Hedda in Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler and Serafina in Tennessee Williams’s The Rose Tatoo.

Off stage, she coordinated a weekly play reading group at the Tisbury Senior Center for four years and worked as a secretary at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services and WMVY Radio.

Nancy had a lifelong interest in the relationship between theatre and religion. Prior to living on the Island, she attended a graduate study program in religious drama taught jointly by Boston University’s School of Theology and School of Fine and Applied Arts. She was one of the founders of the Boston Area Religious Drama Service and presented numerous performances in Boston area churches.

In 2002 she became a member of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Martha’s Vineyard. She served on the worship committee and used her theatre background to help design and evaluate effective liturgy.

Though they divorced after 29 years of marriage, Nancy and theologian Harvey Cox remained good friends throughout their lives and shared a similar overarching vision in their respective work.

She tended to recite from memory a line from Shakespeare or a Billy Collins poem while in unexpected places or under unusual circumstances, such as at the doctor’s office or in conversation with a telemarketer. She knew the species, behaviors, and songs of every bird that visited her multiple feeders. With a twinkle in her eye, she would lighten any mood with her dry but respectful sense of humor.

She is survived by her daughter Rachel Cox and her husband Peter Kelemen, son Martin Cox and his wife Elaine, daughter Sarah Marshall and her husband Nick; grandchildren Sara and Luci Kelemen, Logan, Ethan and Milo Cox, and Max, Josie and Miles Marshall; her brother Ed Nieburger and his Gayle, and her nephew Braden Nieburger.

A memorial service will be held at a later time.

Donations can be made to the Unitarian Universalist Society of Martha’s Vineyard or to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.