TOWNSEND -- Nancy Shepherd, who dedicated much of her life to helping others, was remembered by one friend as the "ultimate volunteer."
"If there was something to be done, Nancy was right there," said longtime friend Jane Jackson.
Shepherd, 77, died June 22 at the Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley in Littleton. She was born in Leominster, but lived in Townsend for nearly 60 years.
Known in town for her volunteer work, particularly as a founder of the Friends of the Townsend Seniors, Nancy never sought accolades, according to one of her sons, Glen Shepherd.
"She wasn't looking to make an impact per se. That wasn't her goal to be recognized or to necessarily make an impact other than doing what she thought was the thing to do and what motivated her," he said.
"She found things that spoke to her through her life and things that she wanted to do," he said. "A lot of it had to do with helping people and extending her hand to do things she thought was right."
In addition to volunteering with the Senior Center, Shepherd worked as a social worker, co-founded an adolescent drug prevention program called Evolution and volunteered with the Townsend Boy Scouts.
Shepherd helped quietly, preferring not to draw attention to the work she was doing, Council on Aging Director Christine Clish said. That work included founding the Senior Center's Meals-on-Wheels program, and starting a Tai Chi class that continues today.
"She was very caring, loving, she wanted to do the best for seniors. Sometimes she was a bit impatient because things didn't happen quite as quickly as she would like, but her heart was always in the right place. She just wanted to make sure the seniors had what they needed," Clish said.
Clish said that both Nancy Shepherd and her husband, Roy, who died in August 2013, will be missed at the Senior Center, a building that was dedicated to the couple for all of their quiet contributions over the years.
"I was privileged to be able to get to know her a lot better in the last few years. She's taught me a great deal about caring and wanting what's best for seniors and how to be a stronger person and not give up," Clish said.
Inside her household, Glen Shepherd said, his mother was welcoming to guests, steadfast in her faith and always had cookies in the cookie jar.
"She grew up as a hardscrabble farmer, she was tight with money, frugal. She wasn't much for frivolity, but she was a very giving person in many ways with her time and with her energy," Glen Shepherd said.
In addition to her son Glen, Nancy Shepherd is survived by her sons Gregg Shepherd and Gary Shepherd of Townsend and her daughter Sandra Shepherd-Gay of Ashby, as well as daughters-in-law, a son-in-law and nine grandchildren.
Jackson spoke of a "Flower Power" event at the Senior Center on Wednesday.
"Carolyn Sellars is leading a bunch of volunteers and friends in a flower arrangement workshop," she said. "The flowers will be delivered to the church for the funeral services. A special tribute: Flowers collected from Nancy's and several Townsend gardens arranged in Mason jars. Simple, natural, just what she would have wanted."
Jackson remarked on a reporter's question, asking what the town meant to Nancy.
"I think the Q and A should be: 'What Nancy meant to the town,'" said Jackson.
The family is receiving the public today from 4-8 p.m. at Townsend Congregational Church's Fellowship Hall. The funeral will be held July 3 at 10:30 a.m. at the church.