The Passing of Nancy DeLoye Fitzroy ’49

It is with sadness that I write to inform you of the passing of Nancy DeLoye Fitzroy ’49, an alumna and lifelong supporter of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, on January 15. She was 96 years old.

Nancy’s life was a series of firsts. She was the first woman to graduate from RPI with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. In 1987, she became the first woman to lead a major national engineering society as president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. And in keeping with her adventurous spirit, she was also one of the earliest women to obtain licensure as a helicopter pilot.

After graduating from Rensselaer, Nancy was hired by Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, and in 1952, she began a distinguished career at General Electric that lasted nearly four decades. As a researcher, she specialized in heat transfer and fluid flow research for application in nuclear reactor cores, gas turbines, space satellites, and other technologies before moving on to management and consulting roles in the 1970s. During her career, she authored more than 100 technical papers and held three patents.

In 1975, she was awarded the Rensselaer Alumni Association’s (RAA) Demers Medal for outstanding service, and in 1996 she received the Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor given by the RAA. The Institute bestowed an honorary doctorate to her in 1990, and she was inducted into the Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame in 1999. She received the prestigious Davies Medal for Engineering Achievement from the School of Engineering in 2014. In 2019, our admissions building was renamed for Nancy and her husband, Roland V. Fitzroy Jr.

Among her many other accomplishments are an Achievement Award from the Society of Woman engineers; a Centennial Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; a Federal of Professional Women Award; an honorary fellowship in the Institution of Mechanical Engineers; election to the National Academy of Engineering; an Honorary Membership Award from the American Society of Engineers; and an honorary doctorate of science from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The Deloye-Fitzroy House at Union College is also named in honor of Nancy and her husband, a Union alumnus. 

Throughout her long life and career, Nancy was an inspiration to aspiring researchers in the Rensselaer community and beyond. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends. As we observe her passing, we also celebrate her achievements and her legacy.

Viewing will be at St. George's Church, 30 North Ferry Street, Schenectady, NY, on Saturday, January 20 from 10 to 11 a.m. with services following at 11 a.m. Her family has encouraged donations to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute or Union College in lieu of flowers.

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