Nina Page, adventurer, beloved school counselor and self-described bossy woman who challenged all her students, friends and family to be better, passed onward peacefully on San Juan Island in the state of Washington.
Born Sept. 7, 1975, at her family’s farm in Washington, Maine, Nina grew up active, feisty and adventuresome. It became family lore that the early photos of Nina were often blurred because she was always in motion. She reveled in trips to grandparents on the West Coast, camping in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and visits to her far-flung family. She spent a magical and formative year with her mom and brother Jed in Florence as an 8-year-old, attending Italian school and living like a princess in a castle. After high school in Camden, Maine, she spent several months backpacking through India and the Andaman Islands with a dear friend. Then on to Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied architecture and rowed on the women’s crew. Transferring to the University of Washington to study Sociology, Nina continued her enthusiasm for the outdoors, eventually climbing all the major peaks of the Cascades, kayaking waters around the world, exploring lands seldom explored. After graduation from UW, Nina won a Bonderman Fellowship, which enabled her to take her ultimate adventure – walking the length of Chile from the Peruvian border to Tierra del Fuego with her fiancé and future husband Brendan Cowan — a journey equivalent to walking on foot from Mexico City to Anchorage, never before accomplished.
Nina held several jobs in the Seattle area before getting a master’s degree in social work from UW in 2007. She worked as the school counselor at the Friday Harbor Middle School on San Juan Island from 2006 to 2013. Nina and Brendan divorced in 2009. In 2014 Nina moved to Bellingham, where she continued her work as a school counselor at Windward High School in Ferndale. When the challenges of a spinal cord disease first diagnosed in 2005 became too great, she returned to San Juan Island in 2018 where she had been continuously surrounded by a generous and caring community.
Nina is survived by her brother Jed Page of Warrenton, Virginia; sister Anna Ruth Bernhardt of Jacksonville, Florida; mother Roslyn Turner of Palm Coast, Florida; father Steve Page of Bremen, Maine; Ama and Hana; and a loving extended family; communities of dear friends around the world; and a gaggle of now grown-up kids who are happier for her counsel. As are we all. Every life can be summed by two dates separated by a dash. Nina lived the dash fully. We will carry Nina’s joy of life, sense of adventure and laughter in our hearts forever.
Donations in Nina’s name can be made to the San Juan Island Family Resource Center and/or Planned Parenthood.