Recognized and awarded as an Ojai Valley Living Treasure for her great contributions to our community, Nan was passionate about the wellbeing of young children and families within the Ojai Valley.
In the 1970’s Nan Tolbert drew a large percentage of pregnant women from Ventura County to Ojai Hospital with her expertise and progressive birthing techniques. She was part of a remarkable group, along with Dr. Robert Skankey, who practiced innovative and healthy birthing techniques that are more mainstream today.
When the hospital closed its doors in 2000, Nan found new ways to help the same group of women and their families. Along with friend, Marilyn Ryan, she founded The Ojai Valley Birth Resource and Family Center, which helped countless moms and families, both English and Spanish speaking, through the birth process and early education. These classes were available to all, regardless of income. She brought families together, tapping into the experiences and knowledge of fellow mothers, creating a network of friends to help.
As a person, Nan was in touch with the loving, playful side of herself which greatly endeared her to many local children, mothers and fathers. She took a personal interest in her work by volunteering countless hours to help families with newborn babies and ultimately became intimately connected with those families as a unique, wise, compassionate role model.
Sadly, Nan succumbed to brain cancer in 2006. During her illness, her former students, patients, and friends responded with offers of help, support, food, and gifts. Nan left this world as she lived it: with grace and patience. We will miss you.
Friends of Nan
“She was an ocean of calm in the sea of chaos that was our life at the time.”
“She was able to walk gracefully and inclusively in the birthing and parenting world that’s filled with opinions and judgments about the “right way” to do things. There are times when I am working that I am reminded of Nan’s ways of being with families. She continues to inspire me to bring my best, to bring not only wisdom, but deep kindness and deep compassion to all families and all people. Nan touched me personally and professionally and her ways will not be forgotten.”
“Nan’s support to my daughter during her first pregnancy was invaluable, and after my granddaughter was born, she continued to mentor and support her through the challenges on new motherhood.
I am so glad that her dream lives on….
For me, Nan was an inspiration on how having a true passion and belief in something can change and impact lives in a positive way for years to come. Most of all I remember her gentleness and compassion for all.”
“Her kind, gentle nature, combined with her undeniable power and faith in the birthing process gave me strength during what some might consider a difficult birth. Through my three days of labor, she was always completely present with me, nurturing and guiding me in the most respectful way. Nan had the ability to see sweetness in every situation. Her joy in watching and participating in the great unfolding that is birth was contagious. Not once did I feel she had any goal or agenda other than helping me have the best birth experience possible.
Nan liked to remind people to be gentle with themselves and to pause between the inhale and the exhale of each breath. Her spirit remains with me today as I find grace in those precious pauses, and strive to be as much of a nurturing force to myself and my son as she was to those whose lives she touched.”