Nancy Wickersham Hall was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she did grow up with a silver necklace around her neck — and lots of other things that sparkled.
The daughter and wife of two of Bakersfield’s best-known jewelers — Charlie Wickersham, who opened Wickersham Jewelers in 1900, and Don Hall, who split from his father-in-law's business to open Don Hall Jewelers in then-new Valley Plaza in 1966 — was also the gracious owner-hostess of an upscale antique store on H Street for nearly two decades.
Nancy Hall died Sunday at age 86, said her husband, Don, who married her in 1951, the year after he went to work for her father and two years after she enrolled at USC.
She had been suffering from Alzheimer's.
Throughout the last decade of the 20th century and much of the first decade of the 21st, one of the most genteel ways to spend a Saturday afternoon in Bakersfield was to stroll through the charming little shopping district on the tree-lined edge of downtown called the H Street Walk, where antique and knickknack stores abounded.
The oldest and best known of those rustic boutiques was Mrs. Hall's store, Fond Memories, one of a dozen shops in the area just east of the city's Oleander district.
She opened the store at H and Verde streets, in the former home of the McCarthy Tank & Steel family, after the last of their three children left the nest.
"She came to my dad and announced what she had planned," said son Jon Hall, who runs the family jewelry store today. "He said, 'You're going to do what?' He had been sort of planning to slow down, and here she was, just getting started."
"She sneaked it in on me," Don Hall said.
Her ivy-covered shop, built in 1923, was bedecked room to room with a high-end collection ranging from antique furniture and Italian dinnerware to French soaps and crystal stemware. Out back, a leafy patio led to a showroom, formerly a garage, where a bed outfitted in fine linen is delicately overhung with twigs — touches not seen in chain stores.
Shoppers from Los Angeles to San Francisco and beyond visited, often seeking the English country manor look: teacups and lace, a bed-and-breakfast feel.
"She had such good taste and it was just fun to go in there and visit with her and see what items she had in," Barbara Grimm-Marshall, a friend and customer, said in a 2005 interview.
Diane Lake, a Bakersfield friend since first grade who used to travel with Hall to shop for antiques in New York, stopped into the shop regularly to check out new items.
"It was a fun thing to do on Saturday afternoon because she always had something interesting," she said in 2005. "It always gave me a lift."
Mrs. Hall closed the shop in 2005 at age 80.
She is survived by Don, her husband of almost 69 years, son Jon, of Bakersfield, and daughter Kathleen, of Tucson. A second daughter, Victoria Ann, of Dallas, died in 2013.
The Halls are still working out details for a memorial service. It will likely be held at St. Francis Catholic Church sometime after Jan. 1. Nancy will be buried at the Wickersham family plot at Union Cemetery.