ENCINITAS — By all accounts, Nancy Daley was a much-loved force of nature. The former owner of the Daley Double Saloon in downtown Encinitas died in her home on July 15 following a long illness.
Daley, whose family started the Daley Double a half-century ago, sold the business in 2007 to undergo knee-replacement surgery and then travel around the world. The iconic neighborhood bar at 546 S. Coast Highway 101 is one of the many legacies Daley leaves behind.
Debbie Zinniger, owner of Encinitas Café for over 22 years, fondly recalls Daley’s frequent visits to the eatery.
“She was an independent woman, she loved to travel and see the world,” she said. “Nancy was a conversationalist and loved to visit with the staff and regular customers. I just loved sitting with her and listening to her, she was a pretty smart lady.”
Daley’s personality loomed large no matter what group of friends she was with.
“She was outspoken and said it like it was. She appreciated that part of her personality,” Zinniger said. “She made the most of her life.”
Daley’s circle of friends spanned several continents. In fact, one of those longtime friends, Pat Tanner, met Daley while the two attended college and remained close friends for over 50 years.
“We both liked to talk,” Tanner said. “We double dated and talked a lot during college.”
The retired teacher recalls traveling with Daley, playing cards and participating in “wild” adventures.
“We had marriages, deaths and divorces and we just always kept our friendships together.”
With an apartment in France, a group of six women, known as the “birthday group,” traveled often with Daley to Europe.
“Nancy loved her family so much,” Tanner said. “Her main passion was traveling. I think there were only two places in the world she wanted to go that she didn’t go to.”
Daley got an early start, traveling alone on a bus from Seattle, Wash., to San Diego to scope out a place for her family to relocate.
“She looked all around and decided that Point Loma was where they should move and they did,” Tanner said.
At 21, Daley traveled by herself to Europe. “You went there? You went there by yourself?” was a common refrain heard at the Encinitas Café when Daley would recount her many travels, according to Zinniger.
An avid tennis player, she had many groups of friends including “the bar group,” and “the birthday group,” Tanner said. “She was a dynamic person,” she said. “There was never a dull moment with Nancy.”
In the last year of her life Tanner said Daley took a cruise around China and Japan.
“She didn’t give up easily,” Tanner said. “She loved life. She felt she had done everything she wanted to do,” Tanner said. “I think a lot of people don’t get to say that in the end. She loved the bar; the staff was like another family to her.”
The Daley Double began its life as a bar in 1934, when the Rendezvous opened in the location. Drinks were served inside while boxing matches occurred outside according to local lore.
In 1957, Daley’s father, Frank, a professional hockey player from the East Coast, bought the building and started the Daley Double. He left it to his wife, Ruby, when he died in 1960.
Daley gave up social work and elementary school teaching in 1971 to manage the bar with her mother, who died of Alzheimer’s disease in 1994.
A celebration of Daley’s life will be held at the Beach Grass Cafe, 1478 Encinitas Blvd., on July 31, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. People are encouraged to bring stories.