After a short period of struggle, Nancy Norris made up her mind that she was “ready to go”and entered hospice care on April 16th, 2018. Her only request was that it would be as painless and peaceful as possible. Thankfully, Nancy got her wish and passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of April 20th, 2018.
Nancy was born on January 24th, 1929 in Orange, NJ and grew up in Lawrenceville, NJ.
She attended Miss Fines School for Girls and Bradford Junior College and then moved to New York City where she met her first husband, Edwin Herman Koehler. Once married the newlyweds moved to Glendale, WI where Eddie took a job to revive the old Laskin Tannery. During this time, Nancy and Eddie had two children, Kathryn Hurd Koehler and Marjorie Phyllis Koehler. Eddie was involved in numerous civic causes, one of which was chairing their local chapter of the March of Dimes. Ironically in 1955, just before the introduction of the Salk polio vaccine, he contracted polio and died within 48 hours, leaving Nancy alone with two very young children.
A few years later, Nancy married Thomas Wyatt Norris, Jr., moved to Whitefish Bay, WI and had two more children, Wendy Ann Norris and John Coleman Norris. During those years, Nancy went back to school and received her Masters of Science in Social Work. Then in 1972, Nancy and Tom moved to Pewaukee, WI where she worked in Social Services for Waukesha County. Tom and Nancy lived the rest of their lives greatly enjoying their home on the water.
Nancy’s life was touched by tragedy. She lost two husbands. First, Eddie in 1955 and then Tom in 2009, as well as two of her four children, Johnny in 1967 and Kathy in 1978. In 1960, her third daughter Wendy, was born with Cerebral Palsy.
Nevertheless, despite her many trials Nancy was a resilient survivor. She was always able to bounce back, recover her zest for life and sense of humor and inspire her many friends. She was a social person and a loyal friend who derived great pleasure from being with old friends and making new ones. She often hosted gatherings and loved to get together with her bridge group companions. Her bible study friends became very dear to her as well.
Throughout her life, membership in many community organizations kept Nancy connected in meaningful ways. She belonged to the Junior League of Milwaukee, the Woman’s Club of Milwaukee, the Pewaukee Woman’s Club, the Pewaukee Yacht Club, and the Kettle Moraine Garden Club. She also volunteered her time in local causes such as the University Lake School Barn Sale and the Historical Society of Pewaukee.
Nancy’s later years were primarily filled with her three main passions. Although never formally trained, Nancy had a real talent for decorating. There was no end to the improvements she made to her small Pewaukee Lake cottage transforming it into a stylish and comfortable retreat.
Nancy was a tireless advocate for her daughter Wendy. She continuously searched for ways to make Wendy’s life healthier and happier. Today, Wendy lives quite well in Norris House, a group home in Waukesha, WI built by Coleman Norris and run by St. Coletta of Wisconsin.
Anyone who knew Nancy well also knows Joey, her beloved little dog. After the death of her husband Tom in 2009, Nancy rescued Joey from a local shelter. He crawled onto her lap and it was mutual “love at first sight”. From that time on he was her constant companion always trying to be as close to her as possible. While in hospice care just as at home, Joey slept alongside Nancy. Loyal to the end, when she passed, he quietly crawled up and gently laid across her body.
Nancy was refreshingly open minded. She had a quick wit and a marvelous sense of humor. She could always be counted upon for her fresh and forthright point of view. Nancy also had a great sense of fashion and style. She was one of the hippest old ladies ever!
Nancy is survived by her daughters Margie Phyllis Koehler-Sacharok and Wendy Ann Norris, her grandsons John Edwin Sacharok and Austin Andrew Sacharok and her brother-in-law, Coleman Norris.
Nancy’s memorial service will be held at St. Anskar’s Episcopal Church, N48W31340 State Road 83 (Hill Rd) Hartland, WI 53029, on Friday, June 15th at 5pm.
Immediately following the service there will be a celebration of Nancy’s life at the residence of her brother-in-law, Coleman Norris on Pewaukee Lake.
RIP Nancy, losing you brings such sadness. You were a bright spot in our lives. You are truly missed.