On March 31, 2022, Nancy Lee Pagel, with family by her side, quietly passed away.
Nancy was born on August 14, 1932, in Chicago, Illinois to parents Clarence and Rose Hedstrom. Although born during the Great Depression when extra money was hard to come by, Nancy and her brother Don were blessed with loving parents who always found a way to make even the smallest of gifts special.
Living in Chicago until the age of 14, Nancy and her family moved to Omaha, Nebraska where Nancy enrolled in Benson High School and became a “Benson Bunnie”. Education was always important to Nancy and after high school she went on to Iowa State University.
It was at Iowa State that Nancy met her first husband, Robert Cowen. During their marriage they welcomed three children into the world: Kathy, Kevin and Karen “Spook”. After 10 years of marriage Nancy and Bob went their separate ways and it was shortly after that when Nancy met and married the love of her life, Norman Pagel. They weren’t perfect, but they were perfect for each other. For a little over 50 years they became the dynamic duo. Whether it was sports, food, travel, remodeling their home, or chores, they were in it together.
Nancy was an artist and a traveler. Nancy and Norm traveled throughout the globe and travel is depicted in many of her paintings including the Great Wall of China, Barcelona, Paris or one of her seascapes. These paintings are treasured by her family and are proudly displayed in their homes. Nancy was also an avid sports fan, especially when it came to the PGA and religiously watched the top tournaments on TV – rarely missing the Masters. Throughout her adult life she enjoyed jogging, tennis, golf, Tai Chi and water aerobics. In her later years, Nancy pushed herself to walk around the neighborhood, knowing it was good for her.
Whether it was taking classes at the local college, watching documentaries, reading books or her beloved Wall Street Journal, Nancy never stopped educating herself. She was a sponge and soaked it all up. She had many wonderful conversations with her grandchildren regarding current events, books, TV shows, politics and more. Although much more a conservative than a liberal, she was willing to listen to the other side and hoped others would do the same.
Nancy had a way of making life fun. Scavenger hunts, nicknames growing up, grades for manners at the table, trips to the beach, museums or just a new book she had picked out especially for you. She always chose the most well thought out gifts. She was our Nanny Panny and never failed to give the best Mayor of the Munchkin impression.
Having lived in California for over 55 years, Mom made the decision to move to Arizona where her daughter Karen and son-in-law Scott were making their new home. She enjoyed many family get togethers, celebrations, BBQ’s and holidays surrounded by her
Arizona family. She earned the nickname “Great Guppie” when one of her great-grandsons couldn’t pronounce Grandma but could say Guppie. She loved it and a special bond formed between those two.
Nancy enjoyed British TV shows and more recently became a fan of the Scottish show “Still Game”, but her favorite show that she would put on nightly while getting ready for bed was ‘Heartland”. She would enjoy a nice glass of cabernet or perhaps sip on a little Titos Vodka as she watched a show that was family-oriented and heartwarming.
Feisty, quick-witted, artistic, well educated, energetic, thoughtful, stubborn, honest and a realist all describe Nancy. She led a full, wonderful life and had a love many could only dream of. Mom, grandmother, great-grandma and friend, Nancy will be remembered and missed by many. However, if you really knew Nancy, her contagious (duck-like) laugh will be what is remembered and missed most. She was a gem and we will miss her dearly.
Nancy is survived by her daughter, Karen “Spook” (Scott) Jaeckels and their children, Jennifer (Tim) Snyder and Josh (Christina) Jaeckels; grandsons, Jeremy Garrett, Jeff (Amy) Lucas, Justin (Amber) Garrett; son, Kevin Cowen and his daughter Tara; and 11 great-grandchildren.
Preceding Nancy in death were her husband, Norman Pagel; daughter, Kathy Garrett; parents, Clarence and Rose Hedstrom, and brother, Don Hedstrom.
A private service will take place at a later date.