Kathy Nackers led a fulfilling life surrounded by those she loved, doing the things that made her the happiest. As a social worker, and later office manager at Investment Designers, Inc., she saw much, but riding her Harley with the wind at her back and the open road before her gave her great joy. She fought a hard battle, and with the love and support of family and good friends, she lived fully right until the last. Through it all, Kathy endured with amazing grace, courage, and an unwavering positive outlook which spoke volumes. Sadly missed, she will be long remembered.
After World War II, America experienced growth like never before. All areas of industry and manufacturing expanded as the need for consumer goods rose. Moviegoers flocked to local theaters while gangly crooner Frank Sinatra’s hit song, “New York, New York” played the airwaves. The post-war baby boom was in full swing, and a young couple from the bustling city Milwaukee, Wisconsin added to the boom when on April 18, 1949, Roy and Marjory (Vanark) Krenke welcomed the birth of their little girl, Kathleen Marie into their hearts.
Kathy joined her older sister, Carol, and in time became a big sister to Pam and Tim. Her father worked as an accountant with Allis Chalmers while her mother was a beautician. She led a typical childhood for the times and attended the local schools. Following high school she went on to earn her degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Well on her way to independence, she soon landed a job in her field. In 1972, Kathy and her sister, Carol decided to get an apartment together. Little did they know the impact that move would have on their lives.
Tom Nackers, who was in his first year of teaching in Milwaukee, and his friend, Rick Becker, shared an apartment in the same building Kathy and her sister moved into. Tom had his eye on Kathy, and the feeling was mutual. Before long they began dating, as did Carol and Rick. After falling deeply in love, Tom proposed to Kathy and on August 11, 1973 they were married. As fate would have it, Rick and Carol eventually married, as well.
After setting up house and enjoying life as newlyweds, they in time were blessed with the birth of their son, Adam in 1977 followed by Derek who completed their family in 1978. Kathy loved being a mom to her two little boys. She worked part time, but when they were in school she continued working as a social worker fulltime. With her husband’s investment brokerage firm well underway, her career turned in a new direction when she took on the duties as the office manager for his company, Investment Designers, Inc. and did so for the next 20 years.
Kathy and Tom did much with their boys. As a family they enjoyed many vacations, but two in particular were quite memorable. Their road trip out west was a fun and exciting time, and a vacation east to the Washington, D.C. area was filled taking in the sights and the Smithsonian museums. It was during these fun-filled trips when Kathy and her family adopted the song by Dire Straits, “Walk of Life”. It had a good road feel and good times belting out the lyrics was thoroughly enjoyed.
An avid golfer, Kathy enjoyed numerous golf outings and vacations with family, friends and her lady’s golf group. She played courses from Lake Brittany to Lake of the Ozarks in Tennessee, and loved every minute of it. The Carolinas and Florida were among her fondest memories of playing the sport. She especially enjoyed foursomes with her husband, Tom and their sons, along with members of the Nackers Family.
As diverse as anyone’s walk in life, so too was Kathy’s interests. Devoted wife, loving mother, dedicated social worker, and golfer, she also enjoyed riding her very own Harley. When Tom bought his first Harley in the early 1990s, Kathy made him purchase their grave spaces. As a life member of the Harley’s Owners Group, she owned and often rode one of her two Harley Davidson bikes. She absolutely loved their long weekend rides to the rallies, especially to Tomahawk and Mackinac Island as well as other great destinations. They also met wonderful friends along the way who also enjoyed the feel of a Harley on the open road.
Kathy suffered the loss of her younger sister, Pam in March of 2003. It was a devastating time for her entire family, but Kathy’s positive spirit gave strength and encouragement to each of them. If anything, it girded her for what the future held and offered a resiliency with which she came to rely.
Kathy’s battle with cancer began five and a half years ago in May of 2006. Although it went into remission for a time, it’s recurrence in 2008 gave Kathy no choice but to undergo extensive chemotherapy treatments, radiation therapy and advanced embolization treatments. Through it all, Kathy’s tenacity shone bright. With a grace all her own, she lived with courage and continued to have a bright outlook of all things possible.
The fact that Kathy just recently learned to play the piano was a prime example of her unwavering spirit. She enjoyed her recently acquired hobby and embraced the challenges of piano, as well. For Kathy, it gave her solace and time to be alone with her thoughts. It also provided an escape from the rigors of her treatments.
When Kathy became an active member of Gilda’s Club of Southeast Wisconsin, she found the sharing and camaraderie of fellow cancer survivors to be priceless. There others clearly understood all she had endured. She truly appreciated the members who offered overwhelming support not only to Kathy, but to her entire family.
After her father’s death in 1984, Kathy’s priority was her mother. She excelled as her mother’s friend and companion. More recently, Kathy was able to use her social worker skills to take on the role of caregiver and advocate for her mother. Her relationship with her mother was something Kathy truely cherished.
Once again, Kathy’s determination won over any thoughts of simply giving up. She was adamant about witnessing the marriage of her son, Adam to his fiancée Kristin. Despite her illness, Kathy indeed made it to their wedding in Punta Cana earlier this month with the loving help of her husband, Tom by her side.
At the age of 62, Kathleen M. Nackers may have lost her battle to cancer but gained so much through the fulfilling life she led while enjoying the many things and people who brought her the greatest joy. She left an undeniable mark on the hearts of many and will be deeply missed.
Kathy was the beloved wife of Thomas; loving mother of Adam (Kristin) and Derek Nackers; dear daughter of Marjory (nee Vanark) and the late Roy Krenke; fond sister of Carol (Eric “Rick”) Becker, Tim (Susan) Krenke, and the late Pamela Dankert; and is also survived by nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends.
Visitation with her family will take place Friday, December 23, 2011 at Suminski Life Story Funeral Homes, Suminski/Weiss, 1901 N. Farwell Avenue (414)276-5122 from 4:00 PM until the time of her funeral service at 7:00 PM. Nothing would make Kathy happier than showing Harley pride – please feel free to wear your favorite Harley attire. A Memorial Mass in Kathy’s honor will be celebrated at Three Holy Women Parish at a later date. Private interment at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Three Holy Women Legacy Fund or Gilda’s Club of SE Wisconsin. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to share a favorite memory or photo of Kathy and to sign her online register book.