Unconditional in her love, Nancy Hanke was a woman of honesty and compassion, who gave her all in everything she did with an unwavering and optimistic demeanor. Underneath her easygoing nature and positive outlook on life was a reservoir of strength, which those around her came to depend on. Nancy was a constant in the lives of her loved ones, very dependable and loyal. In her, her children and grandchildren found not only a mother and grandmother, but also a true friend. Always thinking of others before herself, Nancy was both blessed by and a blessing to those she loved.
1935 was a harsh time in the history of our nation with the country in the depths of the Great Depression, an event that took its toll on everything from the largest factory to the smallest family. For Clarence and Marion (Seewald) Bartz of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it was also a time of great joy as they welcomed the birth of their daughter, Nancy, on June 23, 1935. Nancy was one of four children in her family, with two sisters, Sharon and Gloria, and one brother, Ronald. She and her siblings shared many wonderful childhood memories together, especially the summers they spent with their grandparents in Tomahawk. Nancy received her education in the Milwaukee area schools, graduating in 1953. It was while in high school that she met the love of her life, Paul Hanke, Jr., who attended Boys Tech High School. Funny, he was known as “Geets” to his friends because of the cleats he wore on his shoes. Nancy and Paul were happily married by the Justice of the Peace in Milwaukee on May 18, 1957.
The couple became the proud parents of two beautiful daughters, Diane and Kathy, who brought them so much joy. It was evident by the life Nancy lived that she fully embraced that being a mother was truly a matter of the heart. Becoming a grandmother was simply the icing on the cake and one of life’s greatest gifts. She was always very caring and sensitive, and a good listener who uplifted those who came to her with words of encouragement. Reassuringly she’d say “Everything will be just fine, it will all work out” and that seemed to make everything better! And if you got one of her “two thumbs up,” then you knew everything was going to be fine. Family was the greatest source of happiness for Nancy, and she derived great joy from watching them grow and succeed in life. She loved watching her grandchildren and great-granchildren play, and was all ears when they told her about their adventures in life.
Outside of family, Nancy enjoyed going for walks, shopping, having a warm Hamm’s beer, and listening to old time country music singers, like Charlie Pride, Johnny Cash and Tammy Wynette. She was meticulous about her hair being combed just right and colored red, and it wasn’t unusual to see her in white slacks even in the off season. Nancy cherished the Fridays she spent at her daughter Diane’s home, and Sundays when her daughter Kathy came to visit. Also numbered to her family was her cat, Taffy, her constant companion. All those who knew Nancy loved her, and those who already loved her grew to cherish her even more! She will be dearly missed.
Nancy A. Hanke (nee Bartz) died on Friday, March 7, 2014. Age 78 years. Preceded in death by her beloved husband, Paul Hanke Jr., and her brother, Ronald Bartz. Cherished mother of Diane Herzog and Kathy (Johnny) Samarripa. Loving grandmother of Melissa (Ty) Nowak, Samantha (Matt) Leipolt, Cassandra Murray, Ashley Herzog and Nicole Herzog. Dear sister of Sharon Donaldson and Gloria Mortek. Further survived by great-grandchildren, other relatives and friends.