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1926 Betty 2022

Betty Nigl

September 16, 1926 — June 1, 2022


Elizabeth (Betty) A. Nigl, age 95, passed from the loving arms of family and caregivers at St. Paul Home into the loving arms of God on June 1, 2022. Betty was born in Freedom, Wisconsin on September 16, 1916, daughter of Clarence and Loretta (Hoks) Kieffer.

Betty was the second oldest child in her family and lost her father at the tender age of four. Though she grew up with very little, she appreciated the simple things in life and enjoyed sharing fond memories from her childhood. Betty spent most of her life in Kaukauna. During her sophomore year in high school, she contracted tuberculosis and endured nine long months at the local sanatorium. There was a brief interlude when Betty escaped from the “San” by climbing out of a window, but she was promptly returned to finish recuperating. She finally resumed studies at Kaukauna High School where she graduated with honors and a scholarship in 1945. Betty earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Lawrence University in 1949. She spent six years teaching high school English and Spanish in Delavan and Seymour, Wisconsin.

On June 20, 1953, Betty married the love of her life, Marcus Nigl, at Holy Cross Church. They enjoyed nearly 60 years of marriage before Marc’s passing in June, 2013.

Throughout her life, Betty supported education in many different ways, helping as many people as possible. As a young high school teacher, Betty loved coaching drama to help students discover and develop their emerging talents. Betty returned to college to earn a Master’s Degree in 1971 and began working as guidance counselor at Kaukauna High School where she remained for 18 years. As the Sophomore Advisor, she particularly enjoyed helping students learn about future careers and how to begin preparing for college. She was involved in numerous extra-curricular activities including advising the Future Medics Club and organizing the Candy Stripers who worked with Kaukauna Community Hospital. 

Another important part of Betty’s life was supporting community and civic activities. She served as Girl Scout Troop leader in Kaukauna, President of the Kaukauna Homemakers Association and Treasurer for the Kaukauna Alumni Association. Betty provided leadership and assistance to the HELP Connection Parent Support Group by teaching groups of parents and working with students in evening sessions. She was a lifelong advocate of literacy programs and volunteered to tutor adults in reading. She also visited Holy Cross School regularly to read books to the second graders and encourage their love for books. For years, Betty enjoyed hosting students from Finland, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. She provided special support to students who were recent U.S. immigrants and formed lifelong friendships with them as they continued to achieve and succeed in the United States.

Betty truly treasured her family and home life. As a young mother, she delighted in piling kids on her lap to read books together. She loved to sew beautiful clothes for all of her children. The dresses she made were works of art with hand-smocked bodices, hand-tatted collars, billowing petticoats and fancy bows. She also loved to knit and would happily whip up a new pair of socks or slippers for anyone in need. As Betty’s kids grew older, she welcomed every opportunity for family time including watching television (lots of educational programs), doing jigsaw puzzles and playing cards. She loved to cook and bake, and her wonderful food graced every special family occasion. No one will ever forget her amazing pies, the vast array of Christmas cookies and treats she made every year, or the phenomenal amount of canning she did using Marc’s homegrown produce from the farm.

After retiring, Betty pursued even more activities like quilting and traveling with Marc to Elderhostel seminars across the country.

Betty was preceded in death by her husband Marc, her son Phil, her son-in-law Bruce Whelan, her brothers Clyde, Clayton and Howard, and her sisters Ila and Delores.

She is survived by daughters Claire Whelan, Mary (John) Pertzborn, and Kate (Pat Askew) Nigl; and grandson Nicholas Pertzborn. She is further survived by her siblings Austin Wheaton and Judy LaRue, and many very special nieces, nephews and godchildren.

Betty’s family members express their deep gratitude to the staff at St. Paul Home for their wonderful care of Mom. A special thank you goes to Mom’s daughter Claire who added so much to the comfort and pleasure of Mom’s last years.

A private interment service will be held with immediate family. The details for a separate celebration of Betty’s life will be announced soon.


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