Nancy Lucille (Johnson) Coonen, age 89, passed away peacefully on Friday, July 7th, 2023. Nancy was born on September 15, 1933 to Jerome and Irene (Braatz) Johnson of Menasha, WI. Nancy attended Menasha High School and worked for one year at Hewitt transmission before meeting and marrying David Coonen in 1953. Nancy and her husband David first lived on 3rd St. in Menasha, then Anhaip St., into another upper apartment as the family continued to grow. Dave worked for his father at the family’s auto shop, Coonen’s Complete Repair. In true Roman Catholic fashion, Dave and Nancy had three children in less than three years. Nancy would recount her early years as a mother, wrangling three boys ages three and under, in the small upper apartment, trekking up and down the stairs to do laundry and cooking during the hot summers.
Eventually Nancy and Dave moved to first street in Menasha and had two more children. While Dave spent much of his time and energy providing for his family at the family business, Nancy, as many women in her era did, managed all things cooking, cleaning, and child rearing. Though small and sweet, she was a force to be reckoned with, wielding a spatula in one hand and a wooden cutting board in the other. The amount of food delivered by bicycle to the Coonen house was by all accounts legendary, as Nancy has always expressed her love through the quantity and quality of the food she prepared for the ones she loves. Her baked bean recipe was the best thing about a summer family cookout. She made the best desserts and pies, and she always had a chilled bowl in the refrigerator, ready to beat whipping cream into a topping for her pecan, apple, or pumpkin pies at holidays. She always had hearty leftovers ready to heat up for her grown children who stopped for lunch children well into their 50s, and she always had a candy dish filled with jelly beans, chocolates, or some other treats. Doughnuts, cookies, or bars were readily available on the counter when grandchildren or great grandchildren stopped to visit.
After her children were grown, Nancy worked in the surgery department at ThedaClark for over 20 years. In her retirement she continued to stay busy, volunteering at the Community Clothes Closet for many years and bowling with friends. While David didn’t particularly like to travel, she was able to take a trip of a lifetime to Hawaii with her good friend Betty. She loved local craft fairs and a good pair of khaki pants. She was always home to cheer on the Packers and Badgers, although this was also the only time you might hear her use colorful language if either team was losing. Grandma Coonen was a complete sucker for a new grandbaby or great grandbaby, always buying a blanket, stuffed animal, and cozy outfits for a new addition to the family, and the best part of her gifts were that they smelled like her and everything in her house. Her living room was filled with magazines and cozy furniture. Her fair complexion turned bright red with a glass of wine, and her blue eyes became even more vibrantly blue whenever she cried tears of joy or tears of sadness. Her grandchildren and her great grandchildren were her joy, and her legacy will live on in our hearts and memories.
Nancy was preceeded in death by her husband, David and son, John. She is survived by her children, Mary (Jeff) Linehan, Michael (Becky) Coonen, Paul Coonen, and Peter (Jackie) Coonen; and her grandchildren, Michael (Sally) Coonen, Dane (Maria) Coonen, Jessica (Robbie) Coenen, Megan (David) Thumann, Adam (Lauren), Nikolas Linehan, Aly (Matt) Hargrave, Samantha Linehan, Courtney Long, Kelvin (Chelsey) Long; and 19 great grandchildren.
A memorial visitation will be held for Nancy on Thursday, July 20, 2023 from 9:30-11:00 AM at St. Mary Catholic Church, 528 2nd St, Menasha, WI 54952 with a mass to follow at 11:00 AM. Nancy will be laid to rest next to her husband at St. Mary Cemetery in Menasha.
The Coonen family would like to thank the staff at Oak Park Place and Compassus for their care of Nancy over the last several years.