Nancy Ilene Welper (i.e., Nana Nancy), 65, of Laramie, Wyoming, passed away peacefully in her home on Monday, October 30, 2023.
The 7th of 11 children, Nancy was born into a loving family on September 15, 1958 in Waukon, Iowa to Robert and Andree Burrett. With six older siblings and another four little ones to follow her birth, there was never a dull moment in the house of Nancy’s childhood. As one of the later children to come along, Nancy learned to speak up or forever hold her peace – and she chose the former. Spunky and assertive, she was a woman who knew her own mind and didn’t allow herself to sink into the background of a large family. She didn’t waste time people-pleasing or trying to be someone she wasn’t. She was unabashedly herself, without pretense, snobbery, or shame over who she was and where she came from. She knew her worth as an individual and always stood up for herself and those she loved.
Her childhood was filled with sibling playmates and adventure. While the winters were busy with chores and school, taking care of little ones and after school explorations, the summers were full of fun activities, 4th of July fireworks, and going to the fair. Nancy learned the meaning of family at a very young age and that love for her family stayed with her all throughout her life, only expanding in its reach.
Nancy met her future husband, Gary, in 1976. They went on a few dates, but Gary eventually moved out west to explore multiple job opportunities. Nancy and Gary lost touch for a while and she was blessed with her first child, Jill in 1978. Nancy was eventually able to rekindle her friendship with Gary. Her love for Gary ultimately superseded her love for Iowa. She and her daughter moved out west to the great state of Wyoming to be together. Then in time they ended up in Gillette, WY and were married on January 15, 1983. Nancy was a good wife and exactly the woman that Gary needed. She was his rock, his nurse, his friend, and the mother of his children. She took care of him when they were young – waking up early to make his coffee, pack his lunch, and keep track of his appointments. And she certainly took care of him when he was old and needed greater assistance. One of Nancy’s greatest acts of love was spending all of her time caring for her beloved husband before he passed away in 2021. She found the strength and fortitude to provide this love even with multiple health ailments affecting her. She never shirked her responsibilities or gave up the fight. She stayed by his side to the end, honoring all of his end-of-life wishes, and sending him tenderly off to the Lord when his time on earth was done.
Nancy felt privileged to be a mother. She often spoke of how the doctors told her she wouldn’t be able to have children. You could see the glee in her eye at having proved their incompetence with three more pregnancies, her prized sons: Michael, Robert & Brian. In 1988 and 1989 respectively, their cherished babies, Joseph and Anna were born. Tragically, both babies died within days of their births. Their lives and deaths had a profound effect on Nancy. That tough little woman felt more heartbreak than she sometimes thought she could bear upon losing her babies. Their lives changed her outlook on life and sometimes made her question if anyone was lovingly watching over her and her children. True to her nature, she took it upon herself to get her family through those tough times, leaving nothing to chance or even to God. She stepped up to every challenge that life threw at her and often felt alone in doing it. What a silver lining it was for her to witness the fruits of her labor toward the end of her life. With her boys grown into admirable men, she was able to better see God’s watchful eyes and His hand in strengthening her as she strengthened her family. Adding to her joy, another special baby entered Nancy and Gary’s lives in 1998, when they adopted Isaiah Welper, completing their family.
In 2014-2020, Nancy became Nana to four beloved grandchildren (Paul, Lucy, Wyatt, & Olivia.) Fulfilling her roles as wife, mother, and Nana meant everything in the world to Nancy. Being a Nana, was her supreme calling in life.
Nancy was one of the most hard-working individuals out there. She raised 5 kids, worked full time, and also understood the importance of getting her GED to allow her to better provide for her family. Nancy worked a variety of jobs and worked tirelessly to provide for the needs of her family, often setting aside her desires for those that she loved.
Nancy is survived by her children: Michael (Nancy) Welper of Laramie, Robert Welper (Derek Vazquez) of Los Angeles, CA, Brian (Amber) Welper of Laramie, and Isaiah Welper of Laramie; her 4 grandchildren, Paul, Lucy, Wyatt & Olivia Welper; her siblings, Mary Lubahn (Gordie) of Byron, MN, Robbie (Brenda) Burrett of Waterville, IA, Pam (Ken) Berding of Walker, MN, Terry (Donnie) Johnson of Waukon, IA, Don Burrett of Madison, GA, Dawn (Larry) Feaker of La Port City, IA, Penny (Dave) Wheeler of Postville, IA, Keith (Margaret) Burrett of Monona, IA, Wayne Burrett of Waukon, IA, her sister-in-law Mary Burrett of St. Cloud, MN, her mother-in-law Joan Welper of Gillette, WY and her niece Julie (Gabe) Koerper of Gillette and many other nieces and nephews.
She is preceded in death by her husband, Gary Welper, Her father and mother, Robert & Andree Burrett, her father-in-law Harold Welper, her brother Jim Burrett, her sister-in-law, Beverly Sanchez, her nieces Beth Montoya & Jody Sanchez.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, November 10th @ 11:00 am with the viewing starting at 10:00 am. The funeral will be held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints located at 1065 N. 15th St., Laramie, WY 82072. A graveside service for family and friends in Gillette will be held on Monday, November 13th at Mt. Pisgah Cemetery at 1:00 pm.