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Nancy Lange

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DELAVAN - Nancy Ann Firth Lange, 81, of Ankeny, Iowa, formerly of Delavan, passed away on Friday, July 19, 2013, at her daughter's home in Santa Barbara, Calif.

She was born in Peoria on March 18, 1932, to Dr. George A. and Martha E. Suchert Firth.

During the war years, Nancy attended Ferry Hall Girls School in Lake Forest and graduated from Delavan High School. She took classes at the University of Illinois and became a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority, but left before earning her degree to marry John R. "Jack" Bigger in June 1952.

They moved to Belvidere, where she worked for Manley Motors as a bookkeeper.

Nancy and Jack divorced in 1967, and she moved to southern California, where she met and married Edward J. Lange in 1968.

Nancy and Ed had one daughter, Martha Susan, named after her maternal and paternal grandmothers.

Nancy worked for several years as a bookkeeper before taking on ownership of a cafeteria in Irvine, Calif. Together they operated a number of successful catering ventures.

Ed passed away in 1987, after which Nancy moved briefly to the Bay area in California, before heading to Camp Verde, Ariz., where she lived from 1995 to 1998, working as a restaurant manager in the Verde Valley.

Nancy moved back to the Midwest in 1998 and bought a home in Ankeny, Iowa.

She worked a variety of jobs in both accounting and food service in Ankeny and Des Moines, staying busy until well after her 80th birthday.

After retiring from Treat America, she volunteered her time at the Animal Rescue League in Des Moines.

Nancy loved to travel. Some of her more memorable trips were to the Caribbean with her daughter and friend, Diane; to the Cayman Islands with her cousins, Ruth and Hank Getz; to Australia to reconnect with distant relatives; to Greece for a visit while her daughter was studying abroad; to Europe with her lifelong friend, Madelyn, to ride the Orient Express; and to Germany to visit her nephew, Grant, and his family.

Nancy was also a terrific cook and loved to entertain, especially at Christmas time, which she always made special for whoever needed a home.

She was a character and a lot of fun and will be missed by those that had the good fortune to know her.

Surviving are her daughter, Martha Susan Lange and her husband, Carson Wollert; one brother, Jay A. (Nita) Firth of Ankeny, Iowa, and their son, Grant (Birgit) Firth, and their son, Jordan of Abensberg, Germany.

Nancy had a lifelong love of animals, and asked that donations of money or time be made in her memory to her favorite charity, the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, Attn.: Candy Bell, 5452 NE 22nd St., Des Moines, IA 50313.

A graveside service will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, at Green Valley Cemetery. Msgr. Timothy Nolan will officiate. There will be no visitation. Davis Mortuary in Delavan is handling the arrangements.

To express condolences online, visit

Published in Peoria Journal Star on July 28, 2013
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