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Nancy Thorwardson

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Nancy Thorwardson Obituary
Nancy Thorwardson, of Lyons, Colorado, passed away April 11, 2017. Nancy was "born a small Icelandic child," as she liked to say, in Cavalier, North Dakota on March 2, 1955, to Lee and Helen (Kennedy) Thorwardson. She was valedictorian of her kindergarten class, and, for her speech, she threw open her five-year-old arms and exclaimed, "Friends!!!" That was the whole speech, and that was how she lived her life--with arms wide open to countless friends and a big smile that said "I'm happy to be here." She attended high school in Bagley, Minnesota and earned a bachelor's degree in geography from Moorhead State University in Minnesota. She continued with graduate study in geography and received a master's degree from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. In 1979 she moved to Denver and worked for the National Park Service as a cartographer until 1995 when she moved to Port Townsend, Washington to care for her mother and to work as a web developer. For Nancy, Colorado was home. She returned here in 2003 and settled in the foothills northwest of Lyons where she lived in the small bunkhouse next to her friends Jani and Zeke Little and their daughters Anna and Kate. From 2005 through early 2017 she worked as a professional research assistant and information technology specialist in the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. Nancy was a rare spirit: appreciative, funny, generous, tender-hearted, and empathetic. She loved traveling and always looked forward to meeting new people, making new friends, and having new adventures. She delighted in giving gifts, loved to dance, and knew how to accessorize both onstage and off. A gifted musician and songwriter, she wrote well over 100 songs, many of which celebrated her love of the prairie and the West. She wrote songs in a variety of styles ranging from lively and upbeat western and standard swing to cowboy waltzes, heartfelt jazz ballads, and sweet and honest country love songs. She taught songwriting, guitar, and ukulele; recorded a number of albums of her original songs; and was in many bands, including (in Colorado) the Swing Chicks, the Cactus Crooners, Swing State, the Blue Mountain Ranch Hands, Gadzukes!, the Ringtones, and the Complete Unknowns, and (in Port Townsend) Bayou Boogie and the Silver Stars. Nancy spent the last five months of her life in the Boulder home of her friends Susan Rose and Stan Grotegut, where she experienced loving care and enjoyed the frequent company of many friends. She lived her life joyfully, had few regrets, and passed on from this world with grace and dignity. Nancy is survived by her sister Pat Lewis of Minneapolis, MN and brother John (Patty) Thorwardson of Stewart, MN; nieces and nephews Julie and John Lewis, Deanna (Duane) Black, Danielle Thorwardson, Shannon Summers, Jason Thorwardson, and Jarrod (April) Thorwardson; and 17 grandnieces and grandnephews. She was preceded in death by her parents. There will be a celebration of Nancy's life on June 4 from 4 to 6 pm at the Lyons Community Church, 350 W Main St, Lyons, Colorado. Contributions in memory of Nancy can be made to the non-profit music organizations she supported: Weiser Friends of the Fiddle (www.stickerville.org), the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society (www.coloradobluegrass.org), and the Western Music Association (www.westernmusic.org).
Published in The Daily Camera on May 25, 2017
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