Nancy C. “Nan” Branen, 91, Burlington, died Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, at home.
She was born Oct. 27, 1929, in Milwaukee, the daughter of Clarence and Norma (Roestel) Noerenberg. She married William E. “Bill” Branen on June 18, 1949.
The couple moved to Burlington in 1951, when Bill went to work for the then Burlington Standard Democrat newspaper, predecessor to the Standard Press. Over the years, Nan did accounting, ad layout and proofreading for the growing newspaper enterprise. She served as chairman of the board for Southern Lakes Media, Inc. and Walworth Newspapers Inc., parent companies of nine newspapers, partner in Sauk County Media’s newspapers in Reedsburg; and publisher of the Poynette Press and Evansville Leader.
Nan was the second woman to become a licensed pilot in Burlington and flew Bill to many of his national speaking engagements. She also had her seaplane rating, and was a member of the “99ers” women pilots’ organization. She helped establish an Air Explorer Scouts youth club in Burlington and worked on publicity for the EAA Air Show in Burlington.
The Branens were instrumental in the founding of Burlington’s ChocolateFest in 1987 and Nan worked at the festival grounds every year for decades.
She had volunteered at the Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce, and had been a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, Burlington Woman’s Club, Burlington Historical Society, Friends of the Burlington Library, Catholic Central Roundtable and secretary, treasurer and vice president of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation. After Bill’s death in 1988, Nan created the Branen Scholarship, presented annually to award-winning high school newspapers. She also judged Sen. Herb Kohl high school scholarship applicants and judged for the State Historical Society for the “Governor’s Archives Award.”
Her photography hobby led to sales of her work at local stores and donations for auctions and other fundraisers.
The Branens hosted foreign exchange students including Tang Jing Song “Oliver” from China, who stayed with the family throughout much of high school and with their support earned his degree at Milwaukee School of Engineering. The family also welcomed Masahero Yoshimura, from Japan, who became a U.S. citizen, business lawyer and travels the world.
Nan is survived by a daughter, Kathy (Larry) Tobin, Tomahawk, and sons, Bob (Anne) Branen, Stuart, Florida, and Shad (Kristine) Branen, Burlington; grandchildren, Kerry (Stacy) Tobin, Kelly (Brent) Hussong, Jennifer (Wes) Wagner, Nathan Branen, Jessica Branen, Abbey (Bryce) Hendersen and Benjamin Branen; Chloe and Sophie Branen; and eight great-grandchildren, Mason and Callan Tobin; Brynn, Maren and Vayda Hussong; and Sydney, Declan and Camden Wagner.
She is preceded in death by her husband; brother, Robert Noerenberg; sister, Gail Niles; and grandson, Jacob Branen.
Nan donated her body for medical education and research to the Medical College of Wisconsin per her wishes.
The family welcomes donations in Nan Branen’s memory to the Branen Scholarship, Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation, 34 Schroeder Ct., Suite 220. Madison, WI 53711.
Daniels Family Funeral Homes and Crematory, Burlington, assisted the family. A Celebration of Life will be held at a future date.