CAMBRIDGE—Nancy Ruth Van Valkenberg, age 94, of Cambridge, passed away peacefully on Sept. 5, 2018, at Home Again Assisted Living. Nancy was born on Sept. 4, 1924, in Delavan, to Arthur and Helen (Lillibridge) Schumacher. At age seven, she moved with her family to Mineral Point where her parents owned and operated the movie theater in the Mineral Point Opera House. Nancy graduated from Mineral Point High School in 1942.
A patriotic American woman, on her 18th birthday in 1942, instead of going to college as planned, she began work machining antiaircraft guns for the Navy, at a defense factory in Milwaukee. She was a proud Rosie the Riveter. Nancy later attended UW-Madison for a year, before leaving to raise a family. Nancy was a devoted lifelong Wisconsin Badgers fan, as her famous red shoes attested to.
Nancy married William “Van” Van Valkenberg in 1944. In 1953, they moved with their growing family to Cambridge where they owned and operated Van’s Shoe Store for 33 years. Together, they raised six children, Philip Van Valkenberg (Georgia Kaftan) of Cambridge, Helen Carol Van Valkenberg of Stoughton, Charles Van Valkenberg, Thomas Van Valkenberg, Jane (Don) Woods of Franklin, Tenn., and Laura Van Valkenberg (Gary Meister) of Eagle River. They were delighted to include in their family 11 grandchildren, Geoff Van Valkenberg, Holly Van Valkenberg Davidson, Gabriel Van Valkenberg, Jessica Woods Bunce, Emily Van Valkenberg, Kree Woods Dawson, Kayla Van Valkenberg, Sophia Lorent, Alison Woods, Rosa Van Valkenberg, and Lily Van Valkenberg, plus 13 great-grandchildren. Nancy was preceded in death by her parents, Art and Helen; husband, Van; brother, Don; and two sons, Chuck and Tom.
Nancy loved swimming and, in her youth, was a lifeguard at the Mineral Point Community Pool. In her teens she swam competitively, winning several gold medals in regional competitions. She had hoped to swim for the UW, but at that time, the only water sport for women was synchronized swimming (which wasn’t her jam).
Nancy and Van spent many happy hours together enjoying their screened in porch listening to birds and the early morning quiet. After Van passed away in 1996, Nancy took up quilting and soon became an accomplished textile artist. Nancy always found comfort and joy in the many beloved neighbors and friends she met in her exercise and quilting classes. She once said she had so much fun in her 80’s, after starting her art quilts and meeting for coffee and donuts with her friends at the bakery.
Friends are invited to a Celebration of Life which will be held on Sept. 29, 2018, from 12 noon to 2 p.m., at the AMUNDSON CENTER, 200 Spring St., Cambridge. As an expression of sympathy, please consider a donation in her memory to the Cambridge EMS and Fire Department, or the Cambridge Library.
A special thank you to all the staff at Home Again, for the great care and affection they gave Nancy, to Agrace Hospice, and to Ruthie and Terry Johnson for always helping and keeping an eye out for her.