“I knew a woman lovely in her bones.” (Theodore Roethke) Those eight words come together in just the right way to get at the essence of the woman we knew as Nancy Nissly, age 89, of Perry, IA, who died on Monday, April 16, 2018, at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines. Mass of Christian burial will be held Saturday, April 21, 2018, at 10 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Perry. Visitation will be Friday, April 20, 2015, from 1 to 6 p.m. with family present from 4 to 6 at Carris Family Funeral Home & Cremation Care in Perry. Memorials will be given to St. Patrick's Foundation and the Perry Humane Society and may be left at the Carris Family Funeral Home & Cremation Care.

                Nancy was preceded in death by her husband Donald, her parents, Michael and Nona Downey, and siblings Elizabeth Caufield, Jeanne Ingram, and Bud Downey. Survivors include son Dan (Shelly) Nissly, Beatrice, NE and daughters Mary (Richard Wright) Nissly and Peggy (Gary Silver) Nissly, Dallas Center, IA, grandchildren Michelle Moehlis, Matt (Haley) Moehlis and Jake (Tracy) Nissly, great-grandchildren Oliver, Levi, Milo, and Bobby, and numerous nieces and nephews.

                Nancy’s loveliness chiefly resided in her close connection to nature as well as her compassion which made her the very best kind of confidante. Plants bloomed in her presence. Both indoors and outdoors, Nancy nurtured her garden and it nurtured her, offering the solace and solitude of hands in the soil making things grow.

                But Nancy’s loveliness didn’t stop there. Cats purled about her feet and in her arms. Somehow, they knew she was a soft place to land. Dogs gamboled about her for the same reason—Pootsie, Fideaux and Schatzie to name a few. Birds knew where they could eat, and dear to her were songs of meadowlarks and red-winged blackbirds, those harbingers of spring.

                Children instinctively sensed her difference, her marvelous capacity for whimsy. During her time as a part-time librarian at the Perry library, she maintained a gentle order among the children who showed up every day after school, getting to know the ornery ones and staying one step ahead of them. In her younger years raising three kids, she would sometimes initiate “last tag” challenges, chasing up the front stairs, down the back stairs, twirling a dish towel to give someone a sharp snap and “last tag.” She could also do a mean Woody Woodpecker imitation—but not very often.

                Art was in Nancy’s soul and expressed itself in everything she did—sketching, designing and furnishing her home, baking birthday cakes (and pies) extraordinaire, listening to music of all kinds. Her basic organizing principle was “everything in its right place.” Her wry sense of humor endeared her to those who knew her and allowed her to persevere and to gracefully negotiate “the indignities of aging.” Nancy’s loveliness was unassuming and bone-deep. Hers was “the path less taken” but it made all the difference to those who knew and loved her. Into heaven may the angels lead her.

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