Nelle Mae (Weir) (Mangen) Fankhauser passed away in her home, Tuesday, August 6th, with her family by her side. She was born April 23, 1925 on the family farm, outside Hazelton, Kansas to Arthur Garfield Weir and Margaret Manetta (Clark) Weir. Nelle’s name was spelled wrong on her birth certificate by the doctor who delivered her and she spent her lifetime correcting people on the spelling.
She attended King’s College country school near the family farm, in Barber County, and then attended Hazelton Grade School and 2 years of high school. She attended Kiowa High School the last 2 years of her schooling so she could increase her piano skills, living with her piano teacher during the week and going home on weekends. After high school, she attended Salt City Business School in Hutchinson, Kansas and graduated in 1944.
Nelle was employed at the US Naval Air Station, Hutchinson, where she met Thomas John Mangen, a young man who was stationed there from Minneapolis, Minnesota. They married at Saint Teresa’s Catholic Church in Hutch on June 13, 1945. When Tom got out of the Navy, they lived a short time in Minneapolis where their son, Thomas Gordon Mangen, was born in 1946. Tom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1949 and Nelle promised to take care of him at home as long as possible so he could watch his children grow. They then moved near Lawrence, Kansas so Tom could attend the University of Kansas Pharmacy school. The family lived in Sunflower, Kansas government housing for the munitions plant during the war. Deborah Lea “Debbie” Mangen was born, in Lawrence in June of 1950. They had moved to Anthony in December of 1950 to be nearer to Nelle’s parents. Tom died in the home Feb. 4, 1960. 1 month later, her parents moved into her home, so she could care for her mother, who had a broken hip. A common theme with Nelle was “We take care of our own” and her last days were filled with Debbie, Shawn and Chelsea by her side.
She wed Dale Evert Fankhauser in Anthony in 1965 and they were married 42 yrs. Nelle also took care of Dale in his declining years.
After Tom died, Nelle went to work for the Paul Coglizer Agency as a bookkeeper, and at Norma’s Dress Shoppe. She went into business for herself and ran the children’s clothing store, Tots and Teens, for a few years. After she married Dale, she became the bookkeeper at Fankhauser Motors and held that position until they closed the dealership in 1996. Nelle was also part owner of Pride of the Prairie Quilt Shoppe where she and her daughter, Debbie spent 26 years teaching people to make beautiful quilts, while making many quilts herself. It was a labor of love and she enjoyed being there with all the customers. After Debbie and Shawn were injured in an auto accident, Nelle made Debbie move in with her so she could provide for her until Debbie got back on her feet.
Her passion in life was following all sports, from Little League to the pros. The Kansas Jayhawks were Nelle’s favorite team, especially KU basketball. You would always see her wearing a KU basketball or football t-shirt. She was also a lifelong fan of Notre Dame football and often talked about laying in bed as a little girl, listening to their games on the radio.
Nelle enjoyed her time on the farm, and filled many hours telling stories of her younger years there, especially during harvest times. She also loved gardening, sewing, crocheting, knitting, piecing quilts, attending her grandchildren’s sporting and school events and traveling throughout the United States. She also traveled to several other countries in her journeys. Her favorite was Ireland in 1985.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Arthur and Maggie, sister Florance Lillian, and brother Frank William; both who lived only a few days after birth, and a brother, Glenn Weir. Husbands Thomas and Dale also preceded her.
She leaves behind son Tom, and his children George, Sam and Kelley and 2 great-granddaughters; daughter Debbie, and grandchildren Shawn Catlin and his wife Kate of Kansas City, Missouri, Chelsea Gomez and her husband Patrick, of Kansas City, Kansas. Great-granddaughter Maya Margaret Gomez, step-great-granddaughter, Sophia Cagley. She also leaves a close family friend, Lisa (Swonger) Parsons and her family.
Per Nelle's request private family services will be held.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Heartstrings Animal Advocates Inc., a 501c3 tax deductible group, and may be sent in care of the funeral home.
Prairie Rose Funeral Homes, 602 E. Main St., Anthony, KS 67003, is in charge of arrangements. www.prairierosefuneralhomes.com