Nancy Karen Needham was born on October 4, 1939 at the family home west of Bedford in rural Taylor County, Iowa. Dennis and Violet (Johnson) Needham had four children: Lilian, Glen, Nadine and Nancy. Nancy attended elementary school at Timberlake Country School and then attended High School in Bedford and Ames, Iowa.
Life was not easy for the Needham’s. When Nancy was just a month old her brother Glen died at the age of 15 from a burst appendix. The death of their only son was very difficult on both Dennis and Violet. Dennis died just a few years later when Nancy was just five years old, with his death Violet moved the family to town – Bedford. Violet baked pies for restaurants to bring in some income. Lilian took care of the household and the younger children.
By the time Nancy was a young teenager all of the losses and difficulties in their life took a toll on her mother and Violet entered a psychiatric hospital. Over the next several years Violet would move in and out of the hospital.
When Violet went into the hospital Nancy lived with Bob and Lilian for a while. She then moved to Ames to live with Nadine and Jim. She attended high school and worked for HyVee. Nadine and Jim were planning on moving so they brought Nancy back home to Bedford to live with her mother.
It was in Bedford, at a dance, that she met Bill Hullinger, a college man. He was attracted to her because “she was a good looking little gal and a great dancer!” On June 1, 1957 about a year after they started dating they were married in Corning, Iowa at the Baptist parsonage. For the first few years of marriage they lived with Bill’s folks Lloyd and Clara Hullinger. Clara and Nancy would have their battles over the years but Lloyd was the dad she never had.
Bill and Nancy had four children: Dennis, Bill, Deborah and Jennifer. As Bill went to school and then started teaching and moving through different positions each one trying to make a little more money, Nancy raised the children and made a home. There was even a period of time when Violet lived with them. Over the years they would live in: Winston, MO; Highland, KS; Griswold, IA; Glenwood, IA; Hopkins, MO; Bedford, IA; Kellerton, IA; and Albert City, IA finally at retirement moving back to Bedford to the Hullinger family land.
When you have to list an occupation it says homemaker, but Nancy was so much more than that. In each of those places when the houses were less than liveable, Nancy would work to make them homes. She would fill them with her handiwork, the smell of wonderful meals and would make sure there was always plenty for the wayward guest. Holidays were special times with every nook and cranny decorated.
Her family and her children were the core of her life. For someone whose mother was not fully present – Nancy became the mom her mom never was. She believed her children should have experiences and learn from them. She had a deep belief in what was right. She knew what it was like to go hungry and would not allow anyone in her house to go hungry. She did things like play catch with Dennis to warm up before ball games or bake pies or fix home economics assignments for Debbie and Jennifer. Nancy thought of others before herself and would have given up her own food, medication, and shirt off her back if her children, grandchildren or anyone else needed it.
Nancy taught herself how to sew, embroider, crochet, and paint. She was gifted. There are just no two ways about it – she was an artist and so creative. You couldn’t beat her cooking! Homemade pizza, Spanish Rice, Dinner Rolls, Vegetable Beef Soup, Fried Chicken, and Mashed potatoes to just name a few.
She loved her grandchildren and great grandchildren and there isn’t one that didn’t get one of her handmade blankets. The grandchildren have always been able to get away with a whole lot more than her children. She has been an important part of each of their lives from a young age by allowing them a chance to learn and be loved by her generosity, her faithfulness, strong will and determination.
Nancy went to the Corning hospital on Tuesday, August 30 and on Wednesday morning August 31, after a bath, a massage, a walk in the hall and her hair looking spiffy she peacefully died almost attaining the age of 77.
She was preceded in death by her brother Glen Needham; her parents Dennis and Violet Needham; her in-laws Lloyd and Clara Hullinger; and sister Lilian Barnes.
Left to remember Nancy: her husband of almost sixty years Bill Hullinger of Bedford, IA; Children: Dennis (Nancy) Hullinger of Walnut, IA; Bill Hullinger of Bedford, IA; Deborah (Andre) Porter of Navarre, FL; Jennifer (Douglas) Mattson of Kansas City, MO; Grandchildren: Brandon Hullinger of Kansas City, MO; Mallory Wakefield of Navarre, FL; Ross (Carey Beth) Hullinger of Charlotte, NC; Trey Wakefield of San Antonio, TX; Nate (Maria) Hullinger of College Springs, IA; Brock (Brandi) Hullinger of Charlotte, NC; Kelsey(Cody) Benson of Highlandville, MO; Mara, Lara, Alivia Porter of Navarre, FL; Ciara, Carson, Creed Mattson of Kansas City, MO; Great Grandchildren: Emma, Jack, Luke Hullinger of Kansas City, MO; Nolan Hullinger of College Springs, IA; Audrey Benson of Highlandville, MO; Kepler Hullinger of Charlotte, NC; Avery Hullinger of Charlotte, NC; sister Nadine Gamet; sister-in-law Mary Dowis of Bedford, IA; brother-in-law Bus (Dorla) Hullinger of Germanville, PA; along with many nephews, nieces and friends.
Celebration of Life funeral services for Nancy Hullinger, age 76, Bedford, who passed away Wednesday, August 31, 2016 in Corning, Iowa, were held Tuesday, September 6, 2016, at 1:00 p.m. at the Ritchie Funeral Home in Bedford. Visitation was held Tuesday from 11 a.m. until service time at 1 p.m. at the funeral home. Interment will be held at the Fairview Cemetery in Bedford. Memorials may be directed to the American Heart Association. Memories may be shared at www.ritchiefuneralhome.com. Arrangements were entrusted to the Ritchie Funeral Home of Bedford.
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, January of 2017