Norma A. (Nan) Brown of Fort Dodge, a devoted wife, mother, Christian and community volunteer, passed away Saturday at the age of 89.

Nan’s blueprint for life was best described in a saying that hung on the wall of her kitchen for years: “The measure of love is love without measure.”

That is how she lived her life, raised four children and volunteered countless hours to make Fort Dodge a better community.

Putting others first was Nan’s way. Rarely did you see her without a smile on her face, or a zest for life. Her love was unconditional.

Inside her well-worn Bible she drew a hand and titled it “How to Pray.” Each finger was labeled, from left to right. The thumb was family, the most important thing. That was followed by church, national leaders and those who were sick. Next to the fifth finger she wrote, “yourself last.”

She was born in Aberdeen, S.D., on December 28, 1930, to Samuel and Mabel (Beebout) Nelson. An only child, her given name was Norma Arvilla Nelson. Her initials became the first name she preferred and the one everyone called her by.

Nan lived in Fort Dodge for the last 68 years of her life. A 1948 graduate of Aberdeen High School, Nan came to Iowa for the first time when she enrolled at Drake University in Des Moines to pursue a broadcasting degree. In one of those classes, taught by legendary professor Jim Duncan, she met Robert C. (Bob) Brown of Fort Dodge.

Their first date was at Peggy’s, still a Drake campus staple, in 1951. Six months into the romance they were engaged in the spring of 1952. Both graduated in May of that year. Nan was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.

Nan and Bob were married on June 29, 1952, at First Evangelical United Brethren Church in Fort Dodge.

Bob went to work for KQTV, then KVFD radio, before being hired as the sports editor of the Fort Dodge Messenger in 1956. Nan put her broadcasting career on hold because the radio station would not hire couples. She went to work for the Sears Roebuck credit department, before staying home to raise a family. From 1953 to 1963, the family grew by four with the arrival of sons Rick, Randy and Roger and a daughter, Renee.

Nan was a member of First Presbyterian Church at the time of her passing. As a member of Trinity United Methodist Church earlier in her life, she did everything from teaching Sunday School to serving lunches and writing the weekly newsletter. She also served as Director for Christian Education there for 23 years, retiring in 1996.

She just had a way of cheering up someone’s day, whether it was baking them cookies, stopping by to say hello or dropping them a note in the mail.

She loved the color blue, cats, reading books to her grandchildren, walking every day (her vanity license plate read WALKMOM), yard work, reading the Messenger cover to cover, attending Fort Dodge Senior High School athletic events and cheering on the Iowa Hawkeyes. Her vices were Ritz crackers, Pepsi and chocolate stars.

Nothing came before her family. With her husband working long hours and traveling from one game to another, Nan often filled the dual role of mother and father and never complained. She taught her kids the value of doing the right thing, even though it may not be the easy or popular choice, and of hanging out with the right crowd.

She took great pride in the accomplishments of her family. Sometimes, it brought tears of joy to her eyes.

She was also a rock when life took an unexpected or tragic turn, and helped her family navigate rough waters with her faith, unsinkable spirit and positive outlook on life.

She tackled life head-on, with grace and her faith guiding her. A cancer survivor, Nan enjoyed giving back to the community she loved through volunteer work, whether it was at her church, serving as a mentor at Cooper Elementary School or working for PICA, which she enjoyed very much. She was also active in PEO and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Nan is survived by her sons Rick (Karon) Brown, Pleasant Hill; Randy Brown, Ames; and Roger (Jackie) Brown, Fort Dodge; daughter, Renee Brown, Minnetonka, Minn.; grandchildren Ben Brown, Blair Brown, Claire Brown, Jane Brown, Jordan Koepke, Jondle Roder, Tia Koepke, Sam (Rachel) Goldson and Zach Goldberg; and a great grandchild, Petra Tillison.

Nan was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; and her granddaughters, Meredith Brown and Natalie Brown.

A visitation will be held from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, August 19, 2020, at Gunderson Funeral Home and Cremation Services. A Celebration of Life will take place at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, August 20, 2020, at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Dodge. Interment will take place at North Lawn Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be left to the family.