Nancy was born June 19, 1948, to Richard and Joyce (Sieff) Brown and grew up in Bloomington. After high school Nancy earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English at St Olaf College and attended Gustavus Adolphus for her Education degree.
Nancy spent several years as a teacher before beginning in partnership “Heavy Duty Sewing” and continuing her business ownership with her carefully curated gift shop in Lutsen. Her daughter Emily continues that legacy with “Great Gifts” in Grand Marais. Often ahead of her time, it was here Nancy collected goods that represented her values of handcraft, female entrepreneurship, fair trades and regional items. Nancy always had thoughtful ideas for her customers and kindness for all who knew her.
On July 8, 1982 she married Duane “Bear” Cihlar and together they made their home in Grand Marais. She was a long time member of the First Congregational Church and appreciated that community greatly. Nancy was a fierce advocate for literacy and education, spending time involved in developing and volunteering in literacy programs and the schools. She was exceptionally bright and articulate and loved to read. She enjoyed her time in nature and was a lifelong proponent of getting outside and moving, walking most days for most of her life. Nancy was an accomplished seamstress who enjoyed creating. From hand-stitching doll clothes as a child to sewing baby blankets and outfits now handed down generations, knitting sweaters, reinforcing and repairing clothes that had taken a beating from the children, to formal gowns for special occasions, Nancy’s projects were always meticulous. She had an empathetic ear and loved to help others.
Nancy was preceded in death by her son, Joseph Richard Cihlar, in 2003. She is survived by her husband of 41 years, Duane; a daughter, Emily Cihlar (Jeremy Saethre); sister Kathleen (Patrick) O’Neill; nieces Molly O’Neill and Megan O’Neill and their families; brother-in-law Tom Cihlar; nephews Jeff Cihlar and Marc Cihlar and their families; and many beloved relatives and friends.
Services will be held at 11 AM on Saturday, January 27, 2024 at First Congregational Church in Grand Marais. Burial in Maple Hill Cemetery in a private family ceremony. If desired, memorials can be directed to Alzheimer’s research, First Congregational Church, Cook County Care Partners or Carefree Living.