Nancy Jane McDonald Brachman, 94

Nancy Jane McDonald Brachman, 94, died on April 10, 2017.  A long-time resident of Allegan, she moved to Kalamazoo in 2006 and enjoyed living in Friendship Village, where she was very active.  
Nan was born Oct. 22, 1922, in the Detroit area, the daughter of Raymond and Eva (Nesbitt) McDonald, and grew up across the street from Peter Brachman, whom she married in 1942. They moved to Allegan a few years later to set up his medical practice and raise their family.
Nan was a great "doctor's wife"-she listened well, kept others' confidences and always looked on the positive side. She was an active part of the Allegan Hospital Service League and candy striper program, and helped start Wings of Hope Hospice.  
Nan was a good friend to many of all ages, and a role model to her daughters and many of their friends. She loved hearing about lives different from her own from people who looked, sounded and lived differently than she did.  
She was an avid reader and an "active listener" before the term was coined! Volunteering wherever she saw a need and had an interest, she especially found satisfaction in being Mrs. B to the kids at Dawson Elementary School who needed a bit of extra attention.  
After moving to Friendship Village, she became involved in a program jointly hosted by Western Michigan University and Friendship Village. This program paired an elder with a student who needed someone to talk to. These students were often from immigrant families or at risk in other ways of not finishing their education. She loved this contact and encouraged other elders to participate. Her first student is in nursing school and working at Friendship Village. She often visited Nan after her shift was over.  
Bright colors became her theme and made her slightly notorious! She started this trend by painting dabs of gold paint on almost anything that didn't move fast enough. She then painted on "big" shirts and made large, bright beads for bracelets and necklaces-envied by many. When she moved to Friendship Village the first thing she did was have her apartment painted-purple and lime green! She had to leave her door open because so many residents and their families wanted to see the result. It was stunning.
Nan enjoyed her family and kept in touch with all of them.  After moving to Friendship Village, she learned how to email and skype to make this easier, from Thailand to Africa and everywhere in between.  She even "lurked" on Facebook to keep track of what was happening in their lives-and the lives of their friends.  
Always encouraging, never critical, the only parental thing that her daughters remember her saying as a guide was: "If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you? Think about it first."  
She was Nan to her friends and her brother Ray; mom to Stacey (John) Guthrie, Ellen (Peter) Altamore and Lisa Brachman; gramma to Laura (Jim) Ragonese, Jeff Ward, Michael Altamore and Mark and Christine Guthrie; and GGB to Cody and Kaelyn Ragonese.
She'll be missed by us all, but anytime we need her we can just follow the dabs of gold paint...
In accordance with Nan's wishes, cremation has taken place and there will be no memorial service.  If you'd like a way to remember her, please consider a donation to Wings of Hope Hospice, 530 Linn St., Allegan, Michigan 49010 or Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, 222 N. Kalamazoo Mall, #100, Kalamazoo, MI 49007.
 

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