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Nanette Ann (Naber) Reed passed away on February 5, 2022, surrounded by friends and family at Covenant Glen of Frankenmuth. As a teenager, Nan selected a motto for herself: “Poise is the act of raising the eyebrows rather than the roof.” She personified that motto and lived her life with composure, style, wit, compassion, determination, and love for her family and friends.
Nan was the first child of Aletha (“Lee”) and Warren Naber, schoolteachers who met and fell in love in Trout Creek, Michigan. Nan was born on May 8, 1943, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where she and her mother lived with maternal grandparents Helen and Wesley Vedder, while Nan’s father Warren served in World War II. Less than two years later, Nan’s sister Diane (“Dee”) was born, and soon followed siblings Scott and Kay. The family, with Warren returned from the war, resided in Sidnaw, Michigan, just up the hill from the home of Nan’s paternal grandparents, Ottilia and Warren Naber Sr. There, Nan also grew to know her beloved Uncle Calvin (“Cal”) Naber and Auntie Clare (George) Beauprey. Nan spent her early childhood, always with sister Dee, enjoying Grandma Naber’s cinnamon rolls, delivering farm fresh eggs with Grandpa Naber, and “helping” with chores in a decidedly unhelpful way. Luckily, the chickens survived and, even after she and Dee “watered” the yard – with kerosene that made it glisten in a way they regarded as pretty – nothing caught fire. After a sojourn to Santa Monica, California (presumably unrelated to Nan’s childhood mischief), the family settled in Millington, Michigan, where Nan’s youngest sibling, Dale, was born.
Nan was a wonderful help to her parents, and she assisted in the many chores necessary to run a household of seven people. She was also a girl who dreamed of a future in sun-soaked California. Soon after graduating from Millington High School in 1961, Nan, a notoriously terrible driver known to close her eyes when nervous at the wheel, worked to improve her driving skills, saved up, and – in a car packed with her belongings and accompanied by sister Kay and friend Catherine (Corcoran) Pavley – headed West. In Los Angeles, Nan made life-long friends, welcomed both of her brothers to California, and always knew the best places to take family members who visited. Nan worked for Princess Cruises and in accounting firms, some that catered to celebrities. Nan, ever discrete, liked to share a story concerning a certain member of a certain famous rock band who admired the jacket Nan was wearing and had designed and sewn herself – he insisted on trying it on. It was not Mick Jagger.
After more than a decade in Los Angeles, Nan returned to Michigan. In a private ceremony on Mackinac Island, she married her high school sweetheart and love of her life, Edward (“Eddie”) Reed, and became the stepmother to his three children, Edward Jr., Jon, and Jack. Nan and Eddie together ran the local pharmacy in Millington. Nan, with a penchant for business and expertise in sewing and knitting, also owned and operated a store in Davison, Michigan, where she sold clothing of her own design, for which she won a community business award. After Eddie passed, Nan continued working in accounting and particularly enjoyed her position and knowing her co-workers at the Saginaw Art Museum. Nan had a passion for investing, was a founding member of several investment clubs, and purchased and renovated real estate in Millington and Saginaw. As anyone who ever visited Nan’s home can attest, she was a brilliant interior decorator and host. Her home, decorated for the holidays, was often a feature of Millington house walks, and her dinner parties were like something out of a magazine or movie. Nan collected antiques and rarities, was an avid reader, and enjoyed classic film and traveling. She and Dee took epic trips to Europe, New Orleans, Savannah, Charleston, and other destinations. Nan and her mother Lee regularly lunched and shopped, attended the Stratford Festival in Ontario, and worked together at art shows selling Nan’s Victorian-inspired holiday décor. Nan was proud of her nephew, Jonathon Wenk, amused by her niece, Monica Beck, and cherished both. Nan also adored her fur babies, the many animals she rescued and lavished with the utmost care and attention.
All said, Nan was a cool, collected, and loving style icon, who, until her last years, was usually found with a cigarette in hand. She wore impossibly high heels and could rock a suede pantsuit even at a children’s indoor pool party. She was shy, glamorous, a life-long learner, and generous. She introduced her niece to the beauty of David Bowie and Prince. She was an adventurer. She gracefully persevered after devastation. Nan was a woman who loved to gather at her small kitchen table with those closest to her, smoke cigarettes, cat in her lap, sip wine, share stories, and talk and laugh late into the night.
Nan was pre-deceased by her father Warren Naber; mother Aletha (Vedder) Naber; husband Eddie Reed; sister Kay (Naber) Wenk; brother Scott Naber; Auntie Clare (Naber) Beauprey; Uncle Calvin Naber; Aunt Kathy Naber; and cousin Cindy (Naber) Locey. Nan is survived by her sister and best friend, Dee (Naber) Beck; brother Dale Naber; stepchildren and grandbabies; nephew Jonathon (Colleen) Wenk; niece Monica Beck (Steve Fairbanks); cousins Cliff Naber, Nancy (Scott) Ferguson, Susan (Bill) Swift, and Eric (Katy) Naber; great-nephew and great-niece (Will and Aletha Wenk); friend Cathy (Corcoran) Pavley; wonderful friends and caregivers at Covenant Glen; and other relatives and friends. Her sweet rescue dog, Pippin, has been rehomed.
Nan was a private person. Family is abiding by her wish that there be no funeral or service. If you would like to honor her life, please consider donating to your local art museum, adopting a rescue animal, or making a gift to Best Friends Animal Society, a nonprofit organization that operates the largest sanctuary for homeless animals. In Nan’s memory you might pour a drink and settle in for a nice long talk with someone close to you, just like Nan.
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