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Freda Hartzell

Freda Hartzell, age 91, of Aurora, passed away Thursday, February 2, 2017, at Memorial Community Care.

Funeral Services will be held 10:30 A.M., Monday, February 6th at the Aurora United Methodist Church. Rev. Karla Sheffy will officiate. Interment will be in the Aurora Cemetery. Visitation will be from 4 - 6 P.M. Sunday the Aurora United Methodist Church, 1104 A Street. Memorials may be made in care of the family. Higby-McQuiston Mortuary is in charge or arrangements. Condolences may be e-mailed to the family through the mortuary website at www.higbymortuary.com.


Freda (Pennance) Hartzell was born on September 18, 1925 to Norman and Hilda (Clewes) Pennance in Crewe Cheshire, England. Here she found her love of music, dance and theater and performed in Her Majesty’s Royal Dance Troup. She also performed in the Robinson Crusoe pantomime on stage where she became a regional celebrity.

Following graduation from secondary school, Freda joined the NAAFI (Navy, Army, Air Force Institute) to help with the war effort. During WWII, she served as a spotter while the city was under blackout orders. Freda stood on warehouse roofs watching for incoming bomber planes and alerting authorities so that the citizens of Crewe could take shelter. Additionally, she gave care to wounded soldiers from both sides of the conflict.

During this time, Freda met the love of her life, Gerald Dean Hartzell, from Stockham, Nebraska. They married on August 25, 1945 in Crewe. The couple made their home in Aurora, Nebraska, where Freda was recognized as the first American war bride in Hamilton County. To this union, three daughters were born. Jerry passed away on August 2, 1980.

While in Aurora, Freda worked as a waitress and eventually settled into her position as a clerk in Greg’s Drugs. She stayed with the pharmacy through three owners and two name changes for over 30 years. Freda eventually retired from retail work, when she was well into her 70’s and started her second career in life caring for her great-grandchildren. Also in her early years in Nebraska, Freda passed the U.S citizenship exam, giving her rights of dual citizenship in the U.S.A. and Great Britain.

She enjoyed knitting, reading medical books and magazines, following the lives of the English Royal family, and shopping with her daughters.

She is preceded in death by her parents, husband Jerry, sister Sylvia Bittinger, and special nephew, Neil Salmon.

She is survived by her daughters, Geri Hartzell of Aurora, Gail (Mike) Nelson of Aurora, and Norma (Ross) Peters of Hampton, eight grandchildren, Jeffrey Allen of Tampa, FL; Justin (Jennifer) Klute of Napa, CA; Amber (Brad) Parker of Aurora; Joe (Becky) Klute of Kearney, NE; Becky Graham (and special friend Trevor Towler) of Aurora; Angie (Joe) Burson of Aurora, Denae (Mark) Nuismer of Elkhorn, NE. and Devrie Jo Bradley of Kearney, NE. Great grandchildren include Jordyn, Dylan and Wyatt Parker, Genevieve Klute, A. J., Ryder and Ellie Klute, Peyton and Andrew Graham, Ethan and Tegan Burson and Madison, Tessa, Sydney and Claire Nuismer.

She will be forever remembered for her fierce love of her family. Freda had the soul of a lady, heart of a lioness and the grace of a royal.

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