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Nancy Cotting, ’69. 1951-2017
(NOTE: Can anyone tell us what last name Nancy had at SHHS?)


Nancy Lynn Cotting returned home to her Heavenly Father June 11, 2017 from natural causes. Nancy was born June 22, 1951 in Long Beach, California, to Jessie Irene and Richard Dean Hempfling. She was greeted by 2 older siblings, Tommy and Carol, and later helped welcome her younger siblings, Michael and Melissa. 


From a young age, Nancy loved animals and grew up with many different types of pets – the most exotic being a Gibbon monkey and a baby alligator. Her love of animals continued even when her circumstances were such that she couldn't have real animals as pets. She collected quite the assortment of stuffed animals, some of which she loved and cared for just like real ones. Nancy graduated Sunny Hills High School in 1969, and it was around that time that Nancy was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. 


Through mutual friends she met and fell in love with Gary James Cotting. They were married on October 4th, 1975. They settled in Rancho Cucamonga where they welcomed their one and only daughter, Heather Lynn, on August 7, 1977. Nancy was passionate about being a mom and wife. Despite her illness and the challenges that brought, there was lots of love, care, fun, and nurturing. She liked spending her time playing, cooking, cleaning, camping, drawing, writing, exercising, and making memories. She also enjoyed preserving memories. She kept notes of the holidays and how they celebrated. She took many, many pictures and kept details in memory books.


On April 18th, 1981, tragedy struck and her sweet husband, Gary James was killed in a car accident, and she became a widow. She and Heather moved from their home in Rancho Cucamonga, and moved in with Nancy's parents in Cedarpines Park, CA. A little over 1 year later, tragedy struck again and Nancy's father had a heart attack and passed away. His sudden death left a great responsibility on Nancy's mother, and it took an emotional toll on Nancy. Around 1983, Nancy met Randy Kaberlein. They fell in love, and she later gave birth to her one and only son, Lee Thomas, on January 14th, 1984. Due to the worsening of her illness, and unable to care for her children, she went into a care facility and her children were raised by grandparents – Heather was raised by Nancy's mother, and Lee was raised by his father's mother. Nancy spent most of her years residing in care facilities in California from about 1985-2007. For this mother heart, being away from her children was difficult and excruciating. She expressed her heartache in poems she wrote, when the challenges of her illness allowed her to create. She faced so many challenges and hardships in addition and often as a result of her illness of schizophrenia. Yet, she never let the illness dim her passion for life, her vibrant personality, or her love for others. We would learn in the last few days with her, that those qualities broke through the barriers of her illness and shined forth, and touched many lives. 


Nancy was transferred to Utah in 2007 and resided at the Utah State Hospital. This move was a bigger blessing than any of us imagined. Initially, the request to have her transferred came from her daughter, wanting to be closer to her so Nancy could know and be a part of her grandchildren's lives. Nancy adored and was so proud of her grandbabies. She bragged about all of them, how beautiful they were and she smothered them with her “chewy” kisses when we came to visit. Although she was there to be cared for, and looked after by the staff, she did her fair share of loving and caring as well. She touched the lives of those who had the opportunity of knowing her. Fortunately for her and her family, the staff at Utah State Hospital did more than just care for and look after Nancy. They chose to look beyond the ugliness brought about by the illness, and get to know, love and respect the wonderful, strong, woman she was. They loved her unconditionally and were touched by her love, sense of humor, determination, and sometimes fiery temper and feistiness. Her family grew and expanded to include the staff, who we refer to as her “angels on earth”. She was well-known, well-loved, (even spoiled), and will be greatly missed. Her legacy and the impact she had on the lives she touched will go on forever.


She is survived by her daughter Heather Blinzinger (Aaron), son Lee Kaberlein, brothers Thomas and Michael Hempfling, her sister Melissa Sewell (Lance), her grandchildren Olivia, Rees, Noah and Violet, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and her “angels on earth”. 


All are welcome to attend a celebration of her life which will be held at the chapel at the Utah State Hospital located at 1300 East Center Street in Provo, Utah on Saturday, June 24th at 11:00AM. 


In lieu of flowers please consider donating to the Utah State Hospital Forgotten Patients Cemetery Project (website: https://ush.utah.gov/donations/) or to the Animal Welfare Institute 

(website: https://awionline.org/content/make-donation-awi).


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I salute Nancy for her courage, perseverance and hard work for so many years in managing her disease. She lived a full, rich life anyway, and deserves our admiration and prayers.

I’m also grateful to the good people of Utah for the excellent mental health facilities they evidently operate. That is the American Promise fulfilled, to remember and care for all citizens. 

- Paul Saevig, ’67. June 18, 2017