“Remembering always that the foundation precept of Zeta Tau Alpha was love, the greatest of all things…”

My name is Kelley Brege and I have the distinct privilege of being Nancy’s sorority sister in Zeta Tau Alpha.

Nancy was a remarkable ZTA lady, full of personality, character, and a real fondness and joy for life. I met her as an incoming alumna, fresh out of college. I remember meeting her for the first time at our Board member retreat in Cat Springs. The minute we arrived to Kathy Wilson’s house, here was this petite older woman with a glass of chardonnay already in hand. She greeted me with her, “Hi, I’m Nancy Burnett… you’re a young thing aren’t you?” That was one of my favorite things about Nancy. She had an uncanny ability to make other people smile and feel comfortable around her. It was something I treasured about her through all my years in ZTA with her. It seems fitting to apply parts of the creed of Zeta Tau Alpha when speaking about Nancy and her impact on others’ lives.

 “To be true to ourselves and to those within and without our circle.”

Nancy was one of the most genuine ZTA sisters I knew. Within the past few years, I would pick Nancy up to attend monthly meetings or book club gatherings. While she had physically slowed down a tad over the years, her mind surely hadn’t. She would have me get her at the front door and by the time we got out to my Tahoe, she was already telling me how insane it was to have a car you had to “climb” into. Knowing our routine, I would get in the driver’s seat and ask Nancy which way she thought it best to go in order to get to our destination. One evening I made the mistake of telling her, “Well, Google maps said we should take Westpark Tollway for this location.” She quickly rebutted with, “Kelley Brege, I have been alive a hell of a lot longer than Google maps, whatever that is, so you listen to me.” Yes, ma’am! J

Since I took Nancy to places on numerous occasions, I had the opportunity to be a first-hand witness of how she interacted with others. She was not only kind and witty to our fellow sisters, but also to wait staff, valet drivers, and the like. She treated each person in the same light, and was a model for other ZTAs, especially young ones like myself.

 “To prepare for service and learn the nobility of serving, thereby earning the right to be served.”

Nancy served Zeta Tau Alpha as a collegiate at Southern Methodist University, and again as an alumna in the Houston Alumnae Association. Nancy was President of our Association twice, and also served as an instrumental part of our show house committee and our newsletter team. It was through my time as Newsletter co-chair, a few years after that eventful board retreat in Cat Springs, that I got to know Nancy at a deeper level. Nancy was in charge of the ZTA news portion of our newsletter; so tidbits about births, engagements, weddings, and deaths of women in the chapter. Nancy did not like formatting the newsletter or really dealing with the technology aspect, so I always told her to just communicate the ZTA news to me as she received it. By month’s end, I would sometimes have 5-7 deaths she wanted reported in the newsletter. Of course we wanted to honor our sisters, but I said, “Nancy, do we have any other happy news?” In true Nancy fashion she responded, “Well, Kelley, do you want me to just make up some fluff?! This is what was reported to me!” As you can see, she was one of the funniest ZTAs I have had the privilege to know. She worked tirelessly to make ZTA projects a success and always did her very best work.

Nancy received the Lone Star award, the Certificate of Merit, and the Zeta Lady award as reflections of her impact on the Houston Alumnae Association. These awards are a mere token, given the impact she had on all of her sisters, in both her collegiate years and beyond.

 “To find satisfaction in being, rather than seeming.”

Possibly my favorite thing about Nancy, as you can see illustrated here, was her ability to be her authentic self at all times. She didn’t apologize for having strong opinions, or shy away from telling the truth. She embraced a life of genuine conversations and shared sisterhood like no other. I was honored to have known her, serve alongside her, and share in her life for even a short time. Thank you for allowing me to share my memories of her with you.