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Winnifred "Winnie" Kopanger

December 12, 1920 - December 02, 2019


Boulger Funeral Home

Winnifred "Winnie" Kopanger

December 12, 1920 - December 02, 2019


Winnie was born in the family farmhouse on December 12, 1920 in Traille County, Hillsboro, ND to Selma Opheim Kopanger and Joseph C. Kopanger. The land was homesteaded by her grandfather Jens Kopanger from Kaupanger, Norway. Much of her life revolved around the farm and her family, and however far she traveled, she always traveled back home to North Dakota.

She graduated from Hillsboro High School, and then studied nursing at St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing in Fargo, North Dakota and received her RN diploma in 1942.

Winnie served in WWII and she received U.S. Army Air Nurse Corp basic training and diploma in March 1945, and a commission to Second Lieutenant prior to her basic training at Camp Carson, Colorado. She served as a general duty staff nurse for 9 months overseas in the Philippines and occupied Japan.

She attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN from 1947-1949, prior to receiving flight nurse’s training in the Air Force Nurse Corps in Gunter Air Force Base, Alabama in 1951. She received nurse flight wings for Air Evacuation. She served 14 months in general duty at Holloman AFB and Gunter AFB. She retired honorably as a First Lieutenant.

She attended the University of North Dakota and earned a composite major and minor Bachelor of Arts degree in Natural Science. She loved learning, and also attended Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas and the University of Nevada in Reno, NV. She continued her education throughout her life, earning additional technical expertise as a Certified Pathologist and Certified Medical Technologist.

She was a popular nurse, requested by patients and doctors alike, but she did not wish to oversee others. She turned down an offer to become Supervisor at the Hillsboro Community Hospital in 1956. During her career, she nursed privately and publically at the Washoe County General Hospital and Medical Center in Reno, NV; Mercy Hospital in Roseburg, OR; St. John’s Hospital in Fargo, ND; in the St. Michael’s Hospital, University of ND Dispensary, and Deaconess Hospital, at Grand Forks, ND; Community Hospitals in Hillsboro, ND and Mayville, ND, St. Francis Hospital and Stormont Vail Hospital both Topeka, KS; and St. Mary’s Hospital in Reno, Nevada. Her work history shows her desire to be near her home of Hillsboro, her three sisters’ families in Reno, NV, and Topeka, KS, and take advantage of new training opportunities in her field.

Winnie loved to snow ski, so much that she had her own set of skis and took them with her everywhere. Her nieces remember her first car was a turquoise Nash Rambler, but once she switched to T-birds, she was hooked and never bought another make of car. She always drove herself, making trips between Hillsboro and Topeka, KS and Hillsboro and Reno, NV well into her eighties before ill-health finally forced her to give up the keys.

She loved cats, and even when she moved off the family farm to a small apartment in Hillsboro, she brought “Muffin” from Reno with her. Muffin became her companion cat.

Winnie is preceded in death by her parents, her sisters Muriel Orvetta Mast (Clyde), Juletta McGwin (Max), and Naomi Dagmar High (William), her nephew Daniel Joseph Kopanger High, and her niece Darcy McGwin Duhon of Reno, NV. She is survived by her nephew Marshall Mast (Sarah) of Las Vegas, NV; her niece though marriage, Deborah Johnson High (nephew Dan deceased); Nieces Sammy High Tolbert Peck (Ed) of Topeka, KS; Julie High Thompson (Stan) of Topeka, KS; Shelly McGwin Stowell (Shelly deceased in 2021) (Jim deceased) of Reno, NV; and many grand nieces and nephews.

Her graveside memorial service will be at Riverside Cemetery, Hillsboro, ND, when COVID travel restrictions are lifted and the family is able to travel to ND. Winnie’s remains have already been placed in the Kopanger family plot.
Donations may be made to:

Hospice of the Red River Valley
1701 38th St S
Ste 101
Fargo, ND 58103-4499 or

Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (Due to the several folks who gave of their time and hearts to help our Aunt Winnie)
204 E Caledonia Ave.
Hillsboro, ND 58045 or

Homeward Animal Shelter
1201 28th Avenue North
Fargo, ND 58102


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7 responses to “Winnifred Kopanger”

  1. Gerry Lee Rostberg Lucht says:

    Winnie was such a special lady, and one that our family held in high esteem. We enjoyed her visits to my mom, who was her cousin. She accomplished much in her lifetime. Even though she has passed away, we have good memories of her!

  2. Sammy E. Peck (Selma) says:

    My favorite Aunt. Always ready to do anything her nieces wanted to do that their mom didn’t have time to do.
    Special lady.

  3. Julie High Thompson says:

    Winnie was beloved by her two nephews and four nieces. All of us experienced her love of fun and her gift of her time and adventure with us. Our memories of Aunt Winnie are vast as we all experienced who she was firsthand. Always the favorite Aunt to myself and my siblings and most likely to our cousins too. She will be missed! Julie

  4. Virginia Lien Cairns says:

    My grandmother Jo Lien was a lifelong resident of Hillsboro and a friend of Winnie’s for many years (Jo passed away in the mid 90s). Whenever I came to visit my grandma in the summers during the 1970s and 1980s,we always went out to visit Winnie. She was such a unique person and so full of life and energy. I will always remember her cats out at the farm and her beloved Thunderbird. What a great local treasure she was.

  5. Laurie Thompson says:

    I remember my mum, Sally Thompson, taking me out to her farm to have coffee with Winnie. She was such a beautiful lady, both inside and out. She was very bright and very ahead of her time! I remember her conversations were so enlightening and really made you think and question what was going on in the world. I’m thankful that I got to know her. I think part of my love of animals and advocating for them came from Winnie! I’m happy to see an animal shelter on her donation list. I will donate to them! I’m so sorry for you loss, much love, Laurie Thompson

  6. Selma ( Sammy) E Peck says:

    Our Aunt Winnie was our favorite aunt. She visited often, lived with us for a while and was always up for going to the top of capital dome in Topeka. Once we went twice in one day! That was awesome! She will be missed. My favorite gift at Christmas was always from Aunt Winnie. Whatever she sent never cost over a dollar but was always fun. Once she gave me a book of famous paintings for my birthday. Still my favorite book. Yes, I still have it. You will be missed Aunt Winnie. We will be seeing you again, probably sooner than later.

  7. Ivan and Gerry Lucht says:

    We’re amazed, reading Winnie’s obituary, about her life, her love of learning! She was quite a lady! We remember that she usually dressed in black, with perhaps a touch of red.

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