Memorial: Nancy Ring touched many lives with her generous, kind heart |

Memorial: Nancy Ring touched many lives with her generous, kind heart

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Summit Daily file photo/Mark Fox

SUMMIT COUNTY – Compassionate, good-humored, and a dedicated problem-solver with great internal strength – friends and family say Nancy Ring defined these qualities in every aspect of her life. Ring, the longtime Summit County Animal Control director, died shortly before midnight Sunday after a long fight with breast cancer. Her husband, John, was with her.

“The many friends and close working relationships that Nancy developed throughout her long and illustrious career with Summit County government has left a mark both deep and wide for the good of Summit County,” said John Ring, who married Nancy almost 29 years ago. “I definitely know that she will be missed by many, many people and we, as a family, would like to thank from the bottom of our hearts all those who held us so close through a very difficult time.”

According to her friends and colleagues, Nancy Ring helped both humans and animals throughout the community in a career that spanned more than three decades. She also volunteered for nonprofit groups, held positions on committees and boards, and was an active member within Father Dyer Methodist Church. She loved to sing and was a member of Mountain Majesty Chorus.

“There are so many people that love Nancy so much,” said longtime friend Lynn Donovan.

Timberline Adult Day Services director Candace Selk Barnes is one of those people.

“In my personal life and life’s work I have experienced many deaths, but never have I witnessed an individual’s life and death filled with such dignity, kindness, grace and gratitude. Nancy taught me the meaning of life – to be grateful for each day and (to) tell those you love just how much they mean to you as often as you can. She and I used to say we were separated at birth. Her husband John said it much better and we agreed, that ‘Nancy and I were joined in life.’ Her spirit lives on inside of me.”

A road adjacent to the Summit County Animal Control building in Frisco was recently named for Ring – it’s now called Nancy’s Place. Friend and co-worker Donna Corcel said “Nancy and John came here on their way to Denver, and she was able to see the sign. Nancy said “How cool is that?” when she saw it.”

Ring became the Summit County Animal Control director in 1982, and she dedicated herself to animal welfare issues at the local, state and even national level. She was one of the founders of the League for Animals and People of the Summit, and she also was an active leader in developing the Summit County’s Community Animal Response Team.

“As with most people in the animal welfare field, Nancy has a great love for animals,” said Summit County Animal Control supervisor Lesley Hall, who worked with Ring for over two decades. “Through her leadership, she encouraged Summit County citizens to spay and neuter their pets by requiring all pets adopted from the shelter be sterilized. In 1988 our euthanasia rate was 28 percent. In 2008 the shelter reduced its euthanasia rate to 3 percent where it remains today.”

Ring was also active in statewide animal welfare work – she’s served on boards for the Colorado Association of Animal Control Officers and the Colorado Federation of Animal Welfare Agencies, and she was also involved in setting up the state certification program for animal control officers.

In her involvement with the Colorado Federation of Animal Welfare Agencies, Hall said Ring pursued legislative changes in animal cruelty laws by testifying before the state Senate and House of Representatives.

“Because of Nancy’s work and the testimonies from others, the felony aggravated cruelty law was passed,” Hall said.

Ring also worked with other shelters on the Western Slope – Hall said she helped organize mountain-area shelters’ animal-transfer programs, and locally she set up a foster program that helps care for litters of puppies and kittens.

“She’s been a great role model,” said Tasha Hildreth, a shelter technician. “Her persistence about her vision is really inspiring.”

Hildreth also noted that Ring’s natural ability to help animals and people was a gift, and that Ring was a special person who’s held close to her heart.

“(Nancy) remains highly thought of at the state level, and she’s nationally known in the arena of animal control,” said Bob Slagle, who retired as Vail’s animal control director. “She was, and remained up until the very last minutes, a public servant who served all of the community.”

Outside of work, Nancy Ring embraced her life, her family and her mountain town.

“She loved music,” Corcel said, noting that Ring went to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival every year. “Her family was a priority, and the shelter was like a family to her as well.”

Her son Sean Ring said he wanted “everyone to know that my mom died in peace and an extremely happy person, despite the pain and suffering that she was exposed to over the last 10 years. She was a very passionate and compassionate human being. All of the things that she strived to do and become, she did. All of the things in life that she held close and dear to her heart, she had – a loving family, an amazing community, the best friends in the world, her dream job, and the ability to make a difference in other peoples lives. I feel blessed for having been able to be a student to her ways for 27 years. We are celebrating her life, not mourning her death.”

Nancy Ring is survived by her husband, John; children Alyssa Jean Johnson and Sean Wesley Ring; granddaughters Alayna Lauren Ring and Eva Rose Johnson; her father, Al Brandon and his wife Dolores; brothers Reid, Bob and James Brandon; and her pets – a horse named Kobe, two dogs (Skyler and Izzie) and a cat named Kiva. Her mother Jean Cullum Brandon, brother Dave Brandon and sister-in-law Celia Brandon preceded her in death.

A celebration of a life well lived for Nancy Ring is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Silverthorne Pavilion. Ring requested donations be made in her memory to the following organizations: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Timberline Adult Day Services, the League for Animals and People of the Summit and Troublesome Horse Rescue.

For more stories about Nancy Ring, see the story online at

Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at

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