Meet Nancy Tipton, BJ ’44
To say Nancy Tipton, BJ ’44, bleeds Black & Gold would be an understatement. She is part of a Mizzou Made family including her husband Jack, BJ ‘47, her father and mother (with three degrees), her stepfather, her brother and many other relatives, including her great uncle, Walter Williams, the founder of the Missouri School of Journalism.
Both Nancy and her late husband Jack have served as ambassadors and great representatives of the University of Missouri here in Colorado. Jack applied his J-school Missouri Method training while serving as the station manager for the CBS affiliate KLZ-TV, now known as KMGH-TV Channel 7, for 28 years. Nancy also applied her journalism degree skills throughout her professional life with the U.S. Army and Denver Post, and her many years of community service.
Immediately after graduating from the University of Missouri in 1944, Nancy moved to Washington D.C. to serve in the U.S. Army in World War II as a cryptographer, though her initial desire was to work for the Red Cross overseas. As a “code girl,” Nancy spent hours behind the scenes of wartime intelligence cracking secret codes that led to the United States’ victory. This work was classified as top secret by the Army; thus, all code breakers were sworn to secrecy. Nancy entered Arlington Hall every day for twelve days straight and spent hours attempting to “get a hit”. Upon matching the code, she would deliver the broken code to her captain and return to her post, continuing to work with what she called “puzzles” until she got another hit. Though she didn’t know it at the time, her first year was spent cracking Japanese code. Once the U.S. won the war, she spent her second year breaking codes – some in Spanish – to reveal the location of many Nazis who fled to South America after their defeat. The Army recruited thousands of women to serve as cryptanalysts, and Nancy’s success demonstrates how women led domestic efforts during the war. In fact, the program was so successful that Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of WWII commemorates Nancy and her cohorts’ leading efforts.
Nancy’s dedication to service was ever-present through her life’s pursuits. After she finished serving in the war, Nancy relocated to Denver, Colorado, where she first worked as a telephone solicitor at Montgomery Ward and was quickly discovered by the Denver Post, where she exercised her education from the Missouri School of Journalism. Though she enjoyed running the Denver Post’s shopping column – what would have been their advertising section back then – Nancy felt called to step away from work to focus on her family and continue her involvement with Meals on Wheels. For 28 years, Nancy delivered meals twice a week throughout the Denver metropolitan area. Though she stepped away from traditional work, Nancy continued to put her journalism degree to use. She supported a myriad of social causes, provided ad hoc PR services to local business owners and dedicated significant time toward consulting for adoption programs. As a mother of four adopted children herself, she felt compelled to share the beauty of the adoption journey with others.
Nancy is also a diehard Tiger football fan and attended games for over 80 years, starting at the age of 10! As a child, she was a member of the Knot Hole Gang, a group of young Tiger fans under 16 years old that sat with the student section. She remembers they wore blue cardboard identification cards tied to a string around their neck, and the ticket price was 10 cents. Even though she lives in Colorado, Nancy visited Faurot Field to cheer on the Tigers until just a few years ago. She was able to see Drew Lock play in the Black & Gold, and now enjoys watching him in a Broncos uniform.
Since graduating, Nancy has found many ways to give back to Mizzou. She recalls when she and her husband formed the first Mizzou alumni chapter in Colorado back in the early 1950s. Nancy’s close family friend Don Faurot—the Mizzou football legend for which Faurot Field is named—was the chapter’s first speaker. At the time, the chapter had 25 to 30 members. Today, nearly 6,000 Mizzou alumni live in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Tigers chapter is the second largest out-of-state chapter and one of the most active chapters. When we established our scholarship endowment in 2015, Nancy was one of our first donors, and she has continued to donate regularly to help provide scholarships to Colorado students attending Mizzou. The Tiptons have been generous donors to Mizzou since 1964 and donated over $7,000! With their help, we have raised almost $91,000.
To learn more about Nancy, check out these resources:
Code Girls by Liza Mundy
Library of Congress
The Denver Channel
To become a donor like Nancy and help Colorado students achieve their dream of attending Mizzou, visit HERE: