Nancy Marie McCalla ~ Carbondale July 5, 2020

Nancy McCalla passed the morning of July 5th, 2020 to a new and better life.

Nancy was born April 7, 1955 in Carbondale the daughter of the late Emory David and Mary Imogene (Bain) McCalla.

Nancy was first diagnosed with cancer in 2016 and underwent cancer treatment at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, UT. She fought it and beat it! But it returned and ultimately ended her life at the young age of 65.

After her initial cancer treatment, she returned to Carbondale and her work of nearly two decades with the Southern Illinois University, where she herself earned her degree in 1990 and became the first in the family to earn a college degree. She worked for the SIU college of agriculture. She took pride in her work, making sure her people – faculty, staff, and all students – were taken care of. She loved her Saluki family and would defend any one of them to the end of the earth.

More than anything however Nancy loved her two sons. She lived for her boys.

Nancy was always the fun mom who all her kids’ friends loved to hang around. She herself was a kid at heart until the very end. Nancy taught her sons to work hard and dream big. As a single mom, she made sure her boys knew how to treat a lady.

Gary, her oldest son, remembers growing up with hot dogs and pork and beans (Showboat brand), “nothing sandwiches”, milk toast and watermelon on the menu. Gary will always remember the good times but will most cherish their time talking for hours through her cancer treatment. Those were sacred times that reconnected them in a beautiful way.

Jeffrey, Nancy’s youngest son, fondly remembers how Nancy was always interested to hear about what he was learning in school, and how they would frequently speak for hours on a wide variety of topics, a tradition that would continue after he moved away from home. Nancy sacrificed everything to support her children, instill in them good morals, and strived to ensure that, most of all, they always knew that they were loved immensely.

Nancy is survived by her sons: Gary Eugene (Tiffiny) McCalla and Jeffrey David McCalla; sister Mary Geraldine Soeka; brothers David Michael and Douglas Eugene McCalla; grandchildren Madelyn Louise McCalla, Samuel Chase McCalla, Kaleb Joseph McCalla, Ethan David McCalla and Alayna Marie McCalla; nieces Patricia Radtke, Michelle Patula, Courtney Chan and Brandi Pachter and nephew Bill Radtke.

She is preceded in death by her parents Emory David and Mary Imogene McCalla and her brothers Jonathan Louigi and Gary Dale McCalla.

Nancy was independent, strong, selfless, supportive, kindhearted/compassionate, loyal/dedicated and a believer in Jesus Christ.

A former student worker of Nancy’s shared a quote that summarizes well the feelings of those that knew her best

“We had good days and bad days together, but at the end of the day I always knew Nancy was caring and supportive. Her sassy self will truly be missed.” Until we meet again.

Services will be held at Walker Funeral Home in Carbondale on Thursday, July 9 at 10:00 AM. Interment will be at Murdale Gardens of Memory in Murphysboro.

Memorials can be made to the “Nancy McCalla Memorial Scholarship” to the SIU Foundation, Attn: Shane Bennett, 1205 Lincoln Drive, MC 4416, Carbondale, IL 62901


  1. Dwight says

    Nancy was a great member of our Department. She was committed to our students and did all of the little things that made them feel at home. Nancy will be greatly missed by everyone here. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this time.

  2. Mayowa Olaoye says

    I can’t believe you’re gone Nancy. The first time I spoke with her over the phone when I was back home In Nigeria, she was so sweet and softspoken. She played a major factor in my coming to America for my graduate degree. She was a mother to all the graduate students. Being the first point of contact, Nancy did a fantastic job in making all the International students feel welcomed and safe.
    We lost a rare gem! Till we meet again on the resurrection day Nancy!

  3. Ruth Hambleton says

    I was sadden to learn of Nancy’s passing. Such a wonderful and strong gal! We shared so many conversations. I’ll miss that most about her. Prayers for the family; God give rest to Nancy’s soul, and peace to the family. God bless.

  4. Angela Kazakevicius says

    My sincerest condolences go out to Nancy’s family. She did talk of you often and was very proud of you. I will dearly miss her and our talks about SIU, the ABE Dept., our sons, or just great places to walk around campus. Her knowledge, experience, work ethic, and unlimited helpfulness will be irreplaceable and not forgotten. Again, my deepest sympathies.

  5. Phil Eberle says

    I am sad to hear of Nancy’s passing. She was very helpful to students and me as a former faculty member. I send my sincerest sympathy to her family. Although I have not met Gary, I recall Nancy sharing stories of her trips to Utah to visit Gary and his family. I did have the fortune of meeting Jeffrey at a lunch in his honor for being the top student in my wife’s class. On occasion when I visited the office in my retirement, I would always ask Nancy how Jeffrey was doing and she was always pleased to share Jeffrey’s latest experience. My prayers are with all of Nancy’s family at this time.

  6. Harika says

    It’s truly quoted that “she took pride in her work, making sure her people – faculty, staff, and all students were taken care of.” She really enjoys for work, does it with whole-hearted.

    I pray for her soul to rest in peace… Miss you Nancy

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