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Kirby remembered for shaping young journalists at NCC

Nancy Kirby

Nancy Kirby

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Updated: November 22, 2012 6:34AM



Longtime North Central College journalism professor Nancy Strunk Kirby is being remembered for the enthusiasm she brought to shaping young journalists.

Kirby, 52, formerly of Aurora, died this month after a two-year battle with cancer.

Klariza Alvaran, current editor-in-chief of North Central’s student newspaper, said Kirby was an enthusiastic advisor to students, and credited her with putting life into the North Central Chronicle.

“I could see how much she cared,” Alvaran said. “Even though I didn’t have that much experience, she was really open to having younger students get involved in helping the paper move forward.”

During her three-decade journalism career, Kirby wrote for the newspaper in her native Anderson, Ind., and several suburban Chicago publications, including The Beacon-News and The Naperville Sun. Most recently at The Beacon-News, Kirby wrote the Troop Talk and Senior Living columns.

Kirby taught English and journalism for 20 years at North Central College in Naperville, leaving the college in 2010. Kirby also taught at Anderson University, Ball State University and Indiana University, according to the Anderson Herald-Bulletin.

Former Beacon-News reporter Jim Owczarski, a 2002 North Central graduate, told the North Central Chronicle that the journalistic principles Kirby taught him “laid the foundation for a fulfilling career... which is something I am thankful for every day I write.”

He said Kirby was open-minded and a “constant source of encouragement” which helped him find his voice as a writer.

“Most importantly, she realized the role The Chronicle played for student journalists. It was a teaching mechanism” Owczarski said. “Nancy also had my back after several semi-controversial stories were published, which was invaluable to the fragile psyche of a green journalist.”

NCC Professor Richard Guzman, coordinator of the master of arts program, said Kirby had an “abiding interest in homelessness, hunger and poverty.”

Kirby married fellow journalist Rick Kirby in 1988, and moved to Aurora soon after when Rick Kirby was hired as an editor at The Beacon-News. She is survived by stepdaughter Kara Berkshire, 29; daughter Megan Kirby, 22; and son Ryan Kirby, 20.

Kirby was born in Anderson, Ind., on Christmas Day 1959. Her parents always made sure she had a birthday celebration that was separate from the holiday, according to the Anderson Herald-Bulletin. She graduated from Anderson High School in 1978; graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Anderson University in 1982; and went on to receive her master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University in 1987.

Memorial contributions can be sent in her name to the Hesed House homeless shelter, 659 S. River St., Aurora, IL 60506, or the Edward Cancer Foundation at 801 S. Washington St., Naperville, IL 60540.



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