CHARLESTON, IL - Nancy A. Hesler, 89, of Charleston, passed away peacefully on Tuesday morning, November 17, 2020, at her Arbor Rose of Charleston residence. Visitation will be held from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 5, 2020 at Adams Funeral Chapel in Charleston. Her Memorial Mass, to be conducted at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, 921 Madison Avenue in Charleston, will follow at 11:00 a.m. with Father Braden Maher presiding. Her Graveside Committal Service will follow at Harmony Cemetery located north of Greenup, Illinois. To protect everyone, the family requests that masks be worn and physical distancing guidelines be followed.
Memorials in her honor may be made to St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church or the Charleston Public Library and may be left at the Memorial Mass or mailed to Adams Funeral Chapel, 2330 Shawnee Drive, Charleston, IL 61920.
Nancy was born February 15, 1931 in Charleston, daughter of the late Ernest W. and Pauline (Martin) Inyart. She married Kenneth E. Hesler on December 22, 1951 at the St. Charles Borromeo Church Rectory in Charleston. They were blessed with almost 68 years of marriage prior to his death on November 24, 2019. One daughter, Denise, of Ballwin, Missouri, survives her parents. Nancy is also survived by her brother, Robert Inyart of Charleston; her sister’s husband, Stan Namovicz, of Takoma Park, Maryland; and numerous nieces and nephews. In addition to her parents, Nancy was preceded in death by her sisters Helen Ernestine Inyart of Charleston and Gene Inyart Namovicz of Takoma Park, Maryland, and by her brother’s wife, Elizabeth Inyart of Charleston.
Nancy was a life-long resident of Charleston. As a result, she was one of the few remaining Charleston citizens whose school diplomas were all issued by EIU. In 1938, her parents enrolled seven-year-old Nancy in the Eastern Illinois State Teachers College Training School. She continued her education on Eastern’s campus through her college years, graduating from the Training School in 1944, the Teacher’s College high school in 1948 and Eastern Illinois State College in 1952. She returned for graduate study at Eastern Illinois University in 1964-65. During college, she was a proud and dedicated member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority.
She taught home economics and general science in the Edgar and Cumberland County high schools until her daughter Denise was born in 1958. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, it was the norm for women to stay home with the children while their husbands worked, but Nancy was hardly a stay-at-home mom. She was an exceptional wife and mother, caring deeply for her family and community through active participation.
A lifetime parishioner of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Nancy volunteered help for rummage sales, dinners, and holiday events. She served as a lector, president of the St. Charles Women’s Council, member of the St. Vincent DePaul Society and St. Cecelia Circle and a recorder at the church library. The We Care Group, which offers meals after funeral Masses, benefited from her leadership, and she assisted with the children’s Vacation Bible School.
Nancy loved sharing with her extended family, both Hesler and Inyart. She enjoyed investigating her family tree and was delighted whenever she found a new branch or discovered a long lost relative. She spent hours compiling the genealogical information into formats gratefully collected by other family members. Nancy also gathered the birthdates of all Hesler and Inyart relatives, recorded them on perpetual calendars and sent them to family. Those calendars can still be found hanging in homes from Illinois to Maryland.
Nancy felt strongly that regular exercise was important. She walked regularly around Charleston in all kinds of weather. She adored reading too, serving nearly 40 years with the Charleston Reading Circle as a member and an officer. She gave time and attention to the Charleston Public Library where she was instrumental in establishing a memorial Author’s Corner in remembrance of her sister, Gene.
Travel was another one of Nancy’s pleasures. Following her husband’s retirement, the family traveled extensively not only in the United States but in England, France and Belgium by plane, train and ocean liner. Ken and Nancy, along with Denise at times, retraced the European portion of Ken’s war-time experiences, riding trains and walking to small but memorable towns whose names appear in big type only in the history books of war. Trans-oceanic trips by plane and ocean liner became a familiar way of life, as did living in cold London flats, crossing the English Channel by ferry, riding the on-time European trains and spending weeks on the Riviera visiting the small, romantic towns that dot the coastline. Nancy’s favorite place to visit in the United States, however, was just outside Washington, D.C. in Takoma Park, Maryland where her sister lived.
Nancy will be missed by all who knew her and were touched in different ways by her kindness, her acts, her words, and her spark. Her life was diminished in her last three years by a struggle with Alzheimer’s but her spirit and smile were always present through her final days.
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