School 14

Dr. Nancy E. Allen (Jurenka)

April 12, 1937 ~ March 1, 2023 (age 85) 85 Years Old

Dr. Nancy Allen (Jurenka) Obituary

Dr. Nancy E. Allen (Jurenka), PhD, 85, longtime Ellensburg resident and CWU Professor Emerita in Reading Education, passed away on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 at the KVH Hospital in Ellensburg.  A memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, March 17, 2023 at Grace Episcopal Church in Ellensburg.

Nancy Allen was known in her academic career as Dr. Nancy Jurenka, her former married surname.  She was born on April 12, 1937 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, the youngest of three daughters born to Alice (nee’: Niece) & John Gerald “Jerry” Allen.  She grew up in the small village of Scotland, Pennsylvania where she attended elementary school and then graduated from Chambersburg High School in 1954.

Nancy continued her post-secondary education at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1958. She went on to earn her Masters from Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Connecticut in 1963 and her PhD in Education from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana in 1978.  

Nancy’s first teaching assignment was in Ridgefield, Connecticut from 1958 to 1966 before accepting a position in the summer of 1968 as the Curriculum Coordinator of the Title I Program in Las Vegas, Nevada.  She continued as a classroom teacher in Las Vegas from 1967 to 1969 before moving to California where she worked as a classroom teacher and later a reading specialist for the El Rancho Unified School District from 1969 to 1974.

In 1975, Nancy moved to the midwest where she served as an instructor at Indiana University for one year before moving to Cleveland, Ohio where she was a research associate at the Educational Research Council of America. In 1981 she was appointed Chairperson of the Education Department at Chapman University where was also the Founder and Director of the Conference on Education at Chapman. She also served as an Associate Professor and Director of the International Reading and Learning Center/Thompson Reading Clinic with Chapman from 1978 to 1989.

Nancy’s final move was to Ellensburg in 1989 when she joined the faculty at Central Washington University as a professor in the College of Education.  She taught at CWU for 18 years before her retirement in 2007.  Her specialty was in the area of, as she would say with a smile, “teaching teachers to teach reading”.  During the scope of her time with CWU she also authored several books on the topic of her academic specialty. 

Nancy had an infectious personality, would light up the room and always looked on the bright side of things.  She was recognized as a Master Gardener for many years, and was famous in the valley for her beautiful rose gardens and cherry trees at the “Book Nook Farm” on Manastash Road. In 2013, Nancy sold her home on Manastash and moved into town, residing at The Willows before moving to Pacifica Senior Living in August 2021.

Nancy adored her pets - mostly her cats but also her beloved blue heeler, Atticus, named after Atticus Finch from “To Kill a Mockingbird”.  In fact, all of her pets were somehow named after a legal character from great literary works.  Nancy was also a longtime member of the Kittitas County Democrats and Democratic Women’s Club.

Nancy is survived by her nephews Jim (Nancy) Hauber of Hagerstown, Maryland and Sean (Susan Rubb) Hauber of Jefferson, Maryland; niece Cheryl (CJ) Sichler of State College, Pennsylvania as well as seven great-nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; niece Susan (David) Nolan and sisters Alice Grieves Allen (aka Sister Margaret) and Phoebe (Fred) Hauber.

The family wishes to give special thanks to Nancy’s longtime friend and colleague, Andrea Sledge, for all of her special care and support over the years.

Memorial contributions in Nancy’s honor are suggested to FISH Food Bank or to the Ellensburg Animal Shelter.

Johnston & Williams Funeral Home and Crematory of Ellensburg has been entrusted with caring for Nancy and her family.  Online condolences may be left at 

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Memorial Service
March 17, 2023

1:00 PM
Grace Episcopal Church
1201 N. B Street
Ellensburg, WA 98926


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