Cover photo for Nancy McKinney Works's Obituary
1929 Nancy 2024

Nancy McKinney Works

February 21, 1929 — February 9, 2024


Nancy Helen McKinney Works passed away peacefully at her Attic Angel apartment surrounded by her beloved books on February 8, 2024 in Madison two weeks shy of her 95th birthday.


Nancy was an extraordinary woman and lived an amazing life.  She was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother and good friend to so many.


 Mrs. Works was born on Feb. 21st 1929 in the borough of Manhattan, New York City.  She was the daughter of the late Helen Rubens McKinney and her career army officer husband Harry Ellery McKinney.


Mrs. Works graduated from Columbus Georgia High School, Ogontz Junior College near Philadelphia, and the Katherine Gibbs School in NYC and the University of Maryland with honors in 1953 with a degree in Spanish.  She was a member of the Delta Gamma Sorority.


Her love for languages began in Panama, Spain and Uruguay where her army father was stationed.  Over time, Mrs. Works also studied French German, Han Chinese in Beijing and Modern Greek.


She married the love of her life, Bernhard Russell Works from Baltimore on September 12, 1953 in Savannah Georgia.  After bringing up her two children, she returned to academia earning both a Masters and PhD in 1985 from the University of Illinois where her husband was a professor of theatre.


Mrs. Works own career as an (ESL), english as a second language teacher and trainer was spent at the University of Illinois, 29 cities in Spain, Cornell University, Beijing University and Bradley University.  Her work in China and Spain was under the auspices of the US State Department.  She was also awarded a Fulbright scholarship. 


Her main area of expertise was in Listening comprehension teacher training and research methodology.


Mrs. Work’s avocation was supporting young people through the National Society of Arts and Letters. She served as president of the Central Illinois Chapter for two years.


In Champaign Illinois, she was a member of the U of I Women’s Club with a special interest in the Antiques Study Group.  She also was an avid gardener and was of member of the Champaign Urbana Herb Society.


During her years in Champaign Urbana, Mrs. Works was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church.  She was a religious education teacher, primary director and director of Religious education.


In 2007, Nancy and husband Bernie happily moved to Madison Wisconsin to live at Attic Angel Place to be near their daughter.  They enjoyed UW Badger football with season tickets for many years and continued to travel to their condo in Bonita Springs Florida during the Wisconsin winters.     


In Attic Angels, she continued to enjoy a variety of activities including exercise classes, mahjong, swimming and bus trips to area theatre and venues.  She worked in the Attic Angel library and enjoyed collecting antique book ends, elephants, and documenting her family’s genealogy.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Bernhard (2017), parents, Harry Ellery and Helen McKinney, and brother, Lt. Col. Horatio Walker McKinney.

She is survived by her son Lawrence Ellery Works (Maggie-Margaret Mary Madagame) of Ann Arbor, Michigan, daughter Helen Christine Gustafson (John) of Madison, Wisconsin, and grandsons Robert Russell Works and Charles Samuel Works.


A memorial to celebrate Nancy’s life will be held at a later date.  Interment will be in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church cemetery in Highland Maryland where generations of her husband’s family are buried.


We welcome you to share your memories of Nancy here on her Tribute Wall.

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6021 University Ave. Madison

(608) 238-8406





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