JOLIET – Nancy Todorovich Ferencik ‘s main aspirations were to be a wife and mother.
And she was a good wife to Mark Ferencik and good mother to Lauren Ferencik, said Nancy’s sister, Nicki Todorovich Blowers of Joliet.
But Nancy, of Joliet, also had a huge heart.
And the love from that heart overflowed to other family members, her church community and anyone who needed her help. Nancy gave of herself and her prayers – she even prayed for an end to cancer, Nicki said – until that loving heart suddenly gave out May 13.
Nancy was 49.
“She was the one who prayed,” Nicki said. “There’s always someone in a family that prays, and that was Nancy. I said to my daughter, ‘Who’s going to pray for us now?’ ”
With family ties to St. Joseph Catholic Church and its former school, which Nancy attended, Nancy worked church events, served on the school board and aided the third- to fourth-grade class in the religious education program.
“She made sure she could spread God’s word through his children and doing so in a humble manner that did not call attention to herself,” Nicki said in an email.
In addition to Relay For Life, Nancy also participated in walks to raise money for multiple sclerosis research in honor of a family member with the disease and helped out at the academy where Lauren took dance classes, Nicki said.
Nancy did not like to see people suffer, Nicki said, but she had enough empathy to meet them in their happiness and in their sorrows.
“She celebrated the joyous occasions and she cried when the sad things happened,” Nicki said. “She supported us in our dreams and daily life. She gave of her time, she gave of her talents, she gave of her love. She didn’t get awards or applause at the end of the day but she deserved awards, she deserved recognition.”
Jackie Newberry of Joliet, who knew Nancy for 45 years and participated in the same Relay For Life team that Nancy did, said friendship was paramount for Nancy.
“She was near and dear to me, but not only me,” Jackie said. “Her family was important to her, but her friends were equally important. It was all about family and friends to her.”
Nancy was only 13 when her mother died, and she was 18 when her father died. Nicki said she, Nancy and their brother, Richard D. Todorovich Jr. – known as Buddy or Dan – became very close, but Nancy also wanted to prove she could stand on her own.
“She was very independent,” Nicki said.
So Nancy worked hard all her life. She worked at the former Photo Works in Joliet, at McJunkin Corporation in Joliet as a receptionist and with inside sales, at Joliet Junior College part time as a secretary and then for the Diocese of Joliet as an administrative assistant for Sister Judith Davies, chancellor for the diocese.
“She liked working for the diocese,” Nicki said. “It was like a big family, a lot of fellowship.”
In a voicemail, Davies said that Nancy was a delightful person: gracious, sweet, kind, even-tempered, cooperative and positive, no matter what the day presented.
“She was very happy to be of service,” Davies said. “She was very generous with her time. When the other areas of the building needed help, she would always be willing to lend some assistance. I think she was loved by everybody.”
The timing of Nancy’s death was heartbreakingly poignant. It meant Nancy wasn’t physically present for Lauren’s high school graduation May 27, Relay For Life on June 4 or St. Joseph’s Homecoming Fair on June 26.
Nancy did have invitations ready for Lauren’s graduation party June 18, but that was hard, too.
“We had to open them up and put on my phone number to respond,” Nicki said.
Nancy missed Lauren’s dance recital June 9, but organizers didn’t forget Nancy. One seat, Nicki said, had this sign: “Reserved for Nancy Ferencik.”
“And there were flowers on the seat,” Nicki said.
• To feature someone in “An Extraordinary Life,” contact Denise M. Baran-Unland at 815-280-4122 or