Nancy "Nan" Elizabeth Thornton of St. Cloud, MN, passed away on July 4, 2022 at St. Cloud Hospital at the age of 67. Born on October 17, 1954, in Alexandria, MN to Joseph and Janice (Schwagerl) Thornton, Nan attended school in Alexandria and graduated from Jefferson Senior High School. She was an honor student and won many awards in speech and theatre.
Nan attended the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree. She attended Washington University in St. Louis, MO where she earned her Master’s degree in Deaf Education. She stayed in St Louis and taught hearing-impaired children at Central Institute for the Deaf (affiliated with Washington University). Later she earned her PhD in Educational Psychology at Arizona State University. After several years teaching in Kearney, Nebraska, Vancouver, Canada and Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, Nan came back to Minnesota and taught instructional design for online learning at Capella University in Minneapolis and later became Faculty Chair for the Instructional Design for Online Learning specialization. At the end of her career Nan became a vital part of Allen Interactions, a training consulting firm in Minneapolis, where she designed online instruction for corporations and taught national seminars in multimedia tools and instructional design for online learning. Countless students benefited from her knowledge and guidance. She was loved by her students and respected by her colleagues. She will be remembered as the educator, the kind and patient mentor with high standards.
Nan was witty, fun, caring, loving, and is described by her family as the reason the Earth keeps turning. She had a way of putting everyone at ease. Generous with her time, her possessions and her knowledge, she was always there, ready to cheer you up, cheer you on, or just listen. She loved children and Cairn terriers, was gentle and kind, and whatever she decided to do, she did it well. She was talented at quilting, needlepoint and sewing. She could mend anything: your finger or your heart, or the nose of your favorite stuffed bear. Nan made and donated blankets to the Cairn Terrier Relief network. She loved antiques and collected many beautiful pieces for her home over the years. Nan had great rhythm and couldn’t help but “boogie” whenever music was playing, especially rock and roll. She loved card games, board games, word games and jigsaw puzzles. She loved baking; she made many delectable treats, “flag” cakes each July 4, and legendary pumpkin bars every Thanksgiving. She was a voracious reader and a long-time library user. She introduced her family to piles of children’s books which have become family treasures.
Nan was fascinated by ruins – Indian ruins, medieval castles, stone circles – and in her travels these were always a destination. She went many times to Europe and enjoyed visiting ancient monuments and learning their history. She knew a lot about Indian ruins in the Southwest US and liked to take friends and family to visit sites she had discovered.
Nan loved Lake Le Homme Dieu – on the shore, on the water, and especially in the water. When she was very young she jumped in the water whenever it was warm enough and didn’t want to come out, earning the nickname “water baby.” She perfected the art of the belly flop and spent hours on end splashing off the end of the dock. She was an avid swimmer all her life.
She is survived by her siblings, Mike (Linda) Thornton and Carol (Tim) Thornton Nash; nephew, Matthew (Véronique) Thornton; great nephew and niece, Marc and Sophie Thornton; and aunt, Elizabeth Thornton. She was preceded in death by her parents.
A time of remembrance will be held on Thursday, August 11, 2022 from 1-3 PM at Anderson Funeral Home in Alexandria, followed by interment at Kinkead Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Cairn Rescue. Donations can be made online at https://www.cairnrescue.com/donate/ in memory of Nan and Nan's dog, Hadley. If donating by check, please send it to CPCRN PO Box 33 Mehoopany, PA 18629 and include Nan's name in the memo.