Cover photo for Nancy Van Tol's Obituary
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1955 Nancy 2022

Nancy Van Tol

October 28, 1955 — March 13, 2022


Nancy B. Van Tol passed away on March 13, 2022 at home after a long illness at the age of 66.

Nancy was proudly born and raised in Memphis, TN to the late James & Eula Goree Burkhead. Leaving Memphis & after a quick stop in Middleton, TN she settled in Jackson, TN where she earned her BS Degree at Lambuth College (now University).

Following stints that included but were not limited to working as a Med Tech, the manager of a bookstore, a bartender & a production worker, she began work at the UT Experiment Station (now West Tennessee Research and Education Center) as a Research Associate in 1990. While employed as a Research Associate she began work on her Master's Degree in Entomology (you didn't want to get her started on the difference between bugs & insects) which she completed in 1997 following 9 months in Knoxville, TN. As a native Memphian, Nancy never warmed to UT sports but was extremely proud of her association with UT's School of Agriculture. Nancy retired following 25 years of service with the University.

Nancy was a fierce believer in Science, she loved dogs, cats, horses, gardening, Joni Mitchell, Barbara Streisand, Lucinda Williams, Wilco & the Memphis Tigers. To quote Danielle Hardee, "Never was anyone like her before, and never will there be another. She was a brilliant, wickedly funny, fierce and independent firecracker of a woman." To that list could be added challenging, outspoken & brash...she did not suffer fools gladly.

Nancy & Robert J. Van Tol, Jr. (Bob) were married on Friday August 16th, 1996...she left for Graduate School in Knoxville 2 days later. Both Bob & Nancy logged many miles on I-40 until her Master's program was completed.

Nancy was preceded in death by her parents James & Eula Burkhead, her Grandmother Nina B. Goree.  As she loved animals, special mention must be made of Golden, Nancy's beloved & aptly named Golden Retriever that she lost in 2019.

She is survived by her loving husband of 25 years; Bob Van Tol, sister Deborah B. Thomas (Germantown/Olive Branch), nephew Zach Thomas, niece Kathryn Lamping, 3 dogs (Sally, Gracie, Stevo), 1 cat (Joseph) & many great friends...among them (alphabetically by 1st name) Beverly Thweatt, Carol Reese,  Christine Martin, Ginger Rowsey, Jan Williams, Janet Gibson & Paula Bridges McGill.

Nancy felt strongly about abandoned & unwanted pets, to that end she was actively involved with Companion Pet Rescue in Jackson, TN.  Over the years Nancy & Bob worked with CPR as foster parents for many years, helping hundreds of dogs/puppies find their forever homes.

Per her oft repeated & strongly stated wishes there will be no Funeral or formal Memorial service.  Memorial contributions in her honor can be made to Companion Pet Rescue via their website

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Nancy Van Tol, please visit our flower store.


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