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Joan McNagny, chairwoman of the Ivy Tech State Board, shows a portrait of an Ivy Tech president who died in January 1980 to Gov. Otis Bowen, right.

Civic leader Joan McNagny dies

Recalled fondly as matriarch at spouse's law firm

– Joan McNagny, known as a tireless leader and philanthropist and supporter of dozens of community organizations, died Wednesday at the age of 89.

A lifelong Fort Wayne resident, wife of attorney William McNagny of the Barrett & McNagny law firm, and mother of three, Joan McNagny had a deep dedication to her community and family, her friends said.

"She was an absolutely devoted wife to Bill. They were a wonderful, loving couple and had a very special relationship," said Bob Walters, a longtime partner at Barrett & McNagny.

The couple had three children – Charles, Joyce and Sally.

Walters recalled meeting McNagny when he joined the firm in the fall of 1967.

"Joan was the quintessential matriarch of the firm," he said. "When I joined, she was the persona of elegance; … she was the person who lived and breathed the firm, but did so in a very community-oriented, positive and elegant way."

Walters was in his mid-20s when he joined Barrett & McNagny, and McNagny took him under her wing, as she did with all the new members of the firm.

"What comes to me when I think of her, other than elegance and graciousness, was her million-dollar smile," he said. "She was always up. She had a sort of relentless optimism that was infectious."

McNagny and her husband collected Russian, Eastern European and Far Eastern icons from the 17th through 19th centuries.

The collection has been displayed over the years as the "William and Joan McNagny Collection of Sacred Icons."

In addition to her love of art, McNagny also was a staunch advocate of education.

She was also a supporter of Junior League of Fort Wayne and formerly served as Y-Teen director at the YWCA, president of the Indiana Lawyer's Wives, a member of the Indiana State Board of Education and president of the Indiana Public Broadcasting Society

In 1974, McNagny joined Ivy Tech Northeast as director of the foundation board, a position she held until 2009.

McNagny was also active at the state level, serving as chairwoman of Ivy Tech's state Board of Trustees from 1979 to 1980.

In 2010, McNagny received Ivy Tech Northeast's first honorary degree – an associate of science in College and Community Service.

"She embraced us, and we embraced her," Chancellor Jerrilee Mosier said. "She was always our greatest advocate and a champion for higher education. She believed in technical training, she believed in education."

In addition to many donations to the foundation and Ivy Tech, the McNagnys also created the Glenn Sample Award, which recognizes excellence in faculty, Mosier said.

"She really does leave behind a legacy, a long-term legacy, in so many aspects of her community," Mosier said. " … If anyone deserves to be recognized, it's Joan."

Statement as issued Friday by Ivy Tech:

"It is with great sorrow that we remember our friend and Ivy Tech Community College pioneer Ms. Joan McNagny. Ms. McNagny was appointed to the Ivy Tech State Board of Trustees and became the first female to chair that body in 1979-80. She and her husband Bill started the Glenn W. Sample Award, Ivy Tech’s highest honor for a faculty member, which was first awarded in 1980. McNagny had also served on the Ivy Tech Foundation. From 1974 to 2009 she served as a Director on the Foundation Board. After 36 years of service on the board, she retired in 2009 but continued to serve the Foundation Board as Director Emerita. In 2010, Ms. NcNagny was also awarded an Ivy Tech Community College honorary associate degree in College and Community Service. Ms. McNagny will always be remembered for her work and dedication to making Ivy Tech Community College what it is today. She will truly be missed by the entire Ivy Tech family."