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SAVOY – David Ledbetter Nanney, professor emeritus of biology in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Illinois, died early Saturday morning (June 4, 2016) at Clark-Lindsey Village in Urbana. He was being treated for a fall which he had suffered about four weeks before his death.

David Ledbetter Nanney was born in Abingdon, Va., on Oct. 10, 1925, to the Rev. Thomas Grady Nanney and Pearl Ledbetter Nanney. When David was about a year old, the family moved to Wewoka, Okla., where David spent his childhood, graduating from Wewoka High School in 1943. When David was 8 years old, he had suffered from a bone disease which prevented his participation in World War II. He attended Oklahoma Baptist University from 1943 to 1946, graduating with a bachelor's degree in English. He went to Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind., where he earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in zoology in 1951.

Professor Nanney's first job was in the Zoology Department at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He left Michigan in 1958 for a year at the California Institute of Techology in Pasadena. He came to the University of Illinois in 1959 as a professor of genetics and development in the School of Life Sciences. In 1984, Mr. Nanney spent a year in Munster, Germany, where he was awarded a Humboldt Fellowship from the German government. He was a member of the American Academy of Science. He retired from the University of Illinois in 1990.

In 1970, David and Jean Nanney brought a 50-acre tract of land 1 mile north and 1 mile west of Villa Grove. The family spent many happy hours at "the land" where they planted gardens, walked in the woods, raised bees (for a few years), mowed the grass and entertained friends for picnics. In 1999, they gave the land, which is a natural flood plain, to the University of Illinois as a research area.

The Nanneys lived on Indiana Avenue from 1959 until February of this year when they moved to the Windsor of Savoy.

Survivors include a son, Douglas Nanney of, Louisville, Tenn.; a daughter, Ruth Nanney Beshears of Columbus, Ohio; grandchildren, Brian Beshears of Urbana, Jonathan Beshears of Columbus and Josette Nanney Cruce of Raleigh, N.C.; and great-grandchildren, Julia, Marcus and David Beshears, all of Columbus.

Memorial services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 11, at the Chapel of Saint John the Divine, 1011 S. Wright St., Champaign.

Condolences may be offered online at

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