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She was the first voice you heard when you called the university. She was personable and helpful to students and staff alike. She lived near campus.
Nancy “The Voice of IUP” Noker worked in Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s switchboard operating room for 35 years from 1962 to 1997. She passed away on Jan. 10, but her legacy still lives on with those who knew her.
Noker’s daughter, Susan Karloski, who currently lives in Murrysville, remembers the struggle of living in a single-parent home alongside her sister, Julie, and her brother, David.
“Mom was by herself,” Karloski said. “She raised us as a single working mom back when that was not done. Mom sacrificed a lot to give us a good upbringing. I think the three of us became decent adults.”
Noker was known for helping and engaging everyone she came across, whether it was at her post answering phones or on the street.
“Mom loved everybody at IUP from the janitor to the president,” Karloski said. “She dealt with everyone exactly the same.”
Former IUP journalism professor Pat Heilman said Noker remembered everybody.
“She went to every homecoming parade and would walk the entire parade route and talk to people,” Heilman said.
Not only did she know everyone, she also knew how to get information.
“She knew everything,” Heilman said. “If you called up asking how to get basketball tickets, she knew who to talk to. She always had treats on her, not just for little kids but college students, too.”
Eugene C. Thomas, former IUP campus police officer, worked with Noker since he started at IUP in 1972. They were office neighbors in Sutton Hall, where Noker answered phones and Thomas worked dispatch.
“She was a wealth of information,” Thomas said. “She loved to help people. She was the cheerful face I saw every time I walked into the office.
“If something was happening, Nancy knew it. If anybody had a question, they called Nancy. If she didn’t know, she would know where to call and ask. She would walk a mile to find out one thing for one person. If she couldn’t find an answer, there was no answer.”
Karloski said her mother loved the students and would do anything for them, even deliver lost items to a student’s home.
“She would know where the person lived,” Karloski said. “And she always walked there. She never had a driver’s license.”
Karloski said her mother loved to cut through the Oak Grove on her way home to South 10th Street and feed the squirrels, collect leaves and talk to students.
“She was so friendly with students that when they had a party, they would invite her,” Karloski said.
“In all honesty, college students don’t want older women at their parties so she must have been somebody special to get invited. And she would go. She enjoyed the students so much.”
Thomas said it was hard on Noker when she retired.
“Her heart was pretty much broken when she had to retire. She was the door to IUP via phone,” he said.