Jay Calhoun Nania was born November 8, 1961 to Virginia Calhoun Nania and James Joseph Nania, DDS in Madison, Wisconsin to the delight of his four older brothers, John, Jim, Jeff, and Joel, who took great pride in participating in his upbringing. He was taken away from his loving family far too soon following a valiant fight against brain cancer on March 18, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Although his time here was cut short, he enjoyed a life full of love, charity, and commitment. Jay was an explorer who found adventure in all aspects of life. He was also a dedicated Wisconsin Badger, an enthusiastic Green Bay Packers fan, a loyal BP employee, a great friend, and, most importantly to him, a dedicated family man as father to Christina, Jason, and Julia and devoted husband to Silvia. |
Jay's love for nature, storytelling and exploration inspired his choice of geology as a career. He completed his bachelor degree in geology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1984. Under the guidance of his beloved advisor, Dr. Cam Craddock, "Indiana Jay" experienced his most extreme adventure while pursuing his master's thesis in the harsh arctic climate of Spitsbergen. His experiences at the UW left him with a strong desire to give back to the University and its students. Jay felt privileged to serve on the Alumni Board and the Board of Visitors at the UW Department of Geology and Geoscience for more than a decade and as the UW Alumni Club president in Houston. As a result of his relentless support of the Department of Geology, the University named a structural lab in his honor. He was a Badger through and through, making it to a home football game every year.
Jay's commitment to his local community was also profound and distinctive. He helped coach Jason's baseball and basketball teams, Julia's softball and soccer teams, and supported Christina's fencing endeavors. One of his most prized honors was being recognized as a Volunteer of the Year for the local YMCA one month prior to his diagnosis.
Jay worked for BP America for 25 years and relished managing an incredible array of bright and hardworking geologists, geophysicists, and engineers to bring energy from the deep waters in the Gulf of Mexico. One of the roles he enjoyed most at BP was recruiting and mentoring the new generation of geoscientists.
The center of Jay's life was always his relationships with family and friends. He looked forward to the annual rendezvous in Hayward, Wisconsin at Spider Lake with his nieces, nephews, cousins, and brothers (for whom Jay had unending love and admiration), and his Wisconsin family friends in their quest to capture the illusive "Mossback the Great Muskie". He showed the same commitment to his large, spirited Houston Italian "famiglia" and friends with elaborate weekend festivities and the annual Thanksgiving neighborhood adult vs. kids flag football Turkey Bowl Game. His uncanny ability to forge lifelong friendships enriched his life with treasured relationships from as far back as his kindergarten classmates to his new Houston friends.
But Jay's greatest adventure and his true passion in life were his wife and children. In 1989, he made a New Year's resolution never to date a neighbor, a doctor, or an Italian. He broke his pledge soon after when he met and fell in love with the girl next door, Silvia Orengo, an Italian doctor, and much more. Theirs was a true partnership. Together, they built a life greater than their dreams. Silvia's love for Jay was, and is, endless and evident in her fierce and loving commitment to her wedding vow to honor Jay in sickness and in health. Their marriage was filled with love, adventure and adversity created by nature but overcome by her diligence and his unbridled optimism.
Their union produced Jay's most cherished legacy of all, their three incredible children: Christina, Jason, and Julia. They are truly his greatest gift to the world and the ultimate source of his happiness, joy, and pride. No moment of his life with them was wasted; from birthdays to holidays, every special event became an opportunity for Jay to mastermind an elaborate celebration. He spent hours organizing the best spring breaks and summer vacations, from a little road trip in Texas to an exotic tour of the Galapagos Islands; carefully plotting out each intricate detail on Excel spreadsheets that featured every moment of the trip.
Jay's ability to give unconditional love and unquestioned loyalty to family and friends were two of his greatest attributes. He will be remembered fondly as a man of integrity and honesty that laughed often with spirit, loved his family and friends, and adored his children. Life will be duller without this great man but his spirit will remain alive in all who knew and loved him.
There will be a private family service in Madison, Wisconsin, where Jay will be laid to rest next to his beloved parents, oldest brother John and his Aunt Annie Bummy. A memorial celebration for family and friends will be held both in Madison, on March 30 and in Houston, on April 4. In lieu of flowers, Jay's family has established a memorial fund in his name at the University of Wisconsin Department of Geology through this link: www.supportuw.org/giveto/geoscience in memory of Jay Nania. Checks can also be made to the UW Foundation, US Bank Lockbox, Box 78807, Milwaukee, WI 53278-0807 with Jay Nania Geoscience in the memo line.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Mar. 24, 2013