In Memory of




Obituary for Ian Nicholas Nagy

Dr. Ian Nicholas Nagy Phd passed away from natural causes February 1st, 2022 at his home in Ottawa, Ontario. He is survived by his mother, Fay Marley-Clarke, father and stepmother, Dr. Alex and Cynthia Nagy, siblings, Sasha, Andrew (Sonia) and Amanda (Russell), step siblings, Euan (Gabriella), Angus (Jennifer), Susannah (Price) and Fiona, and his nieces and nephews, Chandra, Emma, Aidan, Emmett, Travis, Callum, Amelia, Sebastian, Sophia, Findlay, Hamish, Alastair and Isla. Also surviving Ian is his great Aunty Audrey, and aunts Agnes (Steve), Anna, Denyse and Mimi, godparents Zack and Maria, along with a large family of cousins, who share in the family’s grief.


Ian was born in Ottawa on April 29, 1966 and the city remained close to his heart. Born into a military household, the family had stops in places far and wide including Cold Lake, Alta., Richmond, B.C., Kingston, and North Gower, Ont. But it was Ottawa that had a pull on Ian and he moved back to the city after high school briefly before returning to Vancouver for university. He would move back for good after finishing his Masters of Communication in 1998 at Simon Fraser University (after a brief pit stop in Calgary) to embark on his Phd from Carleton. He graduated with a Doctorate of Philosophy in 2006. Ian studied the impact of conspiracy theory in popular culture and was far ahead of his time in understanding the role this would play later in society. Years after the publication of his thesis, media organizations would contact Ian asking to appear on national television to comment. He would often decline these opportunities because as he said once the topic was just too complex to reduce to soundbites.


To know Ian was to know his passions. He shared his interests with an intensity and desire to have you fully understand them, and not only the topic or object of his interest, but also how he saw himself reflected in those mediums. So if you were not as rabid a fan of Kids In The Hall, The Tragically Hip or CFL Football, he felt he hadn’t properly conveyed their significance to you and he would embark on even more compelling arguments to get you on board. I mean, how else would you not love them as much as he did?


He brought the same passion and commitment to his career, which began as a sessional professor at the University of Calgary before moving on to Carlteon and University of Ottawa. He brought tremendous insight and energy to his role and touched many students’ lives. He moved into research and – perhaps to him, his life’s work – when he, along with a dedicated group of researchers, detailed over a 15 year period, the horrors suffered by Canada’s indigenous population in the residential schools system. His work helped collate and organize the systemic abuses suffered and prepared the documents needed to eventually result in reparations paid out by the government to the victims. The work brought Ian face to face with the horrors of all that was inflicted upon the children at these schools and he remained committed to justice for the victims for years to come. He worked on the residential school file until almost the last documents were completed. In his own quiet way, he lived that commitment in everyday life. He once admitted to helping a homeless man he crossed paths with in Ottawa connect to his family by pouring through the files to discover not only were his sisters (long thought deceased) alive but he was able to help reconnect them. Ian walked him through the steps needed to receive counseling support and reparations owed to him. He conveyed this story by way of explaining to a brother how he came to know a man who was waving at them on the street. This was how Ian was when he was passionate about something. He followed through. 


He spent his final four years working as a senior researcher for the Department of National Defense. We don’t know much about what he did there as it required top secret clearance, but we know from his co-workers that Ian was the person to solve complicated issues and nothing left the office without his eye on it, such was the esteem his writing and analytical skills were held.


He was also devoted to the practice of mixed martial arts and worked hard over the years to achieve a black belt. While with the Ottawa Academy of Martial Arts he traveled multiple times to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for training and competition. This focused sport was a positive outlet for him and provided him many great memories and friendships. 


Simple pleasures included a good meal (with hot sauce … so much hot sauce), spending time with friends, and connecting with the people that were part of his life. All of this was preferably conducted at his favourite restaurant, Local Lansdowne. Thanks to the staff for sending Ian care packages during lockdown. Always leading with whatever nickname he had bestowed on you, Ian would reach out with birthday wishes or memories, sharing details of past events and the significance of a date. His memory was astounding, with a brain like a computer. Equally expansive was his heart, feeling relationships deeply. He also adored his beloved cats, finding great comfort in their unconditional love but, with his acute sensitivity, found their loss unbearable. His remaining cat, Gracie, has been placed in a good home.


The family would like to thank everyone for reaching out to share memories and condolences at this difficult time. A celebration of life will be held at Inn at the Quay in New Westminster, B.C. on April 16th from 1-4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Ian’s name to a cause that was near to his heart:


Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue

By e-transfer:

By cheque:

Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue

P.O. Box 34047

Strandherd RO

Nepean, ON K2J 5B1