Nancy Bell McAllister

December 29, 1955March 30, 2021

Nancy Bell McAllister, age 65, passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by her husband and close family on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. She was born December 29, 1955, in Berkeley, California, to The Rev. James B. Bell and The Rev. Susan W. Bell. From a young age, Nancy was the groovy big sister to Margaret and Marian and the apple of her parents’ eyes. She lit up every room she entered. She had a brilliant business mind, coupled with boundless creativity that she effortlessly expressed in every corner of her life.

Nancy graduated in the Class of 1974 from C.E. Byrd High School in Shreveport, LA, and went on to graduate from Sewanee: The University of the South, Class of 1978. She fell in love with and married her college sweetheart, Michael Lee McAllister, in July of 1980.

Nancy famously turned down an offer to Harvard Business School to attend Tulane University with Mike. Mike and Nancy were the king and queen of Tulane Business School and took their star turns in New York City where Nancy became an advertising executive on Madison Avenue at a time when women -- especially those with Southern accents -- were a scarcity in the high ranks of a male-dominated business world. She spearheaded national campaigns for Proctor and Gamble and other blue-chip companies before hanging up her silk suits and pumps to pursue an entrepreneurial path. After obtaining a degree from Parsons School of Design in New York, she moved to Dallas and started her own company, McAllister Designs, which she ran for 30 years.

Nancy and Mike were blessed with two children, Nina (born 1988) and William (born 1991), who brought an abundance of love and light into their lives. Nancy planned the most extraordinary birthday parties for each of them every year, accompanied by hand-designed, mailed invitations. They spent many summers at the McAllister beach house in Port Aransas with close-knit families on both sides. A self-taught gourmet chef and unofficial Austin food critic, Nancy was known for her homemade, white tablecloth Sunday lunches and five-star dinners.

A devoted philanthropist and self-professed “church lady,” Nancy gave generously of her time, talent and treasure to her beloved Episcopal church communities, Helping Hand Home for Children, The Gladney Center, Hospice Austin, and Docents of the Texas Governor’s Mansion.

Mike preceded her in death in 2011. She later met the next great love of her life Will Jones IV at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, and he was her cherished companion into her last moments. Their partnership was full of joy and laughter, beautiful food, and countless friends.

The world is forever changed -- more bright, more beautiful -- because she lived.

She will be missed and is survived by husband Will Jones IV, her children and their partners, Nina and Andrew Brenneman, Will McAllister and Karen Hatfield, her sisters Margaret Badgley and Marian Bell, her brother-in-law Jerry Badgley, stepdaughter Annabell McNew, stepson Will Jones V and his wife Margaret Jones, and grandchildren Clara, Dean, Wally, Dudley, Mae and Lola. Also brothers- and sisters-in-law David and Cecile McAllister, Steve and Susannah McAllister, and Elizabeth McAllister Curtis; her aunt Frances Bell Shepherd; her uncle and aunt Dan and Beverly Wright; cousins James W. Shepherd, Jr., Margaret Tate Shepherd, Katherine Schad, Karen Buckalew and Bill Wright; nieces and nephews Amanda and Stephen Calhoun, Andrew McAllister, Whitaker Elledge and Jillette Johnson, Samantha Curtis, James Elledge and his fiancée Ashlee Newman, Mary Frances Cypher and her fiancé David Grove, Annie McAllister and her fiancé Patrick Dwarica, Sallie and John Christie, Grace Elledge and Matt Nunn, Adam Curtis, Alex Curtis, and Samuel and Kelly McAllister; and beautiful great nieces and nephews.

A small memorial service will be held at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd on Saturday, April 10, 2021, at 1:30 pm, to celebrate her life and gifts to all.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to Helping Hand Home for Children or the charity of your choice.


  • Memorial Service

    Saturday, April 10, 2021


Nancy Bell McAllister

have a memory or condolence to add?

Mary Hilliard

April 7, 2021

I came to know Nancy during the time of Will Gainer's wedding and instantly adored her. Later when I joined Good Shepherd, she and Will were both so welcoming. I enjoyed seeing her at church and at Bible Study and am stunned that such a vibrant young at heart light of the world has been extinguished.

I send my deepest sympathy to all her mourn her. Even those who were not lifelong friends will feel this loss of such a vivacious, good person.


Henry Harrington

April 7, 2021

A shining light of life and love. We will all miss your friendship, your strength and the love you shared.

Julie Harrington

April 6, 2021

You are BRILLIANT Light of effervescence , warmth, love, laughter, friendship! How I cherish my memories with you and they radiate such joy throughout my soul. Nancy, YOU, truly were a “earthly Light of Christ”. I never heard you say an ill word about anyone, or spread gossip, or disregard someone for their path in life, You NEVER EVER ceased to amaze me with your reverence and regards towards others. Goodness and kindness and optimism was just innate- born with -God Given to you. What a marvelous example you set for us all and for what our Heavenly Father meant by “Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself”. I have sat in awe of you and how you give yourself so selflessly and generously to others and to the Austin Community. I have rejoiced in the “Sparkle” in your eyes when you speak of beautiful Nina and your handsome Will. I could actually feel the Pride you have whenever your looked at your children. It was as if your heart was beaming! Nancy, my treasured friend, I send you on your new journey with all of my love, my gratitude, my joy and of course, sprinkling it with little “heavenly sparkles” ✨😃/ 🎊˚ •* ♥️ ˚ ˚✰˚ ˛ ★✨* 。ღ˛° * °♥️ ˚ • 🌟 *˚ .ღ 🎊*˛˚✨ I will look forward to seeing you down the road. I LOVE YOU dearly and it will be a bit duller here without your Twinkle. 🌟 ❌💖❌♥️ Julie


April 6, 2021

What a tremendous loss to all who was fortunate to have shared some space with Nancy. I spent time with her at the Governor's Mansion - we were Docents and enjoyed sharing our knowledge of the Mansion with visitors. Nancy was so gracious, friendly, spontaneous - a lovely hostess and the perfect person to introduce Texas to visitors. We will miss her and her beautiful smile.
Jeani Smith

Jana Wallace

April 1, 2021

Our son Jack attended St Andrew’s with you. We had moved from Chicago when Jack entered 7th grade and I remember how friendly and helpful your parents were to our family. Your dad helped us when I needed insurance and banking recommendations. But I especially remember attending track events and your parents were so kind to welcome me in the bleachers. We had fun conversation and they were so warm and genuine. I’m sorry for the tragic loss of two incredibly kind people. It’s hard to understand why bad things happen to good people. You will exude the warmth of your parents in your life. We are thinking of you.
The Wallace family