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2010 Obituaries - page 2

Adeline Schuppner

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Adeline Schuppner, 82, of Maple Park, passed away surrounded by the prayers of her family on Thursday, October 7, 2010 at Delnor Hospital in Geneva.

She was born January 20, 1928 in Elgin, the daughter of George and Margaret (Christensen) Hellmuth.

When Adeline was still small, the family left Elgin with running water and electric to Maple Park with neither, where her family farmed for decades. She graduated Maple Park High School in 1945.

Paul Schuppner played basketball at Plato Center but it was a certain cheerleader for Maple Park that caught his eye. Soon a courtship began and in 1946, Paul and Adeline were united in marriage on the Howard farm on Howard Rd. in Maple Park.

They began their new life together with Adeline’s parents in an apartment while Paul worked at Turner Brass. Then in a few years Paul became manager on a farm in Sycamore for a time before finding a dairy farm in Virgil in 1951. After renting on a few different farms in the area, they moved into their present home on Meredith Rd. in 1981. They saved for thirty-five years to buy their home and the moment they turned the key, it was theirs and theirs alone.

Over the years Adeline worked many jobs but the one she was most “famous” for was driving a school bus for the Kaneland School District for over thirty years. It was job that she shared with Paul and brought her in contact with generations of friends throughout the community.

Adeline was a member of the Loyal Order of the Moose, St. Charles, as well as the Kane County Farm Bureau.

Adeline had an unyielding love for her husband, caring for him and walking beside him every step of the way. She made their house a home but worked wonders in the kitchen and catered to everyone’s taste, knowing their favorite pie or cake, each one a mouthwatering masterpiece. Adeline loved to go dancing with Paul at the Blue Moon and play cards in a “club” full of friends and neighbors. She also loved to sew, a talent she used to make many of her own clothes. She had an eye for “bargains”, “antiques” or “junk” depending on your point of view. Whenever you left her home, she followed you out the door and waved goodbye until you were out of sight. In 1974, she and Paul went to Hawaii and Las Vegas in 1975 making memories with every mile. Together again, their love burns brighter than the sun and still warms the hearts of their family and friends when their one-of-a-kind memories are shared.

She is survived by her son Steve (Ruth Banas) Schuppner of Cortland,

Three grandchildren:
David Schuppner and his children Hannah and Kaleb, of Elburn, IL;
Paul W. (Nicole) Schuppner of East Lansing, MI and
Andrea (Josh) Pethoud and their daughter Maysen of DeKalb, IL,

Ruth Banas’ children:
Renee (Adam) Real-Banas and their son Chester, of Minneapolis, MN and
Andy (Shana) Banas of Roseville, MN;

Two siblings:
Jeanette Klingenberg of Sycamore, IL,
Robert (Sherry) Hellmuth of DeKalb, IL;

Many nieces, nephews, cousins and a host of friends.

She is preceded in death by her parents, husband Paul, one son Edward Schuppner, grandson Brian Schuppner, and one brother-in-law, Warren Klingenberg, who preceded him in death.

Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. with a funeral service to celebrate his life to follow visitation at 7 p.m., Monday, October 11, 2010 at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn. Rev. Dr. Paul Meyers, pastor of Roscoe United Methodist Church, and Rev. Ernst Rex, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church of Lily Lake, will co-officiate. Interment will be at 10 a.m., Tuesday, October 12, at Blackberry Township Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in her name to benefit her favorite charities. Checks may be made to the “Adeline Schuppner Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at

Walter W. Strahl

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Walter W. Strahl, 93, of Elburn, passed away peacefully at Robin’s Nest, an assisted living center in Geneva, on Saturday, October 2, 2010.

He was born August 12, 1917, the son of Arthur and Lily (Blank) Strahl, in Chicago.

Walter grew up in Chicago and attended local schools. He graduated from Tilden High School.

Walter found the love of his life in his own neighborhood where he gave his heart to LaVerne Gutknecht. Stories have been told that Walter wouldn’t pay the dime to enter a dance hall unless LaVerne was there. It wasn’t long after that that Walter made sure he didn’t have to look for her again when they were united in marriage at St. Philippus in Chicago on August 17, 1940.

They began their new life on South Hoyne St. in Chicago and made over forty years of memories before moving to Elburn in 1989.

Walter’s first and last job was at Crane Company where he began on the factory floor but retired as the accountant in May of 1978.

He was member of both St. Andrews Lutheran Church and St. Philippus United Church of Christ.

Walter had a quiet strength and an observant mind. He “kept good files” at work with meticulous and tiny handwriting and kept a keen eye on the world by reading his daily paper and numerous books. Walter wasn’t a stranger to anybody, his crinkly blue eyes and sweet nature making friends in walk of life. He loved his Chicago Bears but loved his family more. He was a dedicated husband who had a never ending love for his wife of seventy years. As a father, no one could love his children more. His presence will be greatly missed and never forgotten.

He is survived by his wife LaVerne, a daughter-in-law, Barbara Strahl, several nieces, nephews and generations of friends.

He is preceded in death by his parents and only son Wayne.

A funeral service to celebrate his life will be held at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn, on Thursday at 5 p.m. with an hour of visitation preceding. Rev. Mark Larson, pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Charles, will officiate with interment to follow on Friday, at 11 a.m., Evergreen Cemetery, Chicago.

A memorial has been established in his name to benefit his favorite charities. Checks may be made to the “Walter Strahl Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at

Leda Marietta Helander

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Leda Marietta Helander, 98, of DeKalb, formerly of Toluca, Ill., passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of Saturday, October 02, 2010, at Oak Crest, the DeKalb Area Retirement Center, where she had recently made her home.

She was born August 11, 1912 in Rutland, Ill., the daughter of Lewis and Ollie (Harms) Vinecore.

Leda grew up on the family farm in Rutland and attended local schools.

She graduated from Rutland High School and then attended the National College of Education for two years in Evanston. She received her teaching certificate and taught first through eighth grade at one room school house, Antioch School, in Toluca.

Leda’s heart found its match in high school. She and Russell Helander were united in marriage on March 7, 1936.

They began their new life together back on a local farmstead, working the fields and tending to the livestock. In the 1970’s they kept the farm but left the fields behind moving to the “city” in Toluca.

Although Leda held a certificate in teaching, she held a masters degree in making their house a home, raising two daughters, Janice and Joyce.

Leda was a member of Bethany Lutheran Church of Wenona, Bethany Lutheran Chapter of WELCA, the Bennington Unit of the Home Extension of Toluca and was a 4-H leader as well. She also made many memories traveling with Russell while he was Rotary District Governor.

Leda was quiet, but strong and stoic. She had a giving heart for anyone in need and her love for her grandchildren knew no bounds. Both Leda and Russell enjoyed local travel as well as overseas. Among their favorites was a Rotary International Convention in Switzerland that doubled as an excuse to make a pilgrimage back to Sweden to celebrate Russell’s heritage. In her younger years, her family, along with others, drove in a caravan to Wisconsin to enjoy the outdoors while camping under the stars.

She is survived by two daughters Janice (John) Docherty of Sycamore, Ill. and Joyce (James) Helander-Serafin of St. Charles; seven grandchildren: Kathleen (Kevin) Callaghan and their family Bryant, Rohan, and Dylan of DeKalb, Daniel Docherty and his family, Lauren and Margaret of Sycamore, David (Susan) Docherty and their family Aaron and Phillip Docherty and Courtney (Amos) Sutherland, all Macomb, Ill.,
Teresa (Kevin) Woods and their family Michael, Nicole, Matthew, and Jacqueline of St. Cloud and Becker, Minn., Bart Tack and his daughter Amanda of Rockford, Ill., Katie (Ken) Fetters of Chicago and Joe Serafin and his son Anthony of Schaumberg, Ill.; one sister in-law, Martha Vinecore-Andeen of Milwaukee, one nephew, Gregg (Kathy) Gardiner of Eureka, Calif., one niece, Karol Jones of Westminister, Colo. and a special family friend, Elaine Sheets of Toluca.

She is preceded in death by her parents, husband Russell, one brother Richard Vinecore and one nephew Larry Vinecore.

A funeral service to celebrate her life will be held at the Bethany Lutheran Church in Wenona, Ill., on Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 11 a.m., with two hours of visitation to precede the service. Rev. Raymond Barkley, pastor of the church, will officiate and interment will follow at the Bethany Lutheran Cemetery in Wenona, IL. The family will also host a memorial service in her honor at Oak Crest at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in her name. Checks may be made to the “Leda Helander Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at

Doyle Eugene (Gene) Meyer

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Doyle Eugene (Gene) Meyer, 80, of rural Maple Park, departed this life on September 28, 2010 at home. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. Born September 30, 1929 in Fairview, Oklahoma, he was the son of John and Alice Marguerite (Simerly) Meyer. He graduated from Westville (Oklahoma) High School in 1947 and earned a certificate from Connors State College, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agronomy from Panhandle State University, a Master of Science Degree in Administration from Oklahoma State University, an Educational Specialist Degree in Academic Records and a Doctorate of Education in Educational Psychology, Guidance and Higher Education. He did Post Doctoral work at Stephens College and the University of Nebraska. He served in the Army as a Mathematical Statistician-Research Specialist from 1952-54.

He married Norma Lee Sloan in Elkhart, Kansas in 1952 and to this union three children were born. He married Charlotte Hulse Holden in 1977 at Lorado Taft Campus in Oregon, Ill.

Gene’s entire professional life was spent in education. He was Assistant Business Manager, Registrar and Instructor in Education at Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Okla., Lecturer for the National Science Foundation , (Oklahoma), Adjunct Professor at the Graduate School, Oklahoma State University, Registrar and Professor of Education and Psychology at Parsons College, Fairfield, Iowa, Dean of Student Personnel and Professor of Education and Psychology at the University of South Dakota at Springfield, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, Dean, Professor and Chair of the Education Department at John J. Pershing College, Beatrice, Nebr. and he retired December 31, 1994 as Faculty Chair and Professor of Elementary & Early Childhood Education at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. He was employed part-time 1994-95 as the Zoning Administrator for the town of Cortland.

At Northern, he served on Departmental, College and University Committees. He was a member of the Graduate School and served and chaired both Master’s Thesis and Doctoral Student dissertations. As Faculty Chair, he was instrumental in the revision of the Elementary Education Program. He organized the Student Leaders Association of Teacher Education (the second one in Higher Education) and served as the sponsor for many years. He taught both undergraduate and graduate classes. He was an active Graduate Extension teacher and Coordinated and Supervised Sophomore, Junior and Senior Student Teachers. He was the senior team member of the Teacher Education Undergraduate Program that won the National Association of Teacher Educators Award for an outstanding undergraduate teacher education program. He was the first recipient of the Division of Student Affairs Recognition Award.

He served as Secretary of the DeKalb Area Teacher Educators, President and Executive Secretary of the Illinois Association for Teacher Education and Secretary of the Chicagoland Leadership Conference. He was a member of the National Education Association, the Association of Teacher Educators serving on several committees and was on the planning committee for the Regional Spring Meeting held at Northern. He was a document finder for Phi Delta Kappa and an alternate member to review research proposals for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

He was a consultant to several elementary school districts in Northern Illinois and authored many articles for Professional Journals and authored a book and was co-author of another. He presented professional papers at state, regional, national and international associations.

He obtained several grants from the college of Education, the Graduate School, the Council of Academic Deans, he was a team member of the Federal Project REST (Regular Education-Special Education), and co-director of a 16mm film developed by a grant from the Tandy Corporation. He developed slides, film and videotapes for instructional use. He was a long standing member of Westminster Presbyterian Church in DeKalb where he served on several committees, as a Deacon, Ruling Elder and member and chair of the Gifts and Memorial Committee for over 27 years.

He was an avid reader, gardener (In 1987 he was named DeKalb County Gardner of the Year) and square dancer. He enjoyed working with tools and built the present family home as well as moving two garages and four houses which he then remodeled.

Survivors include his wife, Charlotte; a son, David Wayne Meyer of San Anselmo, Calif.; a daughter, Karen Marguerite Jones of Salt Lake City, Utah. Special children, David Ross Holden of Rochelle, Ill., Kent Holden of Roscoe, Ill., Robert (Jeanette) Holden of Dallas, Tex., Bruce (Geralyn) Holden of DeKalb, Susan (Eric) Wahlgren of Maple Park, Ill.; and grandchildren, Mandy (Matthew) Shanks, Michelle (Jacob) Pasteur, Crystal (Aaron) Burch, Brian, Jeffrey, Courtney, Stacey (David) Yocubets, Aaron, Drew, Matthew, Allison and Samantha. A sister, Alice (Ernest) Parish; a brother, Carl (Corrine) Meyer; and 7 great -grandchildren, Cloey, Aidan, Alexander, Ila, Graham, Brecken and Rowynn.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a son, Phillip Douglas; a brother, John Jr.; and a special daughter-in-law, Debbie Holden.

Memorial Services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 9, 2010 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 830 Annie Glidden Road, DeKalb with Pastor Blake Richter and Pastor Karen Herbst-Kim officiating. Private interment will be in the Malta Cemetery, Malta. Visitation will be held from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, October 1, 2010 at the Anderson Funeral Home in DeKalb.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Gene’s name. For information, please call 815-756-1022 or visit

Gene W. Bovee

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Gene W. Bovee quietly passed away Thursday evening, September 16, in St. Joseph Memorial Hospital, Murphysboro, Ill. Gene was born September 17, 1925 in Nevada, Iowa.

Gene married Maurine L. Olsen on February 9, 1946 in Dundee, Ill.

He is survived by his wife, Maurine L. Bovee of Carbondale; daughter, Claudia Broom (Bill) of Carbondale; son, Terry Bovee of Carbondale; daughter, Dawn Kittoe (Ken) of Waukesha, WI; son, Jeff Bovee (Terese) of Augusta, KS; daughter, Lynn Holmes (Ken) of Iowa City, Iowa; daughter-in-law, Cheryl Bovee of Carbondale.  He is also survived by 16 grandchildren:  Jessica Jones, Matt Broom, and Sarah Pienkos; Travis and Whitney Bovee; Kurin and Keith Kittoe; Nick, Josh, Ryan and Kyle Bovee; Emma, Natalie and Adam Holmes; Sarah and Ben O’Brien and 5 great grandchildren:  Dorian Miller; Mallory and Zachary Broom; Connor and Gracie Jones.

He was preceded in death by his parents and one brother.

Gene retired as a salesman for Reichhold Chemicals in 1987.  He  served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II in the South Pacific. He was active in the Marine Corps League of Carbondale and helped bring Toys for Tots to Southern Illinois. In 2001, he was chosen Marine of the Year of Illinois. A dedicated volunteer, he also served 1672 volunteer hours at the Marion VA Medical Center.

Gene loved God, his family, people and the Marines.  He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend who touched deeply those he knew and loved.

A memorial service is planned for  Saturday, November 27 at 10:00 AM at First United Methodist Church, Carbondale. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to First United Methodist Church, Carbondale. Huffman-Harker Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.  To sign the memorial guest book, visit:

Marikay Nichols

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Marikay (nee Lieving) Nichols, 72, passed away Friday, Sept. 24, 2010, at her home in Batavia.

She was born May 27, 1938, in DeKalb, the daughter of Jesse and Catherine (nee Ernzen) Lieving. She was united in marriage to Lynn Nichols on May 18, 1957, at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Batavia.

Marikay was a devout Catholic; a former parishioner of St. Gall Catholic Church in Elburn, and now a member of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Batavia. She enjoyed her career as an administrative assistant at Waubonsee Community College and later at St. Peter Catholic Church in Geneva. She was an avid reader and collector of many things, including dishes and holiday decorations among other items.

She is survived by her five children, Kim M. Nichols of North Aurora, Steven S. Nichols of San Diego, Thomas R. Nichols of North Aurora, Patricia E. Nichols of North Aurora, and Joan C. (John E. II) Saupp of Naples, Fla.; and a grandson, John E. Saupp III of Naples, Fla.

In addition to her parents, Marikay is preceded in death by her beloved husband, Lynn.

Visitation was Tuesday, Sept. 28, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Moss Family Funeral Home, 209 S. Batavia Ave. in Batavia.

Funeral services will begin with prayers at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010, at the funeral home before proceeding to Holy Cross Catholic Church, 2300 W. Main St. in Batavia for Mass at 10:30 a.m. Interment will follow in East Batavia Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to American Diabetes Association, 30 North Michigan Ave. Suite 2015, Chicago, IL 60602.

For additional information, please contact Moss Family Funeral Home in Batavia at (630) 879-7900 or

Dennis Allen Anderson

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Dennis Allen Anderson, 67, of Elburn, passed away Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010, due to complications of mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

He was born Feb. 1, 1943, in Geneva, the son of Sten and Margie (Allen) Anderson.

Dennis grew up in Elburn on a dairy farm. He attended local schools and graduated from Kaneland High School in 1961. Later, he attended Eastern Illinois University.  

Dennis entered the U.S. Army in 1966. Stationed in Germany, he proudly served his country for two years.

Dennis and Leona were married on July 5, 1969, at Grace Lutheran Church in Lily Lake.

Dennis worked for several years for Jewel Food Stores. Later, he worked for the Kane County Department of Transportation until his retirement. 

Dennis was a faithful and lifelong member of the Grace Lutheran Church of Lily Lake. He also was a 40-year member of the Elburn American Legion, Post No. 630, and a member of the Elburn Lions Club, where he received the Melvin Jones Fellow Award. In addition, he served on the board of trustees for the Town and Country Public Library in Elburn.  

He is survived by his loving wife of 41 years, Leona; two sisters, Stena Warne of Mesa, Ariz., and Donna Grimes of Belvidere, Ill.; nephews,  Gideon Warne and Lowell Dean Oranger; nieces, Tena Simpson, Kimberly Lang and Shauna Pena; great-nieces and nephews and many friends.

He is preceded in death by his parents.

A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 2, at Grace Lutheran Church of Lily Lake. Rev. Ernst Rex, pastor of the church, will officiate. Private family interment will follow at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in his name to benefit Grace Lutheran Church of Lily Lake or the International Mesothelioma Program. Checks may be made to the “Dennis A. Anderson Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at

Phil A. Kuzlik

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Phil A. Kuzlik, 69, of Chapin, S.C., formerly of both Chicago and Elburn, passed away Thursday, Sept. 5, 2010.

A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 25, at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn 60119.

A memorial has been established in his name to benefit his favorite charities. Checks may be made and mailed to any of the following charities: Palmetto Children’s Hospital, P.O. Box 100199, Dept. 274, Columbia, S.C. 29202 or the East lake Community Church, ACTS Metro, 10057 Broad River Road, Irmo, S.C. 29063. Tributes may also be forwarded in his name to P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119, or on the web at

Dennis A. Anderson

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Dennis A. Anderson, 67, of Elburn, passed away on Sept. 8, 2010, at Kindred Hospital in Sycamore, Ill. A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at a later date.

Arrangements are handled with care by Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn. For information, call (630) 365-6414 or visit

Anna Kozik

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Anna Kozik, 100, of St. Charles, passed away Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010, at Provena Pine View Care Center, where she had recently made her home.

She was born Aug. 8, 1910, the daughter of Paul and Suzana (Hrokus) Sladek in Czechoslovakia.
She grew up near Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, and attended local schools.

Anna was united in marriage to Paul Kozik in Czechoslovakia on Jan. 29, 1928. They traveled back to the United States to make their home.

They lived in Chicago for a time until 1943, when they moved to Ramm Road in Maple Park, where they made their home for many years. Anna continued to live on the family farm after Paul passed away in 1984. Due to declining health, she moved to Provena Pine View Care Center in 2004.

The care of her family was Anna’s number-one priority. She worked on the farm, made their house a home and worked as a housekeeper for several local families.

Anna was a faithful member of St. Gall Catholic Church for many years.

Anna’s farm garden helped to feed generations of family and friends. Freezers and shelves held the harvest that always came on her birthday. On that day, a party was held and instead of giving gifts, everyone found themselves laden with gifts from her garden and kitchen. Smells of cooking and baking often permeated the home and held the promise of home-cooked meals, birthday cakes and cookies. She was a loving grandmother to not only her grandchildren, but to anyone who crossed the threshold. She will live long in the memories of those who loved her and will not soon be forgotten.

She is survived by her son, John P. (Patricia) Kozik; four grandchildren, John P. (Cathie) Kozik Jr., Molly (Jeff) Horn, Stephen (Chie) Kozik and Thomas Kozik; five great-grandchildren, Elizabeth Anna Kozik, Michael E. Kozik, Quinlan Kozik, Emily Kozik and Mary Horn; many nieces, nephews, cousins and a family of friends.

She is preceded in death by her parents and her husband.

Visitation was Monday, Sept. 13, at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn. A mass to celebrate her life followed visitation at St. Gall Catholic Church. Interment followed at St. Gall Cemetery, Elburn.

A memorial has been established in her name to benefit her favorite charities. Checks may be made to the “Anna Kozik Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at

Bruce H. Conley

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Bruce H. Conley, 60, passed away Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010, at his home,                        surrounded by his loving family. Bruce finished the race and claimed the promises of his Savior to whom he long ago gave his heart and who guided and sustained Bruce through all of his life. He has fought the good fight; he has finished the race.

Bruce Herbert Conley was born April 13, 1950, in Elburn, the youngest child of Charles and Winifred McMurray Conley. Though the family home was at the corner of Reader Street and Main Street, the whole block and the surrounding yards were open to being a young boy’s playground. Bruce would “hunt tigers,” play cowboys and Indians and spend hours swinging in his grandparent’s backyard, where sometimes he could be heard singing, “O, My Papa.”

Hayfever and allergies often limited his outdoors activities, which may have helped him learn to express himself through music and writing. In addition to dealing with his allergies, he worked hard to overcome a serious problem with stammering.

Bruce attended Elburn Grade School and Kaneland High School, where he excelled in music and graduated with the class of 1968.

He began playing coronet in the fifth grade and took private lessons at Dee Palmer’s in DeKalb. Hours of practice, in time, earned him his dream instrument, a Bach trumpet. He played it in high school and college, at many family “jam sessions” and until recently, in tribute to many veterans as they were laid to rest. As a teenager, his music took him another direction and he, along with three other boys, became The Uther Days, a rock band later also known as Denver Green. Bruce played lead guitar with Dave Johnson, Steve Gliddon and Bob Hamblen making up the rest of the band. Following graduation, he attended North Central College in Naperville, Ill., where he majored in music.

During his senior year in high school, Bruce began training as an aid at Delnor Hospital in St. Charles. There was a cute, petite blonde in the same class who quickly caught his eye, and then his heart. Kristine McConnaughay was a junior at St. Charles High School, and soon she and Bruce found that they had more in common than the aid classes at the hospital. It was young love that would one day grow into a lifetime of commitment; a love much deeper than either imagined in those early, teenage years.

Their courtship began while they were both in high school and grew as they both graduated and went off to college. After his freshman year at North Central, Bruce transferred to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill., where he began studies in Mortuary Science.  Subsequently, he studied psychology at Wisconsin State University in Whitewater, Wis., and mass communication at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb before entering the U.S. Army Reserve in 1971. He returned home and was employed as an on-air announcer at WKKD-FM in Aurora.

On Oct. 7, 1972, Bruce and Kris were united in marriage at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Charles, where Kris sang to him the words he had written to the melody of “Bless This House.”

They settled into their home on South Main Street in Elburn and the everyday workings of married life. That same year, Bruce made the decision to return to his mortuary science studies and began attending Worsham College in Chicago, where he graduated in 1973 and joined his parents in the family business, becoming the third generation to do so.

Bruce and Kris moved to his grandparent’s former home, north of the funeral home, and Chuck and Winnie moved into the house on South Main Street, where Sunday dinner found four generations gathered around the table each week.

On Oct. 11, 1975, Bruce and Kris were blessed with the birth of their son, Benjamin Hale. In 1982, the birth of their daughter, Sarah Louise, made their family complete and quickly outgrowing the home they were in. In 1983, when the opportunity arose to obtain the Reeves house, Bruce moved his family across the backyard to their new home on Main Street.

Like the generations that preceded him, life was built around family (which included a large extended family and the countless families that he served), faith and Bruce’s dedication to helping the bereaved through his work and his writing.   

Throughout his career, Bruce was passionate about helping grieving children, and in 1975 he penned “Butterflies, Grandpa & Me,” a story and coloring book illustrated by his sister, Karen, and written to help explain death, grief and the funeral to children. Through the years, thousands were published and used by funeral homes, churches and hospice programs along with his later book, “Handling the Holidays,” and “Plain Paper Poems,” which contained poems written by Bruce and Karen. Bruce also wrote a number of bereavement pamphlets, several of which were translated and used in bereavement groups in South Africa. His publications, produced by Conley Publications, are still used across the country by those who are dedicated to helping grieving families.

His writing and speaking on grief attracted him to a number of self-help programs that began in the early ‘80s across the Fox Valley.  Bruce was instrumental in the founding of Compassionate Friends, Survivors of Suicide, the Widowed Persons Service, Fox Valley Hospice, and later, DeKalb Hospice, among other programs.

In 1983, he founded Elburn’s first counseling center with Dr. Del Hagin of Aurora College. That effort would grow beyond bereavement to become Conley Outreach Community Services, which incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 1995. Bruce was always keenly aware that death brought with it many changes in the lives of families he served and saw grief-care as something that needed to go hand-in-hand with the broader scope of community services.

In the fall of 1985, that “broader scope” caused Bruce to take on the challenge of saving the old Elburn Elementary School as a community center. With the help of others, he succeeded and founded the Elburn and Countryside Community Center as a not-for-profit organization. Without the benefit of tax or municipal support afforded other Kaneland communities, the organization supported itself as a business incubator while saving the gym and playground for the children of the community.

Through much of the ‘90s, Bruce was involved in state and national associations concerned with bereavement care. In 1995, he led the first conclave between the National Hospice Organization and the National Funeral Director’s Association, and in 1998, he chaired the Association for Death Education and Counseling national conference held in Chicago. In 2000, his focus returned home to take over the West Towns Network, a tax supported program of 708 Inc., which became a service of Conley Outreach. His passion for bringing programs and services to the rural community substantially expanded the program. In 2001, Bruce joined visions with Dr. Michael Mangis and Dr. Donald Preussler of Wheaton College to create another not-for-profit organization, the Center for Rural Psychology, which took over the counseling arm of Conley Outreach to become Heartland Counseling.

Bruce’s ultimate vision for combined bereavement and community care found dimension in his dream of a barn raising on the grounds of the Ravlin homestead in Kaneville, which he acquired in 1997. Though the barn never became a reality, many of the programs and services he envisioned did evolve at the farm through the tireless efforts of volunteers who created a lush prayer garden there and made use of existing buildings to host programs and gatherings. In 2005, Bruce and Kris moved from Elburn to make their home at the Conley Outreach Farm in Kaneville. Bruce loved the quiet beauty of the farm, peaceful babble of the creek and the glory of countless sunrises and sunsets. It was an endless source of inspiration to him as he returned to his writing.

While raising his family and working for better community programs, Bruce followed in the footsteps of his parents and grandparents in a ministry of caring that served grieving families not only from his hometown of Elburn but from many surrounding communities as well. There with a caring arm of support, words of comfort and tireless effort to help, Bruce took his work and his care to schools, churches and homes; wherever he was needed.

When tragedy struck in local schools, he responded with guidance for teachers, students and parents alike, helping them to create meaningful and healing goodbyes. Through his efforts, counseling was made available to students and teachers who had been touched by tragedy. In the aftermath of those losses, he helped schools create crisis teams and programs to meet the needs of students.

Bruce was a member of the Illinois Funeral Directors Association, the National Funeral Directors Association, ADEC, Blackberry Lodge #630, AF & AM, Elburn and the Community Congregational Church, Elburn.

Bruce and Kris’ love story was nurtured by, and grew with, faith and loving family ties; enriched and strengthened by an unshakable belief in God’s plan for their lives. Bruce wrote countless songs and stories that left special memories in the hearts of his children, niece, nephews and friends. There were songs of faith, songs for travel and adventure and even a song for “going to get a Christmas tree.” His most recent song, “My Offering, The Vision,” was penned in the last days of his life. Life values were a part of bedtime stories, and evening prayers and life lessons were taught by example. When Kris’ parents each faced serious health concerns, Bruce and Kris made room for Kris’ mother to live with them for a time. Later, Bruce’s mother made her home with them as well. Young people always found the door open both in times of fun and times of difficulty.

Bruce loved children and spent many years developing programs to help and to teach. He was a much-loved uncle to his niece and nephew and great niece and nephew. Then, he became a grandpa and “kids” took on a whole new meaning. He was a devoted grandpa who was never afraid to get down to their level, join in the fun, jump in the pool, and be as boisterous and hilarious as they were. He had special greetings for each one and always a “Ding-how” when they left. He wrote songs for each of them and a masterful Christmas story, “Bethlehem Kids,” which included not only his grandchildren but several other children who held a special place in his heart. The songs and the stories will remain, but perhaps the greatest gift was the lap that always had room for one more, the arms that embraced each child, the unconditional love and prayers that blessed each child.

Family went well beyond his wife and children to include his “work family,” which over the years changed in number and name but not in the relationship he had with them. Bruce was a man with countless visions for new programs, creative ways to celebrate life and ways to bring help to those in need. Throughout the months of his battle with cancer, he wrote inspiring journal entries on Caring Bridge that were read by thousands of people across the country. Even then, his thoughts were how to help others, but he did not realize how many he had touched with his God-given skills, caring, words, vision and faith, until the responses to those entries began to fill the guest book pages of Caring Bridge.

Bruce leaves his devoted, loving wife, Kris of Kaneville; his son, Ben (C.J.) Conley of Sugar Grove; his daughter, Sarah Conley of Seattle, Wash.; four beloved grandchildren who were the delight and sunshine of his life, Andy, Em, Matt and Mikey Conley; his sister, Karen (Les) Howard; his niece, Sheila (Phillip) Albano and their children, Nick and Katherine; his nephew, Bill Howard, all of Elburn; and his sister-in-law, Karen (Bill) Wooton of Geneva and their son, Daniel Wooton, also of Geneva; and his aunts and uncle, Ruth McCloud and Ralph (Ferne) Conley, all of Batavia. In addition, he leaves an extended family of cousins and their families, a devoted family of staff who have shared so much of themselves with him, and a countless host of friends whose lives have touched his through the years. Lastly, he leaves to those he loved these words: “the job of the visionary is to place the vision so that others can grab hold and then make it their own.” 

He is preceded in death by one child in infancy; his parents, Charles and Winifred Conley; one brother, Wayne, in infancy; his paternal and maternal grandparents; his father and mother-in-law, Lloyd and Gladys McConnaughay; and one uncle, George McCloud.

Visitation will be held at the Orchard Community Church, 101 S. Barnes Road, Aurora, on Thursday, Sept. 16, from 2 to 8 p.m.            

A service to celebrate Bruce’s life will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 17, at the Orchard Community Church. Pastor Kathy Lawes, a longtime family friend, will officiate, and interment will follow at Blackberry Cemetery, Elburn.

A memorial has been established in his name to benefit Conley Outreach. Checks may be made to Conley Outreach or the Bruce Conley Memorial and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119. Tributes and memories may be forwarded to the family at the same address or through the web at

Leslie L. Volkstorf

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Leslie L. Volkstorf, 34, passed away suddenly on Sept. 1, 2010.

She was the loving daughter of Charles H. and Mary E. (nee Andersen) Volkstorf; dear sister of Carl (Khandie) Volkstorf, and the late Jeffrey and Lori Ann; and dearest aunt of Matthew.

A visitation and funeral service were held Saturday, Sept. 4, at Colonial Chapel in Orland Park, Ill. Interment was private.

In lieu of flowers, memorials to Operation Blessing or Gentle Rohi Ministry are appreciated. Express your thoughts and condolences at

Phil ‘Santa’ Kuzlik

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A celebration of life for Phil “Santa” Kuzlik, 69, will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, at East Lake Community Church in Chapin, S.C.

The family received friends from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8, at Dunbar Funeral Home, Dutch Fork Chapel, Irmo, S.C.

An additional memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St, Elburn.

Phil died Sunday, Sept. 5, 2010. Born in Chicago, he was the son of the late Theophil and Marianne Alaksiewicz Kuzlik.

A member of East Lake Community Church, he served as a church usher and member of the greeter team. He was a graduate of St. Rita High School in Chicago. In addition, he had many hours of mechanical, plumbing and electrical training.

He loved working for the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and was supportive of all law enforcement branches. A man with a kind and giving heart, he played Santa during the holidays. He was always ready to help people and was the one others turned to when things needed to be fixed.

Surviving are his wife of 29 years, Pamela Olson Kuzlik; daughter, Denise Feltes (Jack) of Sugar Grove; son, Bob Kuzlik (Stephanie) of Dixon, Ill.; daughter, Kathryn Hofmann (Scott) of Elburn; son, Michael Kuzlik of St. Charles; daughter, Pam “Pammy” Kuzlik (Chris Busch) of Cleveland, Tenn.; stepsons, Jerry Carroll (Linda) of Lakeland, Fla., Randy Carroll (Toni) of Guyton, Ga.; 12 grandchildren, Anthony Stover, Anna, Sarah and Emma Feltes, Julie and Victoria Kuzlik, Chase Hofmann, Ciarra and Dylan Busch, Adeline, Isaiah and Joshua Carroll; sisters, Therese Kuzlik, Luanne Thiel Dehar (Allan); many unofficially adopted children; and beloved dogs, Maggie and Molly.

Special thanks to the staff of Palmetto Health Richland for their extraordinary care of Phil and his family.

Memorials may be made to Palmetto Children’s Hospital, P.O. Box 100199, Dept. 274, Columbia, SC 29202 or East Lake Community Church, ACTS Metro, 10057 Broad River Road, Irmo, SC 29063.

Please sign the online guestbook at

Virginia Claypool

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Virginia Claypool nee Noland Wilson, 78, of Sugar Grove, passed away on Friday, Aug. 27, 2010, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Virginia, also known as Ginni by her family and closest friends, was under the wonderful care of Tower Hill Healthcare Center in South Elgin and Passages Hospice during the final months of her life.

Virginia was born on July 17, 1932, in St. Mary’s, W.Va. At the age of 12, she was taken in by the family of Hal and Eunice Wilson. The Wilsons and their daughter, Dona Lynn, welcomed Virginia into their home, where she was adopted and became a member of a wonderful loving family.

Virginia attended Spencer High School and excelled in everything she did. She finished top in her class. She was also voted most popular and most likely to succeed by her classmates. After graduation, Virginia ventured far from home to attend Aurora College in Aurora, where she studied education and worked part time at All Steel in Montgomery. It was during this time in college where she met the love of her life and future husband, James Claypool.

After graduation, she taught English at the Community High School in Erie, Ill., and then at Franklin Junior High in Aurora. James and Virginia were married on June 22, 1957, in Aurora and began building their life together. In October of 1958, Virginia gave birth to her first child, Mark Claypool. At that time she gave up her teaching career to dedicate her life to her family. In 1964, James and Virginia adopted an infant girl, Lisa, and their family was complete.

Virginia worked as an admissions counselor at Aurora College and later served a term as President of the Alumni Association. Virginia attended Northern Illinois University and earned a Masters Degree in Education.

In 2000, the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease began to show and set the stage for the final years of her life. True to her nature, she did research to better understand and come to terms with the disease that would eventually claim her life.

Virginia is survived by her husband, James Claypool of Sugar Grove; son, Mark (Tricia) Claypool of Sugar Grove; daughter, Lisa Claypool Allen of Evanston, Ill.; grandsons, Tyler and Kyle Claypool and Joseph Allen; granddaughters, Brianne Claypool and Rose Allen; brothers, Bill Noland, Jack Stewart and Harley Stewart; sisters, Helen Boggs and Dona Lynn MacMurdy.

Virginia is preceded in death by her birth parents, Lula and Amon Noland; her adopted parents, Hal and Eunice Wilson; and two brothers, Eugene Hornbeck and Warren Noland.

Visitation was held on Tuesday, from 4 to 8 p.m. at The Healy Chapel, 332 W. Downer Place, Aurora, IL 60506. Funeral services were held at 10 am. on Wednesday, at the chapel. Graveside services will immediately follow at Sugar Grove Cemetery in Sugar Grove.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested gifts be made in Virginia Claypool’s name to the National Alzheimer’s Association or Aurora University.

Virginia Claypool—high achiever, loving wife, doting mother, faithful servant to God in life.

For information, please call (630) 897-9291 or visit to sign the online guestbook.

Annie “Ann” V. Gliddon

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Annie “Ann” V. Gliddon, 92, of Sugar Grove, passed away Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010, at The Tillers Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Oswego.

She was born April 5, 1918, in Elburn, the daughter of Earl and Gracie (Galiger) Wilkison.

Ann grew up in Elburn and attended local schools. During high school, Ann worked for Jane Nash in the hotel/restaurant in downtown Elburn. She graduated from Elburn High School in 1936. Following graduation, she worked as a waitress at The Farm.

Ann was united in marriage to Fred E. Goetz on Aug. 23, 1940, in the parsonage of the West Chicago Congregational Church. They welcomed a daughter, Ethel, two years later, and made their home in Elburn until 1968, when they moved to Sugar Grove.

Following Fred’s passing on Aug. 23, 1991, love favored her again when she was married to Almer T. Gliddon in Carrie’s Parlor at the Community Congregational Church of Elburn on Jan. 15, 1994. Sugar Grove continued to be her home with Almer and was where they enjoyed 15 years of love and memories until he passed away on Oct. 3, 2009.

While raising her daughter, Ann also worked at a tailoring factory for a time, as well as Burgess Norton during WWII. She returned to waitressing at the Fisher Cafe in Elburn for many years before turning to bookkeeping for her husband when they purchased from his dad the Elburn Hardware, Plumbing and Heating in 1954. After the business was sold 14 years later, Ann worked for the Henry Pratt Company. She retired 16 years later in 1985.

Ann was a lifetime member and Sunday school teacher for 10 years at the Community Congregational Church of Elburn and was a member of the Royal Neighbors of America. She was a 50-year member and past chaplain of the Elburn American Legion Auxiliary, Post No. 630, where she compiled a book of prayers that was dedicated to her sister Grace and won honors when it was submitted to a regional competition. In later years, Ann volunteered at Provena Mercy Center Hospital from 1990-94. During that same time, she was a member and past Treasurer of the Women of the Moose in Aurora, Chapter No. 83.

Ann loved her family and spent as much time as she could with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She never slowed down and filled her time with many activities and memberships but was at her best in the kitchen making mouth watering cookies, toffee, peanut brittle, pies and angel food cakes. Out of the kitchen, her hands kept busy sewing and crocheting, and any time left over was given to reading her favorite books.

She is survived by her daughter, Ethel (Bill) Cole of Manteno, Ill.; two step-children, Mary (Ken) Gustafson of Elburn and Steve Gliddon of Elburn; one granddaughter, Jacklyn (Bruce) Campbell and their children, Logan and Timothy of Yorkville; four step-grandchildren, Diana (Howard) Bentley and their children, Erica and Elizabeth of Concord, N.C., Tom Cole of Salisbury, N.C., Eric Gustafson of Geneva, and Jon Gustafson, of Geneva; and one sister-in-law, Lillian Windisch of Mountain Home, Ark.

She is preceded in death by her parents, Earl and Gracie; husbands, Fred Goetz and Almer Gliddon; seven siblings, Edwin Wilkison, Ray Wilkison, Cora Lee, Earl Wilkison, Jane Willis, Grace Kintz and Hattie Windisch; and two sisters-in-law, Marion Wright and Mable Simpson.

Visitation was Monday, at Community Congregational Church of Elburn, with a service following that evening. The Rev. Michelle Prentice-Leslie, pastor of the church, officiated, and interment followed Tuesday morning at Blackberry Township Cemetery, Elburn.

A memorial has been established in her name to benefit Sugar Grove Public Library, Sugar Grove Fire Protection District, the Elburn Lions Club, the Elburn Community Congregational Church and the American Legion Auxiliary Post 630 of Elburn. Checks may be made to the “Ann Gliddon Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or online at, where you can also find Ann’s full life story.

Mary J. Miller

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Mary J. Miller, 82, of Bradenton, Fla., formerly of Elburn, passed from this life to eternal life on Aug. 20, 2010.

She is survived by her husband, Dean D. Miller; her daughter, Frances (Tom) Wilson; three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

She now joins her daughter, Carol Ann Miller.

Her visitation will be held on Thursday, Aug. 26, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn. A service to celebrate her life will be held on Friday, Aug. 27, at 11 a.m., with visitation from 10 to 10:45 a.m. at the funeral home. The Rev. David Petty of Rockford will officiate. Interment will follow at Blackberry Cemetery.

A memorial has been established in her name. Checks may be made to the “Mary Miller Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or online at

Clare Groff Frantz, Jr.

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Clare Groff Frantz, Jr., 95, of Sugar Grove, passed away at his home surrounded by the love and prayers of his family on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010.

He was born Dec. 4, 1914, the son of Clare Groff Sr. and Eleanor S. (Tague) Frantz in Moorestown, N.J.

Groff lived in Chicago for a time. The family moved to Sugar Grove during the winter of 1925-26. Groff graduated from Sugar Grove High School with the class of 1934 and then joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and was stationed in Brule, Wis. A year later, he attended the University of Cincinnati.

Groff was united in marriage on June 4, 1939, to Jeanette Huggins and eventually welcomed home four children. They began their new life together in Hessville, Ind. Groff and Jeanette’s lives took separate paths in the fall of 1962, but he would be lucky in love once again when he met Ruth Boy Randall at a group called Parents Without Partners. They would soon have no need for the group when they joined their two families in October of 1963.

Groff served as a machinist apprentice at Youngstown Sheet and Tube in Hammond, Ind., eventually becoming a journeyman tool maker/ machinist just before WWII began. Groff received a deferment during war time and helped make engines for B-25 bombers in Chicago. Following the war, Groff and his then-growing family came back home to Sugar Grove and converted a local blacksmith shop into his own machine shop, complete with an upstairs apartment. In the late 1940s, Groff began working for many companies, including Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab. Any time not spent at work was dedicated to Groff’s imagination, and the results were born in his shop, which was where he loved to be. For 95 years, Groff’s hands never slowed.

Groff was a member of the Lincoln Highway Association, the Contemporary Historical Vehicle Association and the Auroraland Auto Restorers Club, where he served as president. As a Mason, he was a member of the Jerusalem Temple Lodge, No. 90 in Aurora. Groff was also a lifetime member, past Sunday school teacher and drew up the plans for the Fellowship addition at the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church. He helped establish the first Boy Scout Troop 41 in Sugar Grove. He formed the Sugar Grove Historical Society around his dining room table. In addition, Groff was also Past Assistant Chief of the Volunteer Sugar Grove Fire Department.

Groff’s achievements and inventions were only limited to the scope of his imagination. His machines were ingenious, his labor intensive, and the results were numerous and one of a kind.

When the children were young, Groff and Jeanette vacationed at a cabin in Hayward, Wis., and later, when Groff and Ruth’s families became one, trips to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan became an annual ritual. At first, the family spent their time living in tents until a cabin was built and later re-built, becoming a haven for family retreats. Groff and Ruth also loved to travel around the country with friends through the CHVA and the Lincoln Highway Association in vintage cars and motorcycles. Groff also built a roadster from the frame up using a Crosley Station Wagon, and his son Cliff now owns and shows it at local car shows.

He is survived by his wife, Ruth, of Sugar Grove; nine children, Clifton G. (Lynne) Frantz of Batavia, Nancy C. Wilkison of Elburn, David S. (Vickie) Frantz of Sugar Grove, Steven J. Frantz of Sandwich, Mark J. (Beth) Randall of Plain City, Ohio, David L. (Kathy) Randall of Yorkville, Terry M. (Jim) Jensen of Aurora, Jane A. (Ken) Laurie of Elburn and Dwight C. (Monica) Randall of Woodstock; 20 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; many nieces, nephews, cousins and a family of friends.

He is preceded in death by his parents; one brother, Thomas T. Frantz; and two grandsons, Curtis Groff Frantz and Jonathon Randall.

Visitation and a memorial service were held Monday, Aug. 23, at the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church, 176 Main St., Sugar Grove. The Rev. Steven Good, pastor of the church, officiated. Private family interment will follow at a later date.

In lieu flowers, a memorial has been established in his name to benefit the Sugar Grove Historical Society. Checks may be made to the “Sugar Grove Historical Society” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 102, Sugar Grove, IL 60554. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or online at

Marjorie Cecelia Klein

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Marjorie C. Klein, of Elburn, 87, passed away on July 13, 2010.

Marjorie was born on Aug. 17, 1922, in Taylorville, Ill., to Frank and Margaret (Lupton) Curtin.

After WWII, during which she worked at an aviation plant, Marjorie finished beauty school in Springfield, Ill., and became a licensed beautician. She practiced her art in Decatur, Ill., where she partnered with her friends in her first private enterprise.

After marrying Bill Salins, she moved to Chicago with her children, Judy and Billy, and operated Avalon Beauty Salon in Maywood and Bellwood.

Even after retiring, she continued to work for Hair Crafters in Elgin.

Marjorie was involved with the Holy Name Society, Elburn Book Club and Senior Vitality of Delnor in her later years. She did the crossword puzzle everyday.

Marjorie was a member of St. Peter & Paul Church in Virgil, where a memorial mass will be held in her honor on Saturday, Aug. 21, at 11 a.m.

Survivors include her son, Bill (Christine) Youmans; her grandson, S. Aaron Etienne; and her niece, Marjorie Ann (Jim) Schick and their son, Robert.

Marjorie is preceded in death by her daughter, Judith K. Etienne; and William D. Youmans, Bill Salins and Ralph Klein, her loving husbands.

In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to The American Cancer Society in honor of Marjorie at or American Cancer Society, 225 North Michigan Avenue #1210, Chicago, IL 60601-7833 (312) 372-0471.

Joan I. Needham

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Joan I. Needham, 74, of DeKalb, formerly of Maple Park and Big Rock, passed away on Wednesday, July 28, 2010, at the DeKalb Area Retirement Center in DeKalb.

She was born on May 26, 1936, in Aurora, the daughter of Lloyd and Helen (Schuld) Fritsch.

Joan was raised on a farm outside of Big Rock and went through 12 years of school there. After graduating from Big Rock High School, she entered the Copley Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Aurora, and made many lifelong friends there.

Joan was united in marriage on Sept. 23, 1956, at the Baptist Church in Big Rock, to Mr. Donald C. Needham. They made their first home in Maple Park.

Joan went to work as a registered nurse at the Sycamore Municipal Hospital and continued there until 1970. She held many positions, including charge nurse of pediatrics, evening house supervisor, and assistant night house supervisor.

Joan’s family began to grow; Pamela Jo was born in 1957 and Peggy Ann was born in 1960. In 1969, Joan accepted a position at the new Mid-Valley Area Vocational Center, where she was one of the eight “original” teachers who developed curriculum and taught junior and seniors from the participating schools.

Joan went back to school and earned her baccalaureate degree from the College of St. Francis in 1977. After completing her degree, Joan moved on to Delnor Hospital in St. Charles for three years, working as an in-service education instructor. In 1980, she was hired as director of education at DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Facility.

Joan graduated in 1981 from Northern Illinois University with a master’s degree in adult education. She also taught continuing education courses for nurses and nursing assistants at Kishwaukee Community College, Elgin Community College and Waubonsee Community College.

Joan’s career expanded when she began writing textbooks for Delmar Publishers in New York. She authored, co-authored and contributed chapters for a total of 13 books. In addition to writing, she served as a consultant for the development of media materials used in teaching nurses and nursing assistants.

Through the years, Joan was active at Grace United Methodist Church in Maple Park, serving as a Sunday school teacher, and on various committees at First United Methodist Church in DeKalb, and as secretary for two years for the United Methodist Women. Joan was also a member of the Illinois Nurses Association and Delta Kappa Gamma sorority for women in education.

Joan was an original board member establishing the Maple Park Public Library in 1963 and continued to serve on the board for 20 years. She volunteered at both the DeKalb County Hospice and the DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center.

In her spare time, Joan enjoyed several hobbies, including photography, needlework, sewing, genealogy, traveling and entertaining.

Joan is survived by her daughters, Pamela Needham-Volkert of Rochelle, Ill. and Peggy (Jeff) Yagen of Maple Park; her grandchildren, Samuel Volkert of Rochelle, Ill., Margaret Joan Yagen of Maple Park, Kim (Todd) Stecker of Creston, Ill., and Stephanie (Eric) Kersten of Ashton, Ill.; her great-grandchildren, Noah and Luke Steckert, and Madison and Elias Kersten; her brothers, Ken (Barbara) Fritsch of Wheaton, Ill., and Ron Fritsch of Chicago; her sister, Beverly (Gene) May of Sugar Grove; her good friends, Blen and Perry Lakin, Gwen and John Fox, Barbara Hoffman, Myrna and Bob Stouffer; and many nieces and nephews.

Joan was preceded in death by her husband, Donald Needham; and her parents, Lloyd and Helen Fritsch.

A funeral service will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 31, at the First United Methodist Church, 321 Oak St., DeKalb, with Reverend Laura Crites officiating.

Friends may visit from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, July 30, at the Nash-Nelson Memorial Chapel, 141 N. Maple St., Hinckley. Interment will follow in the Ohio Grove Cemetery in DeKalb.

Memorials in Joan’s name made by made to either the DeKalb County Hospice, 2727 Sycamore Road, DeKalb, IL 60115, or to the First United Methodist Church, 321 Oak St., DeKalb, IL 60115.

Joan’s family would like to thank the DeKalb County Hospice for their wonderful care of Joan.
Arrangements by Nelson Funeral Homes & Crematory, (815) 286-3247. For information, visit

Donna Mae Crook

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Donna Mae Crook, 76, of Elburn, formerly of Lily Lake, passed away surrounded by the love and prayers of her family, Tuesday, July 20, 2010.

She was born Dec. 15, 1933, in Elmhurst, Ill., the daughter of Donald and Mable (Anderson) Talty.

Before she was 1, her father took a different path. Mable then married Edward Reinink Jr., who became the man she always saw as her father.

Donna jumped on a train each day to attend Wheaton High. Her younger years were filled with happy memories and times spent in the family-owned meat market and general store, Andersons, in Elmhurst.

She found love very early in life and caught the eye and the heart of William Crook. They were united in marriage on Oct. 21, 1950, in Warrenville, Ill. Donna and Bill spent many years raising a family and making their house a home.

When Bill became afflicted with MS, Donna became his caretaker for more than 20 years. Their love increased with every day; their bond becoming unbreakable until his passing in 1993.

They began their new life together on the family farm for a time until 1953, when they moved to Lily Lake. They built a new home two years later. After Bill’s passing in 1993, Donna moved to live with her son, Tom, and his family for the next 13 years.

Donna’s heart was big enough to care for the world and everyone in it. For most of her years, she was affectionately known by all as “Grandma.” She never met a stranger, and very few ever left without having their lives changed for the better.

Never one to brag about herself, Grandma could do anything. She worked on the farm, at a pickle company for a time, worked as a welder, and later worked many years in the restaurant industry. Grandma worked at The Farm Inn in Wasco, Campton Inn in Lily Lake, and later at the Kountry Kettle in Elburn.

Family was most important in her life, so for the next many years she helped take care of her grandchildren, spoiling them rotten and loving every moment. Grandma was a fixture in their lives, present for every step and every accomplishment.

She went back to work after the grandkids were grown at her best friend and daughter Linda’s restaurant, Gert’s Place in Batavia, before dedicating her energy and care for the next many years at the Valley Sheltered Workshop until December 2009. It was the perfect place for a woman with an unlimited amount of love to give, and it didn’t take long for her to adopt “her kids” as her own. They adopted her as well, and the legend of Grandma grew exponentially.

Later she was featured in several newspaper articles lauding her hard work and determination, and deemed her the reason for the continued success of the shelter. After meeting Grandma, no one was ever the same, and the mark she left on the hearts and minds of all she knew will last for generations and beyond.

She is survived by her son, Tom (Deborah Lee) Crook of Elburn; seven grandchildren, Ted Crook, Jenny (Jason) Peak, Billy Norton, Eleni (Mark) Zelazoski, Cynthia Higgins, Kit Crook and Cody Crook; seven great-grandchildren, Emma Peak, Danielle Norton and her daughter, Lilly Ann; William Norton Jr., Brandy Norton, Joey Melby, Ashley Zelazoski and Derek Zelazoski; one sister, Charlene Terlecki; many nieces, nephews and a countryside of “family” that will never forget her.

She is preceded in death by her parents; husband, William; daughter, Linda Runge; son, Willy (Doreen) Crook; sister, Kaye Brogie; and brother, Ed Reinink.

A memorial service will be held to celebrate her life on Saturday, July 31, at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn, at 10 a.m. Interment will follow at Lily Lake Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in hers name to benefit Valley Sheltered Workshop and other favorite charities. Checks may be made to the “Donna Crook Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at

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