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Opal Dearduff, 103

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Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013 4:28 pm | Updated: 2:55 pm, Fri Jun 21, 2013.

Opal Dearduff, 103, of Litchfield died Tuesday,  June 11, 2013, at 1:40 p.m. at her daughter’s home in Decatur. 

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 28, at Plummer Funeral Home in Litchfield. Funeral services will be held Saturday, June 29,  at 11 a.m. at Union Avenue Christian Church in Litchfield with the Rev. Jay Johnson officiating. 

Burial will be in Elmwood Cemetery in Litchfield. 

Mrs. Dearduff was born on Oct. 7, 1909, the daughter of the late John Hardin and Mattie Leru (Hicks) Tipps, in the home place of her parents' farm near Scottville.

She was the oldest daughter and second oldest child of eight children: Glen, Dorothy, Martha, Ralph, Wayne, Dale and Mary.  Growing up on a farm, she learned early how to be responsible, to work and to care for others. She attended a one-room school near Scottville and then high school in Scottville. Her form of transportation was by horseback.

Mrs. Dearduff attended Blackburn College for two years after graduating from high school in 1927, and then took summer classes at Normal State Teacher's College.  She taught in four one-room schools: Victory, Oak Hill, Tick Ridge and Summerville.  During her time at Summerville, on Feb. 15, 1935, she married Virgil A. Dearduff, Sr.  They built a home at 904 West Union Avenue (Route 16) in Litchfield.  Virgil had a son, Virgil A. Dearduff, Jr., who lived with them.  His daughter, Pauline, was already married.  In 1947, they built the Dearduff Roller Rink and Snack Bar on the property next to their home. Virgil was in charge of the skating side and Opal was the cook and later waitress in the snack bar.

Mrs. Dearduff was baptized in Union Avenue Christian Church in Litchfield, where she served as the head of the primary department for 38 years and then taught the women’s Mary Martha Class for 12 years. She was also a greeter and an elder. She served home communion, visited in the nursing homes and lastly, gave the Minutes for Missions during Sunday services.  

Music was a big part of her life.  When growing up, the family would gather around the player piano to sing, while her father played the Jew's harp and someone else played the guitar. She could also play the piano "by ear."  She and her sister, Dorothy, sang for various functions in the area.  They even sang on the radio at KXOK in St. Louis.  In 1982, she joined the Prairie Voices barbershop chorus affiliated with Sweet Adelines. She even competed in St. Louis that year against her daughter singing in the Decatur Chorus.

Mrs. Dearduff loved to sing the old hymns at church. She also loved to  square dance when growing up.  In high school over the noon hour, she learned what was to become her favorite dance, the polka.  She danced in Springfield, Vandalia and Pana. When she was 94 and again when 97, she danced the polka with a partner to the vocal music by the Decatur Chordsmen at their annual shows in Decatur.  She was still dancing on her birthday in 2012 at 103 years of age.

She was a member of the Montgomery County Farm Bureau. She was also a member of the Litchfield Woman's Club, where she served as president, education chairman, telephone chairman and treasurer. She served on the budget committee and the executive board, attending district board meetings.

After her husband died in 1966, Mrs. Dearduff went back to teaching school, first in Fillmore and then Nokomis. While teaching, she drove to SIU Edwardsville for two years to get her teaching degree (which was not required in 1929).  She retired at 65 years of age, but continued to drive to Nokomis to substitute until she was 93 years old.

She loved to write poetry and give readings. She had a doll collection, started by friends and family, as gifts for birthdays, Mother's Days and Christmas.  She also had a huge hat collection and presented programs, writing her own script.

Mrs. Dearduff had the opportunity to travel in later years. In the early 1980s, she accompanied her daughter and granddaughter to Hawaii.  In 1991, she accompanied her daughter, studying abroad, to Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Hungary.  Then, in 1993, she accompanied her daughter and new son-in-law, Bob, to Hawaii and Australia. While in Hawaii they located the grave of a nephew, John Dains, a pilot, who was killed on the day that Pearl Harbor was attacked. 

At home, she loved to be outside mowing on her big John Deere.  In fact, she was mowing during the summer of 2012 when 102 years old.  In 2004, she was recognized by Heritage Manor in Litchfield as "Sensational Senior."

Mrs. Dearduff is survived by her son, Jim Dearduff (companion Kathleen Arnold) of Litchfield; daughter, Joan (husband Bob) Hedgcock of Decatur; grandchildren, Jeffrey J. (wife Cathy) Dearduff, Jeanine Dearduff, Janice (husband Kevin) Taylor, Jeffrey D. (wife Pat) Barr and Jim (wife Bonnie) Barr; great-grandchildren,  Catherine Dearduff, Stephanie Dearduff, Matti Taylor, Spencer Barr, Collin Barr, Riley Barr and Erin Barr; nieces, nephews and cousins.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her  husband, siblings, stepson and stepdaughter.

Memorials may be made to Union Avenue Christian Church.  

For more information, to light a candle or sign the online guestbook, please visit  www.plummerfuneralservices.com.

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