Molly J. McElwee, 80


Molly Jo McElwee, 80, of Charleston, formerly of Harvel, died peacefully on Saturday, July 24, 2021, at her Arbor Rose of Charleston home.

Visitation will be held Saturday, July 31, from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Adams Funeral Chapel in Charleston. Funeral services will follow, beginning at 12 p.m. at the chapel with Pastor Ken Hoover officiating. Burial will be held at Roselawn Cemetery in Charleston.

Mrs. McElwee was born June 24, 1941, in Taylorville, to R. Wayne and Margaret E. (Bruntjen) Bates. She married Billie Lowell McElwee on Oct. 12, 1970, and he preceded her in death on Aug. 21, 2018.

She grew up not too far away from Taylorville on the family farm near the small rural town of Harvel. She was a graduate of Morrisonville High School and moved to Charleston to attend Eastern Illinois University, where she earned both a bachelor’s and master's degree in education and business.

Mrs. McElwee taught kindergarten in both the Sullivan and Kansas school districts and worked in the placement office at Eastern Illinois University. For many years, she served as the office secretary for the Mattoon Jr. High School, retiring in 2000.

When she met her husband, he was entertaining with the ever-popular Bill McElwee Band. It was the band that brought them together and they complimented one another beautifully. Their love song continued to play for the next 47 years.

Mrs. McElwee was a longtime member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Charleston and member of the Women of the Elks and Women of the Moose Charleston Chapter 1175. 

She was musically gifted. In high school, she was a majorette for her high school marching band, played the organ and entertained with her husband for more than 50 years. Through the years, many couples danced the night away listening to the music of her and her husband. 

Mrs. McElwee and her husband also emceed queen pageants for several Illinois County Fairs, and many newly crowned fair queens took their first walk on the runway accompanied by her at the organ. 

She was an avid reader who enjoyed a quiet afternoon or evening with a good book, but it was her family which brought her immense joy. She never missed an opportunity for a family boat outing on the lake or to attend grandchildren’s events such as baseball games or ballet dance recitals. She will be missed and affectionately remembered by family and friends who loved her dearly.

Mrs. McElwee is survived by her children, Terry “Sam” (wife Teresa) McElwee of Springfield, Diana Yamamoto of Bloomington and Tanya (husband JC) Getche of Kansas; bonus family of three stepdaughters, Bridgette (Jim) Waldau of Okeechobee, FL, Jerilyn (Matt Albers) McElwee of Chantilly, VA, and Shawn (Bill) Veach of Punta Gorda, FL; 11 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; sister, Judy Britton of Oblong; several nieces and nephews; brother-in-law, Dwight McElwee of Charleston; and sister-in-law, Beth Bates of DuQuoin.

In addition to her husband, she was preceded in death by her parents; brother, Dr. James A. Bates; and sister-in-law, Norma McElwee.

Memorials may be directed to Illinois Elks Children’s Care Corporation and can be left at the service or mailed to Adams Funeral Chapel, 2330 Shawnee Drive, Charleston, IL 61920.

Online condolences to the family may be left at


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