OLD SETTLERS MEMORIAL PRAYER • Pausing 'In The Garden' To Remember


One of the favorite old time hymns in our Christian community is “In the Garden.” It comes to mind when occasions like this arise, when we pause to remember those who have passed from us during the last 12 months; gardens, almost assigned a hobby status in our current culture, were once scenes of activity, even during the heat of the day, but they were also retreats for those with wounded souls once evening arrived.

Sounds of nature in the dusk are universally soothing; we who have lived through the stress of politics, of the upsetting of routine caused by the virus pandemic, need a soothing retreat. That’s especially true for those of us who have suffered loss of life within our families, so we come to the garden of promised solace both alone and as a body to turn to Thee, our Father God, in times when we need Divine understanding and assurances.

We can imagine too our loved ones coming to meet Thee in a quiet garden spot as the portal to life beyond that which we know. We can take comfort in that. Believers also take comfort in their knowledge that we too can trace our loved ones path through the roses, accompanied by the birds’ calls, till we also hear Him welcome us to His kingdom as He welcomed them.

First we mention the homemakers, the ladies who did their best to keep orderly homes in what seems to be an annually more disordered universe. Families send much loved children into a sometimes unwelcoming world with high hopes for their offsprings’ success -- but the success so much depends on the strong base the home provides. We bring forth Shirley Reincke, who with husband Bud raised six sons near Irving, taking time from her brood to drive a school bus but always present when her boys or grandchildren had a ball game to play.

Helen Merriman, once a one-room schoolteacher, teamed with husband Russell “Bur” Merriman to farm just east of the county line road dividing Montgomery and Fayette counties. Their home produced three sons and three daughters. He was a World War II Army veteran. She was named a Woman of Distinction for the Springfield Diocese, and they belonged together. She passed in late August in 2019; he passed this past June. Also from Fayette County was Edith Reindl, whose son Steve and family live in Hillsboro. One of the daughters, Mrs. Stan (Cindy) Huber, lives in Coffeen, and two daughters, Pam Kennett and Angela Ohms, live in Hillsboro.

Cindy Dixon, a retail antique dealer as well as a homemaker, is survived by three stepdaughters in this county. Coffeen High School graduate Frances Cole belonged to the East Fork Baptist Church, made quilts and babysat in her home; two daughters survive her. Verda Chappelear, born in Greenville, married Rex, and they raised a productive family on their farm south of Hillsboro. Their seven children all settled in this area, perhaps because mom was a great cook. Shirley McGill lived in Reno, Donnellson, and Panama during her lifetime as a homemaker and crafter.

Caroline Masinelli was born in Carlinville, lived for a time in Wilsonville, but passed in Hillsboro. One of her daughters lives in Taylor Springs. Peggy (Andrews) Pogue was a homemaker who enjoyed traveling and taking walks. Rural Bingham farm wife May Della Probst attended Canaan Chapel; one of her sons is a Hillsboro veterinarian. HUMC member and attendee Dorothy Wille formerly lived on Lake Hillsboro and enjoyed deer hunting and fishing.

Marilyn Snoddy and husband Bud ran a local sanitation service and drove busses for HCUSD #3, but much of her time was devoted to raising their two sons in Schram City. Carol Fenton, a homemaker from Butler, raised her granddaughter. Arlene Trost, a Hillsboro homemaker, was heavily involved with the Girl Scouts organization and was a member of the Lioness Club. Anna Scheldt, the mother of Hillsboro’s Carol Lazenby, drove a school bus for Litchfield between homemaking duties; two grandchildren and a great-grandchild live in the Hillsboro area. Bette Condo was a homemaker, seamstress, upholsterer, pianist, composer, and Clairol hair model during her lifetime; she passed at the Hillsboro Rehabilitation and Health Care Center. Greenville’s Maxine Maroon left a son and his family in Donnellson.

Patricia Snow, a Mulberry Grove graduate, lived most of her life in the Coffeen area before moving to Hillsboro. She leaves a son, nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Dianna E. Hamby of Irving was born in Springfield; among surviving children are Michael “Mikey” Gorman of Hillsboro. Iowa native Sueann Williams died in early December at her Hillsboro residence while Debi Cantrall, who lived in Coffeen at the time of her death, enjoyed reading, cooking, and playing poker. Dorothy Lyttaker, once of Donnellson, was a member of the Panama VFW Post.

Laura (Richmond) Moler had worked at the Shell station on South Main but preferred her role as stay-at-home mother and grandmother. Glendora Godbersen was a 4-H leader who attended Bethel Baptist Church. Her daughter lives in Hillsboro. Betty Moore, a Butler native, and her husband sent five daughters to graduate from HHS. She was a member at Ware’s Grove Lutheran. Born in Japan, Sue Titsworth lived her life as a housewife in Donnellson, also working briefly for DeMoulin in Greenville. Her son Richard still lives in Donnellson.

Tillers of the soil, those who smell dirt after a soft rain and live partly at the whims of nature, perhaps understand garden images more fully than we city-slickers. Besides the Merrimans, the local ag community lost both farmers and those who worked with them. That community shrinks as farms grow in size - as do the challenges. We are grateful for all who labor to feed a world full of hunger. 

William “Bill” Tucker raised cattle, sheep and hogs near Rt. 127 directly north of Butler. A strong supporter of the county’s 4-H programs, he lived to be 100. Mark David Huber grew up on a farm between Coffeen and the CIPS plant. He secured a bachelor’s degree related to agriculture and went to work for M&M Service in Macoupin County; he also served as an umpire and referee for junior high and high school athletic events. Charles Meisner, a farmer and a rural mail carrier in Jersey County, is survived by many grandchildren, one of whom, Rachel, lives in Hillsboro.

Dean Brown farmed and raised children along the North Road; he was also involved in the insurance business. A son and his family farm the homeplace. Leta Logsdon was a helpmate to husband Charles on their family farm. Dave Rahe was a gentle and intelligent big man who worked for Soil Conservation until his retirement, even doing a stint with the Army Corps of Engineers. After retirement, he began his own soil study company to aid crop development on area farms; he and his wife sent two sons through HHS and university studies to give them a solid foundation for their futures. He also volunteered his time and knowledge locally to Bremers, the Natural Area Guardians and to the Breakfast Sertoma Club.

Ed Kulesza’s acreage was along Rt. 185 east of VanBurensburg. A Korean War veteran, he worked for McDonnell Aircraft and for Woolsey Brothers (in Vandalia) after his service stint. He was a 45 year member of the Bethel Baptist Church. Kenneth L. Brown of Coffeen farmed, drove a milk truck route, worked for the phone company, and belonged to the Coffeen Lions Club. Robert Schniepp farmed near Nokomis. A 1950 high school grad, he was deployed to Korea during that war. His daughter was a physician in Hillsboro before moving to California. Army vet Clarence “Ace” Hoehn of Fillmore farmed after his discharge. Panhandle (Farmersville) resident Bill Whitworth grew up in the Butler area and graduated from HHS in 1959 before joining the Army. He became first a fertilizer salesman and then a company executive with Potash Corp.

Father God, next we turn to name those who gave up stretches of their lives so that we can have gardens to visit as we wish. Once they left their homes to defend us; now they leave their earthly homes to meet Thee. Among them is James Mutchler, who after service in the Marine Corps established a plumbing contract business in Hillsboro. An HHS graduate, he held memberships in the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 137, and in Operating Engineers 520. Though he moved out of state, he has children now with families of their own in the local area. HHS grad Don White was an Air Force veteran who returned to farm with his brothers near Irving and to run the Country Kitchen Restaurant there while also working at Eagle Picher. Don’s brother Dale also passed recently; he too was a veteran but of the Navy. He too farmed; a member of Ware’s Grove Lutheran Church, he had served on the Hillsboro School Board and the Montgomery County Board. Dale set scoring records as a basketball player at Irving High School. A son and grandson operate the family farm.

Allen Marfell went to the Air Force, then spent another 31 years in the Air National Guard based in Springfield. A Witt native, he raised his family in Hillsboro. HHS sports star Charles Boston, who also played basketball and baseball for Bradley University, was an Air Force veteran. Local survivors include his brother, Joe Boston, and half-brother, Albert Oberle. Born in Schram City, Dale Traylor graduated from HHS and St. Louis School of Business. After World War II began, he enlisted in the Marines; after WWII was over, he became a local lineman for Illinois Power for 38 years. After retiring from IP, he served as this county’s Emergency Services Director for 15 more years.

Dave Imler’s impact on this community was much larger than the number of years he lived among us. A native of Ohio and a graduate of the Air Force Academy, he was a pilot during the Vietnam era. He and his wife moved to the Coffeen area a decade ago, and he became a director for Hillsboro Area Hospital and was active in St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and Sertoma. Dave Baugher, born in Irving, was an electrician’s mate in the Navy who came back to work for and retire from Granite City Steel. Sons Toby and Chris were HHS athletes who coached and teach in Litchfield. Dave’s brother, Joe, another Navy man who served in the Korean War, came home to mine coal at Coffeen, to labor for Eagle Picher, and to drive a school bus route.

Lyle Hanauer, an Army medic who earned a Purple Heart in action in Italy during WWII, worked in Springfield for Allis Chalmers (and Fiat Allis) for over 30 years. A resident of Taylor Springs more recently, he became a loyal camper at Rainmaker Campgrounds during the summer. Hudson Mugge attended elementary school and junior high in Hillsboro while his father was superintendent of schools here. An Army veteran, Hudson served in the Middle East. His father, Michael, left Hillsboro for Murphysboro in 1986; an Air Force veteran, he preceded his son in death by seven weeks.

Frederick “Gene” Govaia, a 1959 graduate of HHS, was a member of the Military Police during his Army tour of duty. He then mined coal in Coffeen and Carlinville before finishing his working career at Casey’s on School Street. James S. Young was a truck driver for Bunn Capital of Springfield after serving in the Marines. Three of his brothers and two sisters still live in Montgomery County. Michael B. White, who lived in Springfield, worked for the Springfield Park District. The son of Burrel and Doris White, he grew up on a farm along the Red Ball Trail and served in the Army National Guard from 1971 until 1978.

Witt native Charles Ettling lived in Wood River after his service in the Navy during the Korean War and worked as a tool and die maker for McDonnell Douglas/Boeing for 39 years. Brother Ed still calls Witt home. Marine Corps veteran and HHS grad Kenny Cruthis of Panama drove a truck for Cassens and was a member of Teamsters Local 604. 1960 HHS grad John Currie was an Army veteran and Caterpillar employee who lived and farmed near Cerro Gordo. Army veteran Lloyd Taylor of Pana (his daughter, Angel Lynch, lives in Witt) was a millright in Decatur after his discharge. Litchfield native but Hillsboro resident Kenneth Meyer was an Army veteran whose tour of duty included time in Germany. He became a truck driver and a coal miner.

Phil Crouch lived on the Crouch farm just west of Coffeen while he and his siblings attended HHS; he returned to that farm after serving as a Naval Hospital Corpsman and worked as a nurse for the health department and at the Taylorville Correctional Center. He was also a valued member of the Coffeen Volunteer Fire Department. Army veteran James P. Raburn was born in Missouri but moved to this area in 1975. He raised his children in Irving and was a painter by vocation. Mulberry Grove graduate Samuel Bohle became a concrete finisher after his service time. Among his survivors are a daughter in Irving and a son in Hillsboro.

Mark Hoehn of Witt was an Air National Guard veteran who enjoyed aircraft if one can judge from the restored F-4 sitting near the first curve on Rt. 16 as one enters Witt from Irving. Marine veteran Earl McCormick graduated from Mulberry Grove; he farmed and worked at the Coffeen power station. A son and grandson survive in Coffeen. Bill Lentz, Jr., of Witt belonged to the Lions Club there; an Army veteran, he has three brothers in Hillsboro. Gloria Hall had been a waitress in Pana; a daughter, Cynthia Oller, survives in Witt. Coast Guard veteran Robert T. Moral of Fillmore came to this area from Florida where he was a cross-trained firefighter and port authority officer.

Earl “Glen” Moreland of Ramsey has family in the more immediate to us area; after six years in the Air Force, he worked for the U.S. Postal Service in Hillsboro while serving an additional 25 years plus with the Air National Guard. Hillsboro native George Huber of Vandalia was an Army veteran who used that experience as a springboard to a legal career; he also farmed. Born in Sorento, Roy L. Starnes became a Korean War vet who then worked in Florida before retiring to Coffeen. He passed in March; his wife, Lucy, who had been a retail clerk, passed in mid-June.

Vera Clark, the mother of former Hillsboro resident John Clark and the grandmother of Hillsboro area residents Joei Sanford and Jacqui Anderson, was a WWII veteran of the Women’s Army Corps. Cynthia “Cyndy” White of Coffeen died at a sister’s home in Joplin, MO. The wife of Charles “Buck” White, she was an Air Force veteran, serving as a dental hygienist. In civilian life she designed and collected jewelry. Vietnam Era Air Force veteran Charles McCoy, Jr., lived in Staunton but has family in Hillsboro. He worked as a welder/repairman for Chrysler in Fenton, MO, after discharge, and was a member of the United Auto Workers Union. Thomas Gad lived in Panama and graduated from HHS. After serving in the Army, he headed for Chicago and a career as an electrician.

William “Bill” Beeler, a Marine veteran of the Korean War, lived in Butler but worked out of Wood River Local #338. Locally he is survived by a daughter, two sons and their families, eight grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. Billy Archer spent 13 years in the Air Force, then farmed north of Butler along Rt. 127. He also drove trucks and instructed truck drivers for Buske Trucking.

Those who come to the garden usually are shown the way by others, professionals who teach or ministers who lead us to the right pathway. We lost our share of them in this chaotic year; we raise their names to Thee as a good-bye to them. At times they labored locally; others put down roots here in the love of a solid home before excelling elsewhere. Coffeen’s Richard “Bud” White served as a professor of education at Eastern Illinois University for over 30 years; his own college training was semi-local as he did his undergraduate work at Greenville. Lodema States came to Hillsboro as Lodema Grove to teach home economics; when changes in educational curriculums developed, she became an elementary school teacher at Beckemeyer. By then she was Mrs. States and had two children, both of whom became HHS and then college graduates. Husband Bill still lives in Hillsboro.

LaMoine Reeves, of Donnellson, was an eighth grade teacher and principal at Coffeen School while it had junior high status. A Navy veteran, he served on an aircraft carrier during the Korean War. He was a charter member of the Coffeen Lions Club and had served on the Hillsboro Area Hospital Board and the Hillsboro Education Foundation Board. Survivors include a son Geoff and family and brother Roger of Hillsboro and three grandchildren. Until illness took its toll, he and his antique GMC pickup were regulars at local car shows. Carl Gates graduated from Coffeen High School, served as a pilot in the Air Force, worked for the U of I, and became a professor of Economics and Business at Sauk Valley Community College. Anne (Paton) Wade was raised in a house on the HHS campus – one’s educational roots can’t be deeper than that. A 1951 grad of HHS, she had a very productive career, teaching first in Coffeen and then in District #3 where her husband was a coach. Her brother Hugh shepherded the flock at St. Paul’s Lutheran; a nephew still worships there. Mrs. Wade lived to be 100.

Paul Londrigan, a U of I graduate, taught high school English, first in Decatur and then in the suburbs of Chicago before moving to a lakeside home in Hillsboro to enjoy his retirement. Locally, Donna (Betoche) Springer graduated from Hillsboro High in 1970 and married her high school sweetheart. Trained as a classical pianist, she taught music for Hillsboro schools. She and Denny owned Bassett hounds and Great Danes; both of their sons were heavily involved in music. Nellie Mackey taught elementary school, first in Irving and then at Beckemeyer. Her children and then her grandchildren attended HHS. She was a graduate of Fillmore High. Jim Kull was the first computer aided drafting teacher at HHS. He also taught industrial arts and building trades; he utilized those skills as a landlord in Hillsboro. Sorento native Bonnie Bollman lived to be 102. A Greenville College graduate, she earned her master’s degree in education from U of I; she taught elementary school and wrote poetry. Dave Hendricks was one of the first technology teachers in the area, instructing at Litchfield High from 1975 to 1990 when he became technology director there. Three daughters survive in Hillsboro.

We have lost four pastors since last August. The Rev. Abraham Brown’s commanding voice echoed through St. James Baptist Church (and from the pulpit at memorable Old Settlers church services) before he moved to the Jacksonville area. The Rev. Herbert Coates was the Free Methodist Church minister from 1954 until 1958 when the church was located on Birch Street. Mike Fogle, Jr., of Danville, who grew up in Schram City, attended theological schools and became a minister in the Sidwell UPC. He was a passionate fan of the Creation Museum in Kentucky; his mother, Lucille Caulk, survives in Hillsboro, as does a niece and two nephews. Pastor Karen Devaisher, the valedictorian of her class at Witt High, worked as a church secretary before entering seminary when she was 49. Eventually she was ordained as an elder for a United Methodist Church in a suburb of Indianapolis.

Steve Traylor wrestled at HHS for four seasons. After becoming a rural mail carrier in this area, he advanced to wrestling national legislators as a lobbyist in D.C. for the National Union of Rural Letter Carriers. For those who knew him, his years in retirement were too few. Carroll Ann (Imle) Mears, whose family once owned and operated the Red Rooster, left the halls of the Rooster to walk the halls of the White House as press advance for President Jimmy Carter when D.C. was a more civil place than it has become. A talented pianist, she also worked on Humphrey’s presidential campaign before becoming a television newscaster.

Veterinarian Charles Vail had a clinic on Hillside Avenue for 34 years before he retired to Arkansas. Before his civilian life he served as an Army flight gunnery trainer during WWII. 1948 HHS graduate Carolyn Millhorn of Bettendorf, IA, married in Hillsboro and raised her two children here before moving. A flautist and a journalist, she wrote for The Montgomery County News while in the area. Ricky Jones of Hillsboro was a Special Olympics participant and a sports fan. Robert L. Baron of Donnellson was a native of Taylor Springs and a SIUC grad who worked as an engineer for Boeing Aircraft. He was an Air Force veteran. Myrtle M. (Kendall) Massey went to Evergreen Place in July of 2019 after living in the Hillsboro/Sorento area. A bookkeeper/accountant, she leaves a stepdaughter in the Irving area. Virginia (Carriker) Bright was born in Irving 103 years ago. An HHS graduate in an era when females couldn’t take a high school diploma as a given, she taught grade school in Irving and, more uniquely, Morse Code at Scott Field during WWII.

Evelyn Vincent of Taylor Springs had lived in Bingham and was a country school teacher in the Ramsey district before becoming activity director at a Hillsboro nursing home. She has a daughter and granddaughter living locally. Maud Belden had worked at Hillsboro Area Hospital and at Coffman Drugs in Litchfield; her daughter lives in Taylor Springs. Greenville High graduate Terri L. McGibany lived in Taylor Springs and spent 33 years working for the Illinois Department of Human Services in this county.

Many of us moved to this area in search of a better job or a better lifestyle, for new soil to tend. When we do so, we create distances between ourselves and those who nurtured us; when they pass, we come to Thy garden to pray for them and for us. Local attorney Steve Cullison’s mother, Loretta May Cullison, was a faithful Methodist in Belvidere who began her working career in one-room school houses. William “Bill” Shalter, once of Ottawa, IL, retired to Sun City, AZ. He was the father of Will Shalter, who served as CEO of the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation until becoming a teacher in Christian County. William “Bill” Harmon, the father of local body repair shop owner John Harmon, ran Harmon’s Country Catering for 20 years. He had also worked for McKay Auto Parts and for International Paper.

A local educator, Jean Hobson, lost her father, James Jankus, in April. A paratrooper in the Korean War (101 Airborne Division), he became dean of students at Bloom Trail High School. Another junior high instructor, Mary Ellen Mathews, lost both her father, Charles McIlvoy of Glen Carbon (he was an industrial engineer for Granite City Steel) and her mother, Laura McIlvoy, a registered nurse who preceded her husband by four months. The Rev. John Curtis of Carlinville, the father of Hillsboro’s Lisa Sullivan, last served the UMC in Carlinville and Rural Church east of Carlinville. Litchfield’s Barbara Ann Rentz was the mother of David Strowmatt, currently head of the county’s Veterans Area Commission. She retired from the Department of the Navy in 1997. Nancy L. Atkins of Greenville was the mother of Laura Garmon (HHS science teacher Mark Garmon’s wife) and the grandmother of Hillsboro students Megan and Miah Garmon. A pastor’s wife, she had worked as a daycare teacher and a nurse’s aide. Terry L. Hays of Kansas, IL, and the father of Mrs. Emily (Mark) Hughes, was a Vietnam War Marine veteran. A member of the Christian Church, he was a retiree of the U.S. Postal Service. He worked out of Charleston and Paris.

Ruth Welge didn’t live far away as she worked as a cook at Waggoner School and with poultry in the Raymond area. She was the mother of Jerry Welge of the Coffeen area. Patricia Wilson, a CNA at the Litchfield Health Care Center, is survived by three sons, including Terry Wilson of Hillsboro. Gertrude Yokley, who lived in Williamsville, was the mother of Dennis Yokley, long-time manager of Hillsboro’s branch of Roger Jennings. Zonna Elane Culbreth of Johnson City is survived by two sisters with local connections, Janice Grimes and former resident Fran Harvel. Mark Thompson, a steel worker for Laclede Steel, leaves a son in Hillsboro; and Charles Randle, who was born near Walshville, became a construction worker who retired in 1993. A daughter survives in Hillsboro. Also with a daughter and her family in Hillsboro is Sharon Tarrant, an accountant from Taylorville.

James Henry of Edwardsville, the father of Diane (Henry) Beeler and great-grandfather of children with Hillsboro roots, was a construction worker. Camilla (Paden) Mayer was born 102 years ago in the Woodsboro area. A 1936 HHS grad, she married in the local Presbyterian Church and lived in St. Louis until her husband retired and they moved east. Relatives remain in the area. H. Edward Miller of Collinsville left a sister (Kathryn Long) and two brothers (Larry and Terry Miller) in the Hillsboro area. Harold Hartman grew up in rural Hillsboro; a daughter and sister survive locally. Jeff Schoen was a welder and machinist; a brother and sister-in-law survive in Hillsboro. His and Greg’s mom, “Chris”, worked most recently as a CNA at St. Francis.

Nokomis’ Jean Storm is survived by two sons (one in Hillsboro and one in Irving) and a daughter in Fillmore; she was a homemaker. Kevin Burdell, a ‘92 graduate of HHS, sold trucks for Rush Truck Center in Springfield. Cliff Mueller’s sister, Janet Poggemoeller of Okawville, had been a CNA and activity director in Alhambra and Aviston. Wesley Edwards of Peoria, an Army vet, is survived by two daughters in Irving and a sister, Faye Weller, in Hillsboro. He had worked for Caterpillar. Anna V. Ragland of Litchfield, famous for the pies she baked for local restaurants, is survived by a daughter, Virginia Diesselhorst of Coffeen.

At times people drop into our midst for a while and then they physically move on. Always a bit of their spirit remains to be mourned as they move through their last gardens. Al Schumacher belonged to and held leadership positions in the United Methodist Church as he headed the loan department for what is now the Bank of Hillsboro before moving to their branch bank in Vandalia. Daughter Kelley and two grandchildren still call Hillsboro home. Geraldine “Jeri” Strange Landholt graduated from HHS and became a medical lab technician and a medical transcriptionist who lived to be 100. Joyce Ann Huber, who was raised northwest of Coffeen, became a computer programmer for the Illinois Department of Revenue in Springfield. A strong advocate of the Right-to-Life movement, she often contributed letters to The Journal-News.

Carole Kay (Ronk) Terneus, an HHS graduate, passed in Chesterfield, MO; after leaving the Hillsboro area, she became an executive secretary for St. Louis School and Hospital before concentrating her efforts on her family. She leaves a sister in Hillsboro. Andrew Homa became an Army veteran; he returned to civilian life to have a career as an insurance executive for Franklin Life. Born in Texas, Eunice Moore graduated from Coffeen High and was married in Coffeen. Living in Springfield, she was active in the Calvary Church. Born in Schram City, Darlene (Gualandi) Andre attended HHS before moving to East Chicago, IN, in 1955 after the mine in which her father worked closed. She retired after working in the automotive parts industry.

Fillmore High grad Dorothy “Dot” (Knodle) Wittnam taught in a one-room schoolhouse. She and her husband were married for 65 years before his death three years ago. She passed in Billings, MT. Phyllis (Simmons) Steward, a ‘65 HHS grad, a concert-level pianist, and a former English teacher, earned her master’s degree from the U of I in labor and industrial relations. She retired from the university’s management team in 1999. A brother survives in the Butler area. Roger Mollett moved from here to Springfield to work for the State Police as a computer programmer, then became a supervisor for the Department of Corrections. Julia (Edwards) Sanks grew up in rural Coffeen/Hillsboro and graduated from Millikin University in Decatur. After marriage and a move to Georgia, she enjoyed a long career in education, including operating a Sylvan Learning Center for ten years.

Coffeen native Doris Pickel became a bookkeeping supervisor at Soy National Bank in Decatur while living in Mt. Zion. Two brothers and a sister still live in the Coffeen vicinity. Larry Robbins, a mason, moved his family to Jacksonville, FL in the late ‘60s; he was a member of the International Bricklayers Union for over 60 years. HHS grad Kelley G. Durbin served in the Army Reserves and worked at Laclede Steel in Alton. Brother Barkley survives in Springfield; sisters Brenda (Hillsboro) and Cathy (Witt) are in our immediate area.

People of business come to and pass through gardens too. The past summer has been one of stress for our business community; we pray Thy grace and peace touch them as they face the still unknown in this era of challenges. Harry Ashmore ran a scrap yard on Railroad Street for years; he was a World War II veteran who provided a valuable service for the area even before recycling was advocated. Kansas transplant Ron Reeves was a landscape architect for the state before opening Illinois Wood Preserving (now Hixson Lumber) on School Street. Reeves became involved with the Chamber of Commerce, sat on the hospital board, and was elected to the city council. His son and family still reside locally.

Rose Patton came to Hillsboro with her husband Pete to own and operate the Patton Funeral Home on the corner of South Main and Tremont. They raised their family here before moving to Springfield in 2006. Numerous HHS graduates attended Lincoln Land Community College bolstered by a Patton Memorial Scholarship. They also sponsored the local fast pitch softball team that entertained the community while playing on the Taylor Springs field. Most towns had softball teams then. Merle McFarlin, a graduate of Ranken Tech, managed the Family Fun Center across from the pool in Central Park and was co-owner of Sweet Addictions on South Main.

Ruth Osborn worked for Montgomery Ward when they had a store in Litchfield. Then she owned and operated the Red & White grocery store in Butler. A housewife as well, she was a member of the Union Presbyterian Church. The last member of the HHS class of 1933, Aileen J. Hucker, lived to be 105, and was a woman of many talents. Once the owner of Hucker Radio and Television (across from Triangle Park where Fairground intersects with Rt. 127), she was also a florist, an interior decorator, a seamstress, and an Illinois employee. A daughter, Nancy Glassmeyer, and a granddaughter, Anne Foster, live in Hillsboro. Dorothy Gleichman and husband Spec ran a plumbing business in Hillsboro; daughters and grandchildren of the couple grew up in the farm home near Butler. Dorothy had been a ‘49 graduate of Hillsboro High. Delores Hughes, who with husband Stan lived west of Hillsboro along Rt. 16, once worked for Boeing Aircraft in South Dakota. After her marriage, she was a secretary for the State Farm Agency in Hillsboro.

Earl Sorrells’ gravelly voice became a fixture on WSMI airwaves as he reported market prices and read from his mom’s diary. A farmer and influential Republican, he also operated a farm supply store and elevator in Raymond and was a member of the Hillsboro Area Hospital Board of Directors. Ilean Himes of Fillmore worked for the state, for Allis-Chalmers in Springfield, for a Packard Auto Company, and for Robbins’ Restaurant in Vandalia before switching gears to care for family. She was a member of the Fillmore United Methodist Church.

HHS grad Kay Grill’s son and daughter also graduated from the same school. Her working career included time spent at Security Savings and Loan; her recreational time centered around bowling with friends in multiple leagues. Verna Sarsany of Witt clerked for several businesses; she was first a member of St. Barbara’s Catholic Church of Witt and then of St. Louis Catholic Church in Nokomis. Coffeen High graduate Ila Butler and her husband managed a grocery store, laundromats and various rental properties in Hillsboro.

Hazel Redman, a member of Ware’s Grove Lutheran Church, was born in Butler Grove Twp. She and husband Bill owned and operated two diverse businesses over the years - the Hiltop Bakery on South Main and Whispering Hills Christmas Tree Farm on Seven Sisters Road. She also worked for Kroger in Litchfield. Four children survive, as do two sisters, Bev Davis (near Coffeen) and Helen Brinkman (Hillsboro). Hillsboro native Danny DeWitt moved to the Metro-East to become a representative for a laboratory sales company - and a Methodist lay speaker. HHS grad Teresa Claybrook worked for the Social Security Administration for more than 30 years. Karen Wayne was a beautician who had salons in Morrisonville, Taylorville, Hillsboro, and Irving. Former Hillsboro resident Betty Brown and her husband owned Brown Aluminum locally, and she also worked as a cashier at IGA for 22 years.

Ralph Calvert was a colorful character who lived in Fillmore. He once ran a buffet restaurant there and managed the Hillsboro Country Club for a while. Calvert was a Korean War veteran. Louis Rudis moved here after working for Tosetti and Associates in Nokomis and Bruce Webb Insurance in the Panhandle area of the county. A daughter and two sons live locally. A 1989 grad of HHS, Tony Hayes looked forward to spending time with his nieces and nephews. He worked at Wareco (a gas station across from the Dairy Queen) and IGA.

Verna Shuck, a Bunker Hill native, ran a restaurant that served those working at the shoe factory and Hillsboro Glass. Later, as a resident of the Village Apartments on Hamilton Street, she took pride in decorating for the holidays. Coffeen native Emma Jean Barnes was an Air Force wife who became very active in the United Methodist Women’s organization, serving on the board of the Cunningham Children’s Home in Urbana for over 50 years. She also served as president of the Chatham Library Board and sang in church choirs.

Lila Ann Page, born in Barry but a ‘71 HHS graduate, was a cashier at Wal-Mart for over 20 years and a supervisor of a youth center in Litchfield. Maxine Willett, a massage therapist who worked from home, enjoyed outdoor activities. She leaves her husband in Hillsboro and a daughter in Fillmore.

Again this year, our Father, we came to the garden to remember those who died too soon. We remember them with sorrow because of our loss, but also because they had too little time to form memories of their own. Caleb Martin became a certified computer aided draftsman for an East Alton company. His time with wife Bethany, a Journal-News employee, was too short (by 50 years) before cancer called him away. Chandra Bosler attended HHS; her life ended at age 30. 

Patricia Hoxsey, formerly of Sorento, left four children as she passed at age 26. She had worked at Burger King in Litchfield and McDonald’s in Pinckneyville. Taylor Tomazzoli, whose father was raised here and whose paternal grandparents still live here, planned to be a surgical assistant before she was called away. Andrew Robinson was a young man whose father and daughter live in Hillsboro. Erica Cravens, 26, a waitress at a local restaurant and the mother of two, passed as her life was just beginning.

As we come to this garden of memories, thoughts of those who reported to physical work each day trudge with us. Good people know the dignity of sweating for their family, for the joy of a good day’s labor for a good day’s pay. Jim Summers, Sr., of Coffeen was a custodian of Hillsboro Unit Schools for 18 years before working at Graham Correctional Center for 21 years. He bred and sold dogs as pets, was a volunteer fireman, and helped with the Coffeen food bank. Shirley J. Snow, born in Ramsey, married Benny Snow at Mt. Moriah Church and cooked in area restaurants.

A ‘73 graduate of HHS, Patricia Ann Greek became a postal employee. Ernest Frayer from Fillmore had been a builder of grain bins. Roy Treadway worked as a painter, then labored for Illinois Consolidated and then as a gunsmith. A 1966 Witt High graduate, Cynthia (Frank) Hawn, worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield. Ralph (Joe) Jennings of Irving attended Hillsboro schools. Mark Clemons of Panama worked at the Indianapolis Speedway, as a DJ in West Virginia and Florida, and sold luxury cars in Florida before retiring locally. He was also considered an accomplished drummer with much interest in marching bands.

Panama native David Calufetti, a 1956 HHS graduate, became a heavy equipment operator who belonged to Operating Engineers Local #920. Jutta Shroyer, who was born in Germany, lived in Hillsboro for 47 years and worked in the laundry department at nursing homes. Three of her children still reside in or near Hillsboro. Allen Dunlap worked in local factories before becoming a resident of Hillsboro Nursing and Health Care Center for several years. Kay (Hamby) Augustyniak, an ‘83 HHS grad, worked as a waitress and at Schutt Sports. Two brothers and her parents survive here. Eloyious (Bailey) Kinder was a telephone switchboard operator back in the day in both Hillsboro and Litchfield. She moved to Iowa in 2016 to be near her daughter’s family. She was the sister of the late Jim Bailey, a local law officer.

Tom Mikolasek, a ‘72 HHS grad, was a deacon in the Calvary Baptist Church. His wife April and three daughters also graduated from HHS. A truck driver, he belonged to Operating Engineers Local #965. Born in Fillmore Twp., Henry Ernst served in Germany for the Army during the Korean War. He came back to civilian life by using his mechanical abilities as a partner in an auto repair shop, as a repairman at the Coffeen mine, and as a mechanic at Wright Ford. Son Steve followed in his footsteps. John Petcher, Jr., a Hillsboro native, was a factory worker at Eagle Picher and Sherwin Williams when the zinc oxide producer owned that plant. Mildred Thacker worked at Hillsboro Glass for over 15 years as well as for the railroad hospital in Chicago when she lived there.

Margaret Clanton was a farm wife east of Coffeen; a seamstress, she worked in area garment factories and at Roller Derby in Litchfield. Joe Childers spent his last years in the Coffeen area after working as a candymaker for the Brach’s plant in Chicago. Ronald Fry lived along Rt. 16 between Hillsboro and Litchfield. He and his wife operated a greenhouse. He also labored for Echlin Brake Parts and then Affinia in Litchfield; the couple served the community as foster parents. Marian Holcomb had been a postal clerk. Irving’s Gary Lehnen spent many years with the Hillsboro Water Department. Jimmie Dean Hayes of Witt, a self-employed carpenter, died as a result of a fatal mechanical accident at his home. Appreciated locally as a person who rescued dogs and found better homes for them, he is survived by his wife, mother, two sons, and five grandchildren.

Ronald Rhodes of Irving worked as a forklift operator for Firestone Tire Company in Decatur and enjoyed metal detecting. Dennis “Butch”  Hollingshead was a retired railroad engineer. David McDonald of Fillmore had been a truck driver. Janice Bergman held jobs at Shell (the gas outlet in the ‘Boro), Casey’s, and as a bartender. She lived in Hillsboro and Irving; her children reside in Hillsboro. Leaving grandchildren in Hillsboro was Viola Nockman, who worked for Roller Derby, then was hired by and retired from Hillsboro Area Hospital. Korean War veteran Robert Codemo was a long-time member of the work crew at the Coffeen power plant; three of his children graduated from HHS, and great-grandchildren are in the area.

Ron Compton, a Hillsboro native, graduated from HHS in 1974. A welder, he held membership in the local country club. He is survived by his mom in Hillsboro, a daughter in Coffeen; one brother and two sisters. Josh Eckert had a wide skill set; he worked as a chef at area restaurants and also installed grain bins. Robert Miller was self-employed as a mechanic at Hillsboro Auto on the curve of Rt. 16 as one drives west toward Litchfield. Lamar Yeske of Witt served our country in the Army during the Korean War. A long-time Witt United Methodist member, he served his city on their fire department and worked at Caterpiller in Decatur.

Norton Henke of Panama graduated from HHS and became a supervisor for the A.O. Smith Corporation. In his youth Henke was one of the better amateur baseball players in this area. Coffeen resident Verna Emerson, an Oklahoma native, worked as a cook at Hawthorne Lodge for 40 years. An attendee of Grace Fellowship Church, she is survived by her children Drury, Jr.; Berdina; and Jeff and their families. Chris Compton of Panama became an over-the-road trucker after graduating from HHS. Then he was a salesman, distributor, and installer of restaurant equipment. Seven siblings are among his survivors. ‘67 HHS grad James D. Keith, an Army veteran, became a pressman, first for the House of Sunshine in Litchfield and then for the Litchfield News-Herald. Donna Cunningham was a beautician who moved from Reno to Butler (in 1990). She was a member of the Reno Presbyterian Church; four of her five children live in Butler.

Barbara Fenton, a Hillsboro native, worked for the school district for 27 years. As a hobby she made Barbie clothes for dolls belonging to many area youngsters. Robert Kirkwood of Bunker Hill worked for Aladdin Steel in Gillespie for over 25 years; he leaves a daughter (Bobbi) and her family in Hillsboro. Bea Carter worked in the bakery department at the Hillsboro IGA; daughter Robin lives in Hillsboro. James Revisky, a long-time Panama resident, was a truck driver (Teamsters Local 604) who received a heart transplant 19 years ago. James “Spanky” Lane of Butler graduated from HHS and worked as a laborer out of Local #1084. Three brothers survive in the area. Robert Haslett, a Coffeen handyman, leaves four brothers and a sister in the area. James Cordray of Virden was born in Springfield, married in Panama, and worked in Carlinville as a truck driver until his retirement in 2019. He attended Hillsboro High with the class of 1965. Ronald Rosko, a Witt High graduate, served in the Navy for three years, then had a long career in industry; mining, including a stint at Coffeen and time as a mine inspector; and as a business owner as a partner with his wife in the R&D Tavern in Witt.  He was a member of St. Mary’s Orthodox Russian Church in Benld.

Diane (Redfearn) Essex, a ‘75 graduate of HHS, grew up and lived in Panama. She worked at Echlin Brake Parts and later ran a day-care center in her home. Robbie Maroon of Donnellson worked at the Coffeen mine for ten years, then mined in Albers until becoming a Bond County highway maintainer until retirement in 2008. A member of the United Mine Workers, he enjoyed racing cars at Highland Speedway. Joe Bercume lived in Donnellson while cooking for Lu-Bob’s Restaurant in Greenville. “Annie” Booth of Sorento worked for Owen’s Glass for 27 years; then she cleaned houses and managed laundromats, working for wages until she was 88. A daughter and a sister live in Hillsboro.

J.D. Davidson lived in Macoupin County, but he was born in Hillsboro and has family in Butler and Hillsboro; he was a truck driver and boilermaker. Billy Joe Webb, Jr., of Coffeen was a member of the Teamsters and a driver of semis delivering cars across the nation. Paul Estell of Litchfield had been a forklift operator for International Paper; he has a son in Hillsboro. Alan Redding was born on his family’s farm near Sorento; he became a painter after painting railroad bridges. A member of Painters Union Local 910 for 59 years, he is survived by children in the Litchfield and Butler areas. Arthur Unterbrink of Greenville had twin grandsons, the Knops, graduate from HHS; he was a carpenter, worked for Nevinger Refrigeration, and owned his own construction company in his working career. During his retirement, he and his wife ran a convenience store on the lake in Keyesport. JoAnn Hampton was a cook for many area restaurants during her career after graduating from HHS. Born in Sorento, she lived and worked in Hillsboro for most of her life; one brother, Larry Dale Halleman, survives in Witt.

Dave “Tiny” Andrews was a giant of a man with a caring heart. He was a member of the Litchfield Police Department before entering upon a 30 year career as a deputy sheriff for Montgomery County. After retirement he served as president of the Senior Citizens Board which meets in Taylor Springs. Bob McNealy served many roles within the criminal justice system: as dispatcher for Hillsboro Police and Fire Department, as chief of police in Wilsonville, and as a board member with the Alton Belle Casino. He was a member of the Hillsboro Baptist Church and pastored the Reno Baptist Church. Vietnam Army veteran the Rev. “Bob” Mosser had a 27 year career as a chaplain at Graham Correctional Center.

John D. Durbin, who grew up in Hillsboro and Witt, retired to Florida after retiring from Graham. Locally a daughter, two sisters, and two grandsons are among the survivors. Gary Camerer drove from Gillespie to guard prisioners at Graham until his retirement in 2001. Zala Meyer, a Coffeen High graduate, became an LPN by studying at Capital Area Vocational Center and then worked in area nursing homes before 22 years of employment at Graham. Gary Lutz, a Vietnam vet who earned a Bronze Star, returned to Hillsboro as a police officer before doing the same work in St. Louis. Nokomis’ Betty Rench served as an accountant at Graham.

Those who tend to us when we’re ill, both on our journey to the garden and our last days in it, have always been important but often overlooked (until medical emergencies and pandemics threaten) roles in our culture. Among those who took the final steps this year are Witt High School graduate Betty Hobbie, a medical stenographer who spent 40 years in the medical field in Los Angeles before returning to the area. She was a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran.

Marilyn (McQuern) Webb, an HHS grad, lived in Peoria and worked as a registered nurse at St. Francis Medical Center there. Barbara Jean Morell, who lived in Hillsboro, was a nursing assistant and activity director at Hillsboro Rehab and Health Care Center. Sandra C. Toberman, a native of Dixon, was a medical transcriptionist; her husband and son Trevor live in Hillsboro. Michael L. Guinn, Sr., was an HHS grad, an Army vet, and a CNA in that order. He worked at both the Montgomery Nursing and Rehab Center and for Hillsboro Health Care and Rehabilitation Center.

Augusta (Pfeifer) Hartman of Coffeen was an LPN, first at Greenville Hospital, then at Hillsboro Rehabilitation and Health Care Center. Five of her six surviving children live in Coffeen. Panama native and 1948 graduate of HHS, Betty Malisia worked as a nurse for many years at Hillsboro Rehabilitation and Health Care Center and at St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield. She also taught Sunday School, and she is survived by four children, seven grandchildren, and nine great-grands. Judy Owen was an LPN and homemaker who enjoyed making jewelry. Tammy (Lawson) Novotny, a 1977 HHS grad, worked as a ward clerk at Hillsboro Area Hospital. Her husband, Mark, survives locally, and her son, Lucas, lives in Cabot, AR. Mary Read of Witt, a native of Decatur, had been a registered nurse at Hillsboro Area Hospital. Mary Beth Shreve had attended HHS and worked as a CNA  at local facilities.

Mary Chesser was both a nurse at St. Francis and head nurse for Dr. Dan Wujek; daughter Jami lives in Hillsboro. Pauline White of Walshville was a CNA for both Hillsboro Area Hospital and St. Francis Hospital who also provided home health care and assisted with Bible School later in her life.

Lord, we who survive another year will meet again, spiritually if not physically, with Thee and each other in mid-summer of 2021, to walk with Thee, to talk with Thee, and to pray to Thee for those whom we remember. To do so gives us joy as Thou grants the peace which has been promised and for which all souls seek.


Writer, reporter, columnist, statistician, and retired educator, Ron Deabenderfer annually pens the Old Settlers Memorial Prayer.  This year's prayer includes those on The Journal-News obituary pages through July 30.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here