OTHER DESERVING MOTHERS
Jennie Lou Ayers of
Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative
Nominated by her
daughter, Jo Ann Yeaman
"I, Jo Ann Yeaman, have
the best, loving, caring, sharing, thoughtful, helpful, patient,
considerate, outstanding mother anyone could ever ask for. Her name
is Jennie Lou Ayers!
This mother cooks,
sews, cleans, plays chauffeur, is in charge of two fellowship cook
hours at a church of 400. If anyone calls in, she is filling in the
spot baking cookies again.
Anytime I have any kind
of spot on any of my clothes, I just take whatever top, pants, coat,
and she will work on the spot until it's gone.
My mom makes curtains
for my home. I pick out the material and she sews them for me.
My mother also helps
get 300 newspapers delivered seven days a week.
My mom cleans houses
for approximately 12 families for special occasions and some weekly.
You can depend on the job to get done when one asks her to do
My mother is a bargain
hunter. We both love garage sales, auctions, coupon saving, or
shopping. Then on the other side, my mom is the most giving person I
know. If you needed her sweater, she would take it off her back and
put it on yours. The same goes with money. If she had 10 cents and
you needed it, she would give it to you. This is just another one of
the characteristics that makes her the best mother of the year.
My mother wallpapers
and paints. She recently just got done redoing their walls on their
26 year home. I'm just so proud of her and all the talents she
possesses and shares.
My mother is the
president of our women's group at Sugar Creek Church. Always
preparing meetings and refreshments and programs. Very busy woman my
mother Jennie is.
My mother also has made
the blankets my niece, nephew, and I sleep with. She sews up vinyl
seat covers with an industrial sewing machine. My mother washes other
people's clothes, curtains, blankets, and coats. All one has to do is
ask and she will do her best to accommodate the request.
Advice – Oh my, if
I'm upset about anything I can talk to her anytime day or night. She
is always there 24 hours, 7 days a week. She usually can tell if I'm
bothered about something! I talk to my mom at least once a day. I'm
47 years old and work full time. But my mom is always available when
I need, want, or got to get a hold of her.
I'll tell her usually I
only have half an hour lunch today. She'll bring me a hot lunch when
I want her to. No one could have a mom like I have.
Mother shares her
knowledge with anyone. If one needs to know what to put on poison
ivy, she knows. What to take blood out of the carpet or glue off an
object. She always has the solutions.
My mom always wants to
be involved with what her family is doing. If she can be at a special
event where her son, daughter, daughter-in-law, or two grandkids are
at, she will be there no matter the cost or distance. That is
another wonderful way my mom can express her love for her family.
My mom can express the
love of God she holds in her heart not only by action, but deeds and
sharing her experiences.
I nominate Jennie
Lou Ayers as the best mother of 2009! Inside and out there could be
no one better!
Jo Ann Yeaman"
Cleo Braeuninger of
Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative
Nominated by her
daughter, Karen Brockelsby
"I believe my mom, Cleo
Braeuninger, is certainly Illinois Country Mother of the Year.
Although she will be 85 years old this year, she continues to
epitomize the work ethic of the traditional farm wife. She is well
known as a wonderful cook, homemaker, and gardener. My mom's love
language is definitely service to others. An outstanding example of
her commitment to her family occurred during the summer of 2007. My
oldest daughter became engaged and expressed the desire she'd had
since childhood – to be married next to Grandma Cleo's flower
gardens. Some family members thought it too great an imposition to
ask my 83 and 85 year old parents to host an event involving 300
guests. I, too, had concerns about the enormity of the project but my
parents didn't even hesitate to welcome Kelly and Justin to plan
their wedding on their farm. In fact, they seemed honored. Mom always
spends hours daily in her gardens from April to October, but that
summer she went into high gear to see that every flower bed,
vegetable garden and rock border were in top shape for the big day.
With the help of a huge tent and lots of rented tables and chairs,
the farm was transformed to a romantic wedding site. It turned out to
be a day that our family reflects on as such a wonderful memory that
was possible only because my mother was willing to invest her time
and energy to see her granddaughter's dream come true.
Through the years, my
mom has always been there for whatever I or any of my siblings
needed. That need could be for anything from childcare to advice. I
still call with cooking and gardening questions. I am usually the
host for family Thanksgiving dinner. My mom is often over the day or
two before to help with preparations. (Believe me, when Cleo helps
clean house, it's done far better than when I work alone.) She's the
first one to arrive on the day of the dinner and dives right in to
whatever needs to be done. She's the last one to sit down after every
dish has been dried and put away. Mom always welcomes any extra
guests any of us bring to her table and goes the extra mile to help
them feel at home. My mom has taught me far more than I can tell
about how to really be there for other people, what it means to look
out for the needs of others, and how sometimes the most important
thing you can do is to hold your tongue. The world would be a
healthier, happier place is all families had the loving influence of
a mother like my mom, Cleo Braeuninger."
Trish Wright of
Nominated by her
daughters, Rose and Emma Wright, ages 11 and 8
"My mom is the ultimate
country mom because she loves living in the country. She grows a
family garden. She also enjoys sewing and knitting, and being with
kids. Mom’s been in a 4-H club, and even as a grown-up she still
loves sheep, cattle, small farms, and all the places our food comes
from. Read more about the ways my mom is the best country mom.
During the summer, when
we grow most of our own fruits and veggies, she’s out there every
day, carefully watering and weeding those little plants like only a
mom could. On summer nights, during dinner time, Dad will ask, “What
went into this?” and it turns out Mom’s made a use of basically
our entire garden. My mom loves to find ways to save money and
energy, and the garden is one of the ways she does that.
Our mother is one of
the friendliest people I know. On days when our friends are coming
over to play, Mom makes cookies, brings out the homemade grape juice,
and enjoys coming up with crafts or games for us. During the summer,
she lets us invite half the neighborhood over to have a “water
jump”, which includes us kids jumping on the trampoline while Mom
sprays us with water from the hose.
She also sews lots of
things. All of her kitchen aprons are sewn, and most of our
pillow-cases and blankets, she made also. My sister and I have never
had a store-bought Halloween costume, and so being, we have a great
dress-up area, that’s well-known among our friends. Having a
weaving loom, my sister and I each have cozy shawls made of bright
colors. Have I mentioned that she knits? Our cousin, who moved away
from the country to Chicago, has a wool sweater knitted by Mom, I
have slippers, we all have hats and mittens, and Mom has a plentiful
supply of dishrags. She even formed a once-a-month
knitting/crocheting group at our church.
When we come home to a
steaming-hot house, we know it’s one of Mom’s canning days.
Everything we don’t eat from our garden in the end of the summer is
canned to make tomato soup, green beans, salsa, jellies and jams, and
much more. I often take raspberry-banana applesauce in my lunch box.
There is an entire shelf in our basement dedicated to “Mom’s
Canned Things”. Mom grew up on a sheep and dairy farm and was in
4-H, so she knows a lot about how to make your own food and have it
To wrap it all up, my
mom is the best mom I know, and her creativity has no end. She’s
friendly to anyone and everyone, has a knack for doing things
herself, and does her part to support our electric cooperative. These
are the main reasons why my mom is a great country mom."
Cindy Kelsey of
Woodford County (Not on cooperative lines)
Nominated by her
daughter, Karrie Gerber
"I would like to
nominate my mother, Cindy Kelsey, for Illinois Country Mother of the
Year. My mom is a kind and generous person who always puts others
first. My mother has led a life of generosity and giving, and has set
an example for her four daughters of living life in a worthy manner.
She has been a partner to our father on our family farm for 35 years.
Over the years she has played a key role in caring for their swine
herd and, at times, was largely responsible for the well-being of the
sow and piglet shed. My mom would be the first to tell you that her
first choice of occupation would not have been vaccinating young pigs
or pressure washing dirty sow crates, however she did it for the good
of the family farm and to assist my dad. As most farm wives would
tell you, being married to a farmer can consist of not seeing your
spouse nearly enough. Today, the farm is no longer in the business of
farrowing. I cannot help but think that if my mom had not given of
herself during the years that the farm needed her, my parents may
not have the luxury today of scaling back (just a bit) and enjoying
some time together.
My mom has given a
great deal of herself to her four, now grown, daughters. From cooking
meals to sewing Halloween costumes, nothing was ever done without
giving 100% to her children. She devoted a great deal of time to the
extra curricular activities that her children were in involved in.
Cindy coordinated special music events and was particularly known for
the decadent desserts she created for an annual show choir concert.
No one will ever know how many costumes she sewed or strawberry pies
she made, but her commitment to her children and the other students
in their school is well known in our community.
adulthood, Cindy's four daughters continue to rely on her for
counsel, advice, wisdom, and support. Her children are scattered
around the country, but she continues to give of herself to them in
any way that she can.
One might question why
I am nominating my mother at this time in her life. Some of her
exemplary actions have taken place in the past, and her duties of
being an “active” mother raising small children have past.
Perhaps it is because I am now a mother myself and have a new
perspective on the sacrifices my mother made to give me a wonderful
childhood. If anything, it is one small way of expressing my
gratitude for all that she has done for me and for others around her.
I continue to observe her giving of herself in a motherly way to this
day. She gives continually to her children and to other families in
her church and community who need a lending hand. It may only be my
opinion, nut I believe that my mother is the Illinois Country Mother
of the Year."
Sandra Peper of
Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative
Nominated by her
daughter: Kay Peper
"We always hear that
raising children isn't easy and that is especially true when you have
10 like my mom. My mom is the most hardworking and generous person
that I have ever met. Life has not always been easier for her, but
somehow through it all she has kept her sense of humor and kind
nature. Now she is also the grandmother of 10 and there isn't
anything that she would not do for her children and grandchildren.
My mom became a mother
for the first time a few weeks shy of her eighteenth birthday and has
never looked back. She spent the next seventeen years having nine
more. A total of 5 boys and 5 girls. While my dad worked, my mom
stayed at home with us running the house better than any drill
sergeant could. Chores and schoolwork came before fun and games, nut
there was always time for both.
When my older brothers
entered high school, and my parents needed extra money for class
rings and senior pictures, my mom got a job as a cook in a local
restaurant. She would get up at 5:00 am to cook hot breakfast (no
cold cereal in our house) and pack lunches before leaving for work.
After working an 8 hour shift, she would be home in time to get us
off the school bus and make us a healthy homemade dinner.
My mom has been there
for every good and bad event in our lives. She was the Cub Scout
leader, the cheerleader at our games, and cried at our graduations.
How she managed to nurse ten of us through every childhood illness,
cuts, bruises, and broken bones, I will never know.
Two years ago, I found
out that I needed ankle surgery and would be on bed rest for four
weeks. I called my mom having no idea how I was going to be able to
spend four weeks without being able to work and take care of my house
and dogs, and being the great mom she is, she said “Don't worry.”
She took off work to stay with me at my house even though it was
financially tough on her and Dad. During that time, she did
everything for me from cooking, cleaning and laundry to helping me
shower and get dressed. Boredom set in pretty quickly for me, so she
tried her best to keep me entertained. Even though she hates to drive
in St. Louis, she would say “Let's go to Target today” just to
get me out of the house. Eventually I was able to take care of
myself, but she would call every day to see how I was doing. One day,
I was so upset because I could not climb up and down the stairs, so
she and Dad came to pick me and my dogs up and take me back to their
house until I was able to walk better.
My mom is the best mom
in the world because she would sacrifice anything in her own life, if
it would make life better for one of her children or grandchildren."
Susan Marie Skaggs
of Menard Electric Cooperative
Nominated by her
"I just wanted to let
you know about our mother, her name is Susan, but she has eight
children that call her Mommy and one that calls her Grandma. Susan
married her high school sweetheart 25 years ago, gave birth to six
children and took two special children in of her family members that
weren't able to care for them. She also has a special needs son. This
isn't the first time she has helped. She volunteered at Ciedc
Community Action for several years delivering and bagging up
government commodities or sometimes unloading the truck. She also
helped a young woman from our town with her two children when she
gave birth, caring for one for three months while setting the young
mother up with employment, an apartment and necessities. Susan was a
Tri-County Americorps member and a tutor at our middle school. Mom
never failed to remember treats, book orders, and 99% of all our
school functions were attended. She helped with the raffle
fundraising for Petersburg girls softball and boys baseball for
several years. She always donates everything we can't use. She was
room mother at school several years and one year two rooms. She
rarely ever asks for anything. She took care of our grandma for 11
years as a caregiver of a cancer patient and the last three years of
Grandma's life she was the sole provider of care for her and worked a
job as well. Our mom is very dedicated, loving, and loyal mom,
grandma, sister, daughter, wife, aunt, and friend."
Mary Ann Woerner of
Pekin (Not on cooperative lines)
Nominated by her
daughter, Leanne Waremburg
"Mary Ann Woerner,
“Mom”, deserves to be Illinois Country Mother of the Year because
of her caring, loving, and giving spirit. With seven children (four
of her own and three step-children), eleven grandkids, and one great
grand son, Mom is always doing something for one of us and always
with a willing heart.
Mom has been active in
church all her life. She teaches Sunday School, plays the organ,
directs the choir, plays in the hand-bell choir, has served on many
different ministry teams, and coordinates our funeral meals ministry.
Divorced when I was six
years old, Mom sometimes worked two part-time jobs in addition to her
full-time job to make ends meet. Then 19 years ago, after being
single for about 25 years, she remarried and couldn’t be happier.
After retiring a couple years later, Mom started her “dream
business,” Merry Bee Farm and Greenhouse. With Fred, “Dad”
right beside her, they have 3 greenhouses and a very large garden.
Mom grows numerous varieties of perennials and annuals and starts a
lot of the veggie plants for the garden. Living in Pekin, IL, the
Marigold Capital of the World, she has grown marigolds and many other
flowers for the Marigold Festival flower beds and the Pekin Park
I can’t remember a
year when Mom didn’t have a garden. She always encouraged us to be
in the garden with her and I’m sure there were times when we
weren’t always the “help” she hoped for. Sometimes playing in
the dirt or walking barefoot in the freshly tilled soil was more fun
than the actual planting. But Mom never seemed to mind when we left
the garden covered from head to toe in dirt. I think she was happy
we were in the garden with her. She also taught us helpful gardening
hints and I’m sure her love for gardening is where mine came from.
With over an acre of
garden (some years it’s been closer to two acres), Mom helped
organize Farmers Markets in Tremont, IL and Pekin to be able to sell
extra produce. Mom and Dad pride themselves in the fact that their
fruits and veggies are grown chemical-free. That’s probably why at
age 76 and 79 they are in such great shape and have so much energy.
None of us kids ever want for fresh veggies all summer and the
grandkids know that they can earn some money by helping in the
greenhouse and garden anytime. After canning and freezing what they
need to get them through until the next summer, if there is an over
abundance of veggies, Mom often donates them to one of the local
missions or gives them away at church.
After all this, Mom
still makes time to attend concerts, ball games, plays and musicals
that any of us and the grandkids is involved in. You won’t find a
mom more loving, caring, giving, and hard-working than mine. That’s
why she deserves to be Illinois Country Mother of the Year."
Jessica Favier of
Southeastern Illinois Electric Cooperative
Nominated by her
husband, Jeffery Clerk
"My wife deserves to win
this honor because she is the most loving, selfless person that I
have ever met. She is a 46 year old mom of two boys, one is 20 years
old and the other is 12 years old and still lives at home. I am
permanently disabled and do not/cannot work. In order to try and
improve our finances and quality of life, my wife decided to go back
to college full time to become a nurse; on top of already working a
full time job and all of the other things that she does. I am proud
to say that she will be an LPN by the end of summer 2009 when she
graduates. She has managed to get straight A's at college. Phi Theta
Kappa sorority invited her to be an honorary member of their sorority
because of her excellent grades. So she is now also in that. My wife
does volunteer fundraising for the sorority. She also does volunteer
fundraising for her 12 year old son's school.
My wife has kept our
son in Boy Scouts through the years. Together, she and our son,
through scouting; collect food for the hungry every year, help clean
up the Wren lake area every year and do numerous other volunteer
projects throughout the year. My wife has also taught our son to help
the needy by volunteering to help at the homeless shelter in
preparing/serving meals to the homeless. She has helped some of the
needier families in our neighborhood by giving clothing/shoes to
their families. My wife takes our son to church every Sunday and she
voluntarily cleans the church on a regular basis. Plus, she offers to
help some of the elderly folks with their chores/shopping.
On top of everything
that she already does; work, school, church, volunteer work, homework
with our son, his grade school functions, quality time with our son
an me, and our son's healthcare needs; she somehow finds time to keep
our home clean, run all of the errands of everyday life (shopping,
gas for cars, groceries, etc.), prepare most of our meals, pay bills
and be a loving wife and mother. She even looks good all of the time.
I do not know how she
finds the energy to do all of these things, but she does. She always
has a smile and a hug for our son and me. I know that she doesn't
sleep very much or have any time to herself, but she is always in a
good mood. I tend to be a pessimist and see the glass half-empty
while she is the optimist and sees the glass half-full. She just
never lets anything get her down. I think her faith in God carries
her through when a normal person would just give up and quit.
Our son(s) and myself
do not get to see her as much as we would like to. That will get
better though after she graduates and gets her LPN and Associate
Degree in Science. Though I figure she will still stay very active
because she always has been high energy.
My wife is a super-mom
and a super-wife. She is our very own Super-woman in real life. I and
my sons are very proud of her. She has already earned our title of
Illinois Country Mother of the Year.
Thanks for your
consideration of our Super-Hero."
Thala Jean Stewart
of Menard Country Cooperative
Nominated by her
daughter-in-law, Mary Stewart
"I am sending you a
story today about Thala Jean Stewart. She was named after her Father,
Thales. Her friends only know her as Jean. Jean lives in Petersburg,
Illinois on a farm which is closer to Atterberry, Illinois. Not many
people, even in Illinois know where this little town is without
looking it up on a map.
Her family knows her as
Mom and Grandma. I met this lady in 1984. I married her son a year
and a half later. Jean made sure her son met me by leaving my number
in his checkbook or on the visor of his car. After many months, he
called me and we went out and now three kids later and two grandkids
ourselves the rest is history. Had I not met this lady and her
husband twenty five years ago my life would have been a lot
different. I am happy to call my mother in law—MOM.
Jean is a very giving
person. She loves to give and help others, but does not like to admit
others would like to do the same for her. She likes no fuss, so if
she does win this award, she will not think she should have—someone
else is more deserving in her eyes. Jean is retired but you would
never know it. When she went back to work after her kids were in
school, she started in the local Nursing Home as an activity
director. Later she moved to Menard County Senior Services until she
retired a few years ago. Now she volunteers at the Menard County
Food Pantry, the Petersburg Elementary School, the Petersburg
Library, and New Salem. She serves on the boards of Menard County
Housing Authority and Sunny Acres Nursing Home. She is an election
judge and last but not least she helps many local people attend a
needed appointment by driving them when they are not able.
Jean is the type of
person who everyone knows and who is well respected in our community.
She has been married to her husband, Jack, for over fifty years. She
has been blessed with three children of her own, eight grandchildren
and three great- grandchildren. She can make the best roast I have
ever eaten and to top it off an even better coconut cream pie—FROM
SCRATCH. Jean is happiest when family is around.
For all she does for
others this part will sum up her view on life perfectly:
Last summer when she
and Jack celebrated their 50th anniversary, Jean and Jack only wanted
family to celebrate their happy day. We did and we smiled, and
laughed and every child and grandchild took part in this special day.
We also celebrated with them and returned as a family to the place
they went for their honeymoon—Wisconsin Dells. What a week we all
So I hope you see in
this small picture I have painted of this lady what a wonderful
person she is to many people."
Erma D. Walker-Price
of Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative
Nominated by her
daughter, Tiffany Price-Saunders
"My nominee for mother
of the year is my wonderful mother, Ms. Erma D. Walker-Price.
She goes by Erma Price
but she was born Erma Deloris Gloria Jean Walker to Mr. Mose and Ms.
Alice Foyl Walker (Robinson). Then on September 12, 1965 my mom
married her high school sweetheart, Willie C. Price. They were
married 42 years until his death November 20, 2007. Erma was the
third of 14 children. Mom was the one who helped her mom keep
everything together when her dad was away at work. Many hardships
came their way but mom still kept a smile on her face. That smile
raised myself and many others. I have three sisters and a brother
with blood we share but my mom helped raise many more children. My
mom was the best babysitter around. September 21, 2003 my mom had to
deliver my baby at home and I named my daughter Destiny. That was a
great day for all of us. My daughter is 5 years old now and she wants
to be just like her grandma when she grows up. I had a great life
growing up. I have seen children my age not having half of what I
had. Not that my parents want to be better than than everyone else.
It's just that they know what we need to survive and I thank them for
Yes, I had a wonderful
life and I owe it all to my mother for holding it together. My father
was the bread winner and Mom made sure dinner was on the table. Mom
would fix meals big enough to feed an army. She said it's better to
have too much than not enough. Her meals were never wasted. Many
people stopped by to eat and that made Mother happy. She fed all she
knew and she would even take her meals to the church where she
attends. My mom was a missionary, Sunday school teacher, secretary on
the pastor aid committee and a great youth advisor in her local
church in Joliet, Illinois. She also made robes for the choir and
dresses for my wedding as well as others. She makes the best lemon
cakes ever. She moved back to southern Illinois with her husband
Pastor Willie Price after he retired from Caterpillar. She was a good
help mate to her husband and pastor until his death. Now my mom is
the pastor of the church and keeping the vision alive my mom belongs
to the Church of the Living God the Pillar and Ground of the Truth.
My mom is the community
emergency contact at the school for many children. Single working
moms and dads trusted my mom to take care of all school matters when
they couldn't be there. She was at the PTA meetings, violin recitals,
track meets, and Christmas programs, etc. in Joliet and here.
My mom didn't have a 9
to 5 job that she got paid for but she could step foot in any job big
or small and manage any position because she has done it all in her
life. Whatever she did, it was to the best she knew how. She strives
for the best. She says do your best and God will take care of the
My mom grew up on the
farm in Missouri. It wasn't easy but it taught her the value of hard
work. She had suffered through many hard times but she kept a smile
on her face. 2007 was the hardest year for my mom. In March of '07,
her nephew (on her husband's side) was killed in a train crash when
his brakes failed. Another nephew on her side of the family was
killed in a hit and run crash September 4.
Also in September, Mom
and Dad's house burnt down. They lost a lot. October, mom's oldest
grandchild was killed on his 21st birthday. He was in the
US Army, and November 20 my dad passed away after over two weeks in
the hospital. They were workers together in God. He will be missed.
Now to top it off, we
were just informed that my mom has breast cancer and waiting to go
for surgery. So for mother of the year I vote Ms. Erma D.
Walker-Price. Please pray for her.
Sheri Pitts of
Norris Electric Cooperative
Nominated by her
daughter, Brittany Pitts
am nominating my mom for Illinois Country Mother of the Year. She is
a 38 year old mother of 3 daughters, farm wife and full-time
Radiography student, soon to be a grandmother. I am the oldest of
her children; during my senior year in high school I was telling her
I wanted to become a lawyer but didn’t think I could do it. She
was so good at convincing me that I could do whatever I wanted if I
was willing to work hard and really want it; she convinced herself to
go back to school.
has always supported all three of us, no matter what it was we are
striving for – she is always there 100%. I was a cheerleader in
junior high, which means lots of practices and games as well as late
nights for all of the away games. I played softball every summer and
was involved in 4-H for 10 years and FFA for 4 years.
sister, who is now 13 years old raises about any animal you can name
(cows, sheep, goats, horses, chickens, rabbits, dogs and cats).
Naturally she is extremely busy and being only 13 has to be driven
wherever it is she needs to be next. She is now only in one 4-H
group, however for the last 2 years she was in two, she was asked to
help start a horse based 4-H club in our county. She is a member of
the local Sheriff’s Mounted Posse, and managed to be named the 2008
Cowgirl of the Year by riding her horse for over 250 hours last year.
This year her goal is for her and my dad to ride from Missouri to
Indiana on horseback.
youngest sister is 6 years old and we all know how much of a handful
a 6 year old can be. I am currently in college and have told my mom
on numerous occasions that I really admire her, I don’t know how
she can do it – jungle and manage being a farm wife, mother and
full-time student and still be there for all of us.
think our mom should win this prestigious title to show her we are
all so very proud of her and that we are there for her just like she
is for us. It would be a good start to show her just how proud we
really are of her!"
Farris of EnerStar Electric Cooperative
by her Daughter, Vonnie Davis
mother is Dorothy Farris from Kansas, Illinois and she deserves the
title of “Mother of the Year” because of her selfless acts of
giving of her time and herself to help anyone that needs help. Her
whole life has been spent care giving and helping others without a
thought of herself.
up I was fortunate enough to have a stay at home mom who was always
home when we got home from school to see that we were fed and helped
us with homework if we needed it. We lived on a grain and livestock
farm and my father worked a full-time off-farm job too, so she helped
him with the livestock while he was at work and she helped in the
fields during planting and harvest.
my aunt (my mother’s sister) opened a restaurant, my mother worked
for her on the weekends for free to help her business get off the
ground. That wasn’t for just a few months, it was for nine years.
It was an opportunity for my mother to get out of the house and
socialize, but her focus was helping her sister’s business to be
father passed away a year ago after battling cancer for two years.
During that time, she took him to all of his treatments and doctor’s
appointments while trying to look after my grandmother (her mother)
who is now 92 year old and she was working weekends at the
restaurant. During my father’s illness, the more the cancer
developed, the weaker he became, the more she had to do for him. No
matter what the task at hand, she did it without grumbling because
she felt it was her job. I was very concerned about whether she could
withstand all of the pressure that she was under. Her concern was
about seeing that everyone was taken care of and that their needs
were being met and not about how it was affecting her or her health.
She felt they needed her and she couldn’t let them down.
has now retired from the restaurant but spends the majority of her
time looking after my grandmother. She and her siblings don’t want
to put Grandma in the nursing home and the doctor says that she needs
24 hour care. So they are working together to see that Grandma has 24
is a very strong Christian woman who feels that God put her here to
help others. She likes to see that people are healthy and happy and
have all of their needs met, and she will give of her time and
resources to see that is accomplished.
am very proud that Dorothy is my mother. She is loved and respected
by all those who know her best – those people whose lives she has
touched. She is not only my mother, but my best friend and I thank
God for blessing me with her."
Shamp of Jo-Carroll Energy
by her daughter Katie Shamp
a world where times are hard and family is everything, there needs to
be one person to be the so called “family glue.” My mother,
Sandra Lynn Shamp is that person. Over my 22 years of existence, I
have been able to count on my mom for anything and everything. In my
first year of college, I was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor. It was
benign, but its presence still required treatment which included
several trips to the hospital for MRI's, blood work, and numerous
doctor visits. Even though I have been in the treatment phase for
many ears, there is no end to this in the near future. However, my
mom was there in the beginning, giving me love and much needed
support, and I know she'll be there in the end, again providing love
and sharing tears of relief. My tumor is not the only medical problem
that required my mother's love and support. Last winter I had to have
two separate surgeries for kidney stones, and had to make what seemed
like a million doctor appointments. However, no matter how busy my
mother was, she took me to every appointment.
mom has always been very family oriented. Recently she and I traveled
to nearby cemeteries to take pictures of gravestones which mark the
resting places of long lost family members which she has discovered
while doing our family's genealogy. My mom lost her own mother many
years ago, and we lost her father to cancer a little over a year ago.
Through both deaths, my mother did her best to stay strong for the
rest of the family. She grew up in Clinton, Iowa, and is one of nine
children. Having fond memories of the river town, she frequently
loaded my siblings and me into her car, and we would take day trips.
On our trips we did many things, including going to see the animals
at Eagle Point Park (which are no longer there, unfortunately), visit
our grandparents, get cookies and other treats at the Sweetheart
Bakery, or go swimming at Clinton's public pool. She still likes to
grab lunch and go sit at the dike to watch the river where she may
see the occasional barge passing through. One value that has become a
part of me and my siblings' lives is the love and appreciation of
nature: a value she holds dear.
we were young, my parents decided to divorce. My mother had no
college education, and so she now had to look for alternative ways to
start a new life on her own. Over the years she has been a daycare
provider, Home Interiors representative, Brite Music representative,
she has helped with the physically and mentally challenged, been a
grocery clerk, and a factory's assembly line worker. Often she held
two jobs simultaneously, and she always did so without complaint
because she wanted to make sure we had the extras and luxuries that
every other child had. At the time, we took our day trips for
granted, along with going out to eat at McDonald's trips, and having
our individual pets. Through the tough times, Mom has always managed
to be optimistic, and she found that she had a knack for writing. She
is a published poet and has thoroughly enjoyed being part of a
writer's group in past years. My mother has shown us the meaning of
graciousness and selflessness over the years, and we all thank her
mother has always been known as the funny and sweet mom to all of our
friends. While planning road trips to Indiana with my pal LaRae, Mom
always insisted that we use her vehicle, which is safer and more
trustworthy, even though it inconvenienced her. One summer years ago,
I was feeling particularly lonely as I was not on speaking terms with
two of my closest friends. Without m knowledge, Mom called both of
them and surprised me with a visit with the two of them with her. My
friends and I spent all night being kids and having fun, and spent
the night rekindling our friendship. I have never forgotten how loved
I felt at that moment by my mother.
time, Mom has taught us unconditional love and friendship. Through
family tragedies and being laid off, she has kept her spirits up. The
word “me” is never on my mother's tongue. Instead, she is always
thinking about what she can do for others, regardless if it takes
away from her personal time. She is an amazing woman and I can only
hope when I have children I can show them the amount of love my
mother has shown us."
Ladage of Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative
by her daughter-in-law, Cindy Ladage
readers of Illinois Country Living probably recognize Henrietta
Ladage’s voice because for years she was at the end of the line
when they called to let a volunteer know that their electricity was
out. Callers were always relieved to reach such a caring person on
the other end because she met their needs with friendliness and
concern and always has treated everyone friend or stranger with
consideration. In fact, Henrietta is probably hands down, the
sweetest woman I know. Growing up on a farm outside of Virden,
Illinois Henrietta has lived her life mostly in the country and
enjoys the beauty that nature has to offer and the privacy of country
I met Henrietta twenty-nine years ago, my only concern was that she
would like me because I was marrying her son. Little did I know what
a wonderful woman she is and how lucky I was to a have mother-in-law
like her. I will hear women complaining about how their
mother-in-laws interfere and tell them how to run their lives, how to
handle their children and husbands, I never remember a cross word
from Henrietta or advice not solicited in almost thirty years.
Although she is not my mother, I love her like one. Henrietta has
five children and with in-laws and grandchildren and now a new great-
grand daughter, her house runneth over!
Saturday mornings, one can find an array of the Ladage clan darkening
her door. She usually has cinnamon rolls, cookies or some other
treat to make the visitor linger a bit longer than they planned. No
one ever turns down food offerings from Henrietta. I recall once
when my daughter Carrie was young and I was traveling. My husband
Keith offered to take her and my son Jason and daughter Allie out to
eat anywhere they wanted. Carrie replied, “I want to go to
Grandma’s and eat her fried chicken.”
are no great heroic stories to tell, only the tale of a woman filled
with great love for her family who is always there to listen without
judgment to the outpourings of her kin. With quiet dignity Henrietta
shares her strong Christian faith and instills God’s love through
her actions. Many women probably qualify to be the Country Mother of
the Year, but in my eyes, the only true candidate is Henrietta
Fesler of Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative
by her son-in-law, Robert J. Legate
Fesler is the name that I would like to submit for Illinois Country
Mother of the Year. Jonie would never want this attention brought to
her. Her humbleness remains because of her constant attention to
others. She never puts herself before anyone. Her unrelenting
commitment to others can be seen far beyond the six children that she
and her husband, John, have raised on their family farm in Barry,
her marriage of over 50 years stands as a test of time and
commitment, her most recognizable quality is her giving attitude and
spirit. Her extraordinary capabilities can be seen, whether she is
baking for charities and local fund raisers, providing gifts and free
seamstress services, working her garden only to give her produce
away, taking time to play games with the younger generation, caring
for ailing livestock, or simply encouraging others. I must include
that her vita also includes driving tractors, grain trucks, feeding
livestock and other farm chores.
remains steadfast that everyone eats healthy and has plenty to eat,
but don’t forget you must have a least one piece of her homemade
pie or cake that is always available. Extended family and friends
feel welcome and comfortable in the Fesler home. Whether it is
birthday celebrations, famous Easter Egg Hunts, Christmas Productions
or simply making treats to send to family out of the area, every
detail is critical so that each person has fun and feels
I am challenged to get all the details in this essay, I should add
that Jonie has her entire life chronicled and archived in hand
written hard bound diaries that she has maintained since she was a
little girl. I write this essay probably more on behalf of my sister
in law, Annie. Annie, age 48, is the second eldest child and most
exceptional. The reality about Annie is that she is mentally
challenged with the mentality of a three year old. While the
qualities I have shared are noteworthy, I feel that the unequivocal
love, devotion, commitment and support that “Mommy” according to
Annie, has given to her is beyond measure. The true measure of this
lady’s success can be seen in the smile and level of comfort that
Annie has enjoyed. Given Jonie’s seemingly unending energy, Annie
has been involved with all family activities including the energy
required for her to attend sporting events for family members, simply
going shopping or helping with household chores. So, I share this
narrative on behalf of Annie and the many people who have been
touched by the sharing that Jonie Fesler has given to all. She and
her husband have been long standing members of the Rural Electric
Cooperative which would be properly represented by Jonie. Thank you
for your consideration."
Inboden of Norris Electric Cooperative
by her daughter, Kaiva Riley
think my mother should be nominated for Illinois Country Mother of
the Year because she is truly a country woman plus good mother. We
have always lived in the country all through my childhood years. I am
now 48 years old. There were 5 of us children and my mother stayed
home and took care of all of us throughout our childhood.
raised chickens every summer to eat during the winter months. Dad
would purchase 50 chicks, feed them, then he would start butchering
when they were ready, 5 of them a day. Mom would do the cleaning and
cutting up of them and us kids would help clean the pin feathers off
would also help Dad put out a big garden and then do all the canning
and freezing of the vegetables, tomato juice, frozen corn, green
beans, and dill pickles. Lots of dill pickles. Back then dill pickles
were a favorite snack for us kids and some of our cousins. We could
eat 2 or 3 quart jars at a time.
was always lots of laundry to be done with 5 kids. I know she had
some to do every day. I really don't remember helping with laundry
but I do remember helping clean the house. Helping my mother with
chores when I was young, helped me to be the person I am today when
it comes to housework. I like a clean house and I even kind of like
always butchered our own pork and beef. Dad did all the outside work
of butchering but Mom was responsible for the inside work. Sorting
the different cuts, stuffing the sausage, wrapping, marking and of
course the clean up. It was always a fun day for us kids on
butchering day. We would do 3 or 4 hoop on that day, and a lot of our
family, uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents would come help too.
mother still lives in the country of course. She will be 66 years
young on March 26. My dad passed away on November 16, 2006 of cancer.
My mom took care of Dad all through his cancer plus took care of the
yard, house, and anything else that came up. My dad was able to stay
at home throughout his battle with cancer and died at home because of
mother mows about 1.5 acres of yard, helps with our local Relay for
Life, feeds her birds all winter, and summer also, cuts all her 4
sons-in-law hair and grandson's hair too. Once in a while she will
clip a dog or two's hair also for someone.
always attended church and so does most of her family. We fill up 3
pews at church when we are all there which is usually every Sunday.
mother has always been there for us and would do anything she
possibly could if we needed her to. I wouldn't trade her for any
other mother in the world. She means the whole world to all of us."
Sterchi of Norris Electric Cooperative
by her son, Sam Sterchi
thousand seven hundred thirty eight days. As of May first, this is
the amount of time Deb Sterchi has been a mother. Boy, I have sure
put her through a lot in that amount of time. My mom has had many
ups and downs in the past 24 years, but I am sure she has no regrets
and wouldn’t want her life any other way.
of Deb Sterchi’s motherhood has been spent at the old Sterchi
farmhouse, known locally as the house of seven gables, located eight
miles northeast of Olney, Illinois. During this time she has worn
many hats from being a farmer’s wife to school teacher to
beautician, it seems like she has done everything. With all these
different hats to wear, she was still grounded with the same set of
shoes; the motherhood shoes.
I am almost 24 years old, Mom still treats me like a child, and I’ve
accepted the fact that she always will. She will still call to
remind me of appointments, make sure I have found my way on a trip
(though I never get lost), and always tells me to watch for deer.
person is unique and every mom is unique. I know I could write a
book on my mother, but have decided just to entertain with some of my
most memorable times with her.
on a farm will produce good stories by itself. There was always
something unusual happening. One evening when I was young, we pulled
into our driveway and Mom noticed some commotion in the hog pen.
Before I could unbuckle, she had the Oldsmobile flying down the field
like we were in the Baja 1000. Wild dogs had jumped the fence and
were after our hogs. Well, these dogs hadn’t planned on meeting
Mama Sterchi. She sprung out of the car and chased these oversized
coyotes back to the woods, hollering and swinging her purse the whole
many of you know, it seems like there are always some sort of insect
plague on a farm each year. When I was younger, I remember having an
over population of ants, houseflies, grasshoppers, and horseflies all
in different years. Nothing tested my mother’s patience like the
year the ladybugs came. I believe these nuisances were actually
Asian beetles, but they looked similar to the ladybug so that’s
what we called them. Every evening when Mom would come home from
working in town, we would have a collection of several hundred of
these bugs. After several days of sweeping, swatting, and squashing,
we found the best way to debug was by the vacuum cleaner. At the
time it wasn’t funny, but I think about it now and remember my mom
all stretched out with the vacuum hose trying to reach the bugs at
the top of the windows, I just have to laugh.
the strangest incident my mom has had on the farm occurred in the wee
hours of the morning. Dad was working the night shift at the dairy
in Olney. Mom went to the kitchen for a drink. Much to her
surprise, she found a snake sprawled out across the floor. Instinct
allowed her to grab a boot rack from the porch and whack the slithery
out of the creature before it could escape. Next morning as I came
down the stairs, I saw the dead trespasser belly up in the floor with
the boot rack on top. She threatened to move to town if that ever
happened again. We tease her, but hope it never does happen again.
all of her duties, jobs, and volunteer work, my mom has done a great
job in raising her children. She doesn’t get the recognition she
deserves, but she doesn’t mind. She might be the typical country
mom, but I think she deserves praise and thanks for it. She might
come home to a room full of ladybugs, a table piled high with garden
produce, or some other bizarre creature on the loose, she still
enjoys living in the country. She enjoys it so much that she wants
grandchildren to live the memories over again with. I wonder if they
make grandmother-hood shoes?"
Krebel of Egyptian Electric Cooperative
by her daughter, Cathy Krebel-Nevois
mother, LaVerne Krebel, deserves to win the title "Illinois
Country Mother of the Year" for more reasons than I can write in
500 words. She is the epitome of a country mom. She works
tirelessly not only for her family, but for her church, community and
nature. I like to think of her as a combination of Betty Crocker and
Martha Stewart (without the jail time!) with a little bit of Mother
Theresa. After spending years cooking, cleaning, sewing and keeping
a warm home and garden for me, my sister and my dad, she now spends
her retirement doing much of the same simply because she enjoys it.
mother is the best all around chef. All of her food is made from
scratch. We actually make fun of her a little bit because she makes
her own pancake syrup! She makes a chocolate layer cake to die for,
coffee cake that makes my mouth water just writing about it, lasagna
so thick you can barely lift the pan, cobbler that I have actually
seen people fight over, and she has even made chocolate truffles.
Not only does she cook, but she also cans most of the fruits and
vegetables that she grows. To name a few, she cans tomatoes, green
beans, salsa, jellies, jams, applesauce, apple butter and baby dill
pickles that certain family members now call "Bernie's famous
pickles". And let's not forget the home made dandelion wine and
kahlua that she is also known to brew. I know a lot of people love to
cook, but this woman simply loves to feed her family. She has a
special way of always cooking everyone's favorites when they come to
visit. Who else would make chocolate layer cake and chocolate
truffles when they don't even like chocolate? Who else would make
applesauce for her grandson with special labels for "Nate's
applesauce" (his favorite)?
you ever visit my mom's home and garden in the summer time, you would
understand why I compare her to Martha Stewart. Imagine a huge
garden and yard filled with wonderful fruits and vegetables, cherry
trees, an apple tree, blackberries, pumpkins and more. Her garden and
home is surrounded by more beautiful flowers and plants than I care
to count. In fact, she has so many that when my husband and I built
our home, we got most of our flowers and plants from her garden
because it was so abundant. Her home in the summer is filled with
the aromas of freshly baked cobblers and pies with fresh flowers from
her garden on her table.
have often suggested to my mom that she open up a little shop and
sell all of her wonderful fruits, vegetable, baked goods and flowers.
She always tells me "But then it wouldn't be fun anymore."
Of course she usually has an excess of all of the wonderful things
that she grows and bakes. She just gives them away to family and
friends, never asking for anything in return. So when I saw the
advertisement to nominate a country mother of the year, I figured it
was about time that I gave my mom the recognition that she deserves.
She is, quite simply, the best!"
Raines of Egyptian Electric Cooperative
by her daughter, Stephanie Myers
my mother deserves to be nominated?
mother (Carol Raines) is the greatest person in the world. This woman
is not only my idol but my best friend was well. She is someone that
would lend a helping hand to anyone in need. I have always looked up
to my mom since I was a little girl, and she has made me what I am
today. My mom has guided me to pursue my dreams and has always told
me to never give up. I remember telling my mom that I could not do
something, her response would be “Of course you can, you can do
anything you put your mind to.” And guess what, I did it. Of
course, she would be there to guide me through my problems or turmoil
in my life. My mom would never push me to do anything I didn't want
to do. She knew that she raised me right and that I would do the
mother and I do a lot of fun things together that usually friends do
together, but like I said, my mother is my best friend. For instance,
we go shopping, deer hunting, ride our horses and motorcycles around
and have a blast. So this is just a couple reasons Carol Raines
should be nominated for Illinois Country Mother of the Year. Everyone
that knows her would tell you the same. She is a very special lady to
me. I wouldn't know what to do without her! Love you, Mom."
Kiper of Corn Belt Energy Corporation
by her daughter, Kimberly Kiper
would like to nominate my mother Cathy Kiper for mother of the year.
My mom raised my brother and I in a single family home she always put
us first and her needs last. She in her life has also cared for my
grandmother which passed away 3 years ago this April. My grandmother
was a renal dialysis patient and again my mother put her life on the
back burner to care for our grandmother and made sure she made every
dialysis treatment which was 3 times a week. My mother Cathy now
resides at Phoenix Towers and is very active with Church as well. She
is president of the council at Phoenix towers and has had several
fund raisers to make money for activities and prizes for the
residents whom reside there. My mother always has a smile on her face
but what people don't understand is my mother has numerous medical
issues to many to name. She has given so much to others and not
enough to herself. I feel she is most deserving of this honor. I just
want her to know how much everyone in the community appreciates
everything she has done and given in mine and others lives. With my
mothers wonderful smile and caring heart she will always be my Mother
of the Year!!!! Please consider my mom for this honor."
Woltering of Madison County (Not on cooperative lines)
by her great aunt, Margaret Kruep
great niece, Beth, now 45 years of age is the mother of 2 sons, whose
husband left her while the boys were very small. Beth was lucky to
find a job with UPS. Hard work, long hours, but good pay. She bought
a home in Highland, Illinois. It's closer to her job.
one son decided he'd try it on his own after turning 18 and got a
girl pregnant. She had nowhere to go so Beth took her and her son in
and even gave a shower for the soon to be delivered girl, Beth's
granddaughter. Beth's son lost his job and the girl left with the
baby and left to another state with another Beth and her parents and
all felt so bad. Beth lost her job with UPS after much shoulder pain
and surgeries to help her. UPS made a settlement, but she's only 45
and has many medical bills and is also helping her son. Her youngest
son does odd jobs to go to college. He tries to help his mom with all
the home payments, taxes, INS, and all of the utilities. Beth has to
use her settlement money to survive. She does any odd job she can
find and not lift more than five pounds, but with the economy as it
is, she will try to get disability as her money will be used up if
she can't find work.
never complains but like all mothers, she says they are her boys so
she keeps them even though they are of age now.
has no idea that I'm writing but my heart goes out to her and her
wonderful parents and family.
be a happy great-aunt (and mother) to see Beth get the prize she
deserves. She always says “I count my blessings.”"
Dawes of Egyptian Electric Cooperative
by her daughter, Tami Wollard
know that everyone feels like their Mother is the most special Mother
of all, and I am no exception. My mother, Dorothy Dawes, practically
raised 5 children by herself, as my Father was gone working out of
town, coming home on the weekends. She learned how to make clothes
for all her children, as money was tight at times. Later, she taught
herself how to re-upholster furniture and was very successful at it.
She opened her own business in Goreville, and had many friends in our
little town. If anyone ever needed work done on furniture, car seats,
airplane seats or just some worn coveralls sewn up, Mom did it and
took pride in her work and charged a very fair price where others
charged high prices for the same service.
always put her children and grandchildren first. If she found out
(and she seems to always find these things out) that one of her kids
didn't have groceries or one of the grand-kids needed a coat or
shoes, whatever was needed, would mysteriously appear at the needy
6 years ago, Mom was diagnosed with kidney cancer. The "Doctors"
gave her 6 months to live, but Mom and God had other plans. She faced
it head-on, going through kidney surgery then through several
different types of chemo. I never saw her cry for herself. She told
my siblings and I that "It is harder on you kids than me."
She kept fighting the battle as we watched her little body, get
thinner and thinner. Because of the weaken state of her immune
system, she had so many illness's to fight along with the cancer.
During these times, all her children and grandchildren were with her
through the many hospital stays. The nurses said she was a joy to
take care of. She had a wonderful sense of humor and wanted everyone
to be happy. Mom never used her nurse call button, as she didn't want
to be a bother. She showed her children and grandchildren, strength
and grace as she was slowly slipping away from us. On her final day
on Earth, she was surrounded by all her children, grandchildren,
brother and sisters and several nieces and nephews. We sat around her
bed singing Christian Hymns to her as she went to be with Jesus on
the morning of July 31, 2009. Since our dear sweet Mother went to
Heaven, her legacy of the love she passed on to her children thrives.
We are a very close loving family because of Mom and I know she is
looking down from her Heavenly home and smiling.
name is Dorothy Dawes and she and I both live in Goreville and served
by an electrical co-op. If my essay should win, I would live to
donate the winnings to Hospice, who took wonderful care of my
Demry of Corn Belt Energy Corporation
by her daughter, Jennifer Stroyan
There is no better word to describe my extraordinary mother, Valerie
Demry. For as long as I can remember my mother has always put her
children first (three biological and numerous childhood friends in
need of a temporary meal, home, advice, or listener). Whether it was
braces, clothing, a replacement pair of eyeglasses, or our college
educations - she made it clear from day one that we were the most
important piece of her life. Now that we are all grown and raising
our own families, she continues to amaze me with her selflessness. On
a moment's notice, my mother drops whatever she has planned to take
care of a sick grandchild, help re- organize an already organized
kitchen because her pregnant daughter feels it's necessary, drive an
elderly aunt for her daily cup of coffee, or simply listen as I vent
about my latest struggles. She has never asked for anything in
return. My only hope is that I may one day be half the mother to my
children as she has been to her own children."
Spenny of Spoon River Electric Cooperative
by her daughter, Danielle Prohaska
mother's name is Darcey Spenny. She is an amazing woman in so many
ways. Darcey has three children, Damon, Danielle, and Devon. She has
been married for 40 years. She also is the very proud grandmother of
three boys. She has been working at our local Grain Elevator for 33
years. She does so much in our community. She is involved with so
many different projects that goes on. She takes care of the
Elevators, local Church, School, and Fire Departments financial
books, and volunteers her time when they have special events. Her
most outstanding volunteering achievement is the work she does with
the 182nd Airlift Wing, Family Readiness Group with the United States
Air force. After my sister joined, our mother started volunteering
with the Family Readiness Group. We are so proud of the work she
does. She has helped so many people by opening her home when they
need a place to stay for a couple of days, or for the summer. We now
think of the people that come to stay with her part of our family.
And they always seem to come back and visit just for her amazing
dinners. When my sister's husband leaves for deployment she makes
everyone on the flight line breakfast, and also makes bags upon bags
of caramel corn. They all seem to know who the caramel lady is.
have such a wonderful, open hearted, helping family because of our
mother. I know that between my brother and my sister, that we have
learned to be better people because of having a mother like Darcey."