2015 Mother of the Year letters

Mary Higgs

Nominated by Mary Ann Spesard her Daughter

Mary Higgs is from Norris Electric Cooperative

Entry published in article.

Antonia Y Slaybaugh

Nominated by David Slaybaugh her Husband

Antonia Y Slaybaugh is from Menard Electric Cooperative

Antonia was born and raised in the little town of New York City, so she is not really a “Country Mother”. However she has lived in central Illinois for the past 35 plus years, and is a loving mother and Christian care giver to her family and all acquainted with her. She raised 4 great children by herself, 2 boys now living in the Denver area, one is a computer consultant and the youngest a Nurse Practitioner, a daughter in Indianapolis area that is a Veterinarian, a daughter in Charlotte that was a Nestles company account executive, and now a stay at home mom. The two sons have 5 children between them and the daughters both have two boys each and a girl each and both have one on the way.

Antonia is very close to all her children and travels extensively to be with her children, especially when babies are born. When her youngest son had Twins she travelled to the Los Angeles area where they were living at the time to assist, then want back for the twins first birthday and assist her youngest daughter who was in LA at that time with her first baby boy. Then to help the oldest daughter when her first baby boy was born in Indiana. She also never has missed a first birthday so once again she traveled back to LA for that and to Indiana. About 12 months later she repeated the same trip once again, this time babysitting 2 year old Twins for 2 weeks when their parents went on a 2 week cruise and assisting her LA daughter with her baby girl then to Indiana to assist her Indiana daughter with her baby girl.

The next round of babies found her youngest daughter in Tampa Florida for the birth of her second boy and of course Antonia was there for about a month then back to Indiana for her oldest daughter’s second boy birth.

I am not sure how her daughters do it, but both had baby boys within 6 weeks of each other, then both had baby girls within 6 weeks of each other, then both had boys within 6 weeks of each other and now both are expecting once again within 6 weeks of each other. So she is planning to be in Charlotte where her youngest daughter is now for that birth and then to Indiana a few weeks later.

Antonia is a Registered Nurse and always on call for her children, ready to give advice on care of her Grand Children, answer any questions, or depart at the drop of a hint that help is needed.

Antonia sets up a college saving plan when each baby is born to insure then a good education and loves then all dearly. Counting my Granddaughter she stands at 12 Grandchildren with 2 more on the way. Now she tells me she wants to take all on a Disney Cruise, I can hardly wait, I am getting old.

Beverly Hampton

Nominated by Angela Hampton her Daughter-in-Law

Beverly Hampton is from Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative

My nominee for Mother of the Year isn’t my mother. As a matter of fact, when I first met her I didn’t know if we would ever be close. Today, almost 12 years later, my 79-year-old Mother-in-Law Beverly Hampton is my best friend.
Widowed while she was six months pregnant with her first child, my mother-in-law didn’t hide and give up on life. She accepted God’s plan and began raising her son with the help of family. After a few years, she met her husband and they had three more sons together. She never graduated high school, never even had a job. Her life’s goal was to be the most devoted wife and mother her husband and four boys could hope for. She never complained about the lean years when her husband was gone all week working the railroad leaving her without even a car of her own to get around town. All she needed was her family. After 52 years on the railroad, her husband finally retired. On their first post-retirement vacation to the beach he had a heart attack and died.
Twelve years ago I married Beverly’s youngest son- her son who had carried her through the first years of widowhood. I stole her baby. It was a tough transition. . until her baby had a baby. Suddenly, I was given a first-hand perspective of the pure love and complete dedication that Beverly has for her family. When my baby cried, she showed me how to hold her. She taught me to slow down and appreciate that life is short and all things are temporary. When I had to go back to work, she comforted me by helping to take care of my babies. When we faced lean times, she cooked for us. When we weathered stormy times in our marriage, she loved both of us through it. She never judges and never stops loving.
On August 28th, 2013 at age 34, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. With three little girls and a husband, I didn’t know how I would manage to fight this disease and still take care of my family. I didn’t have to worry. Grandma was there. She cried with us when we cried. She held my babies when I couldn’t. She cooked and cleaned and I never even had to ask. She was a constant source of help, love and comfort.
I cannot fathom the heartbreak and sorrow Beverly has endured, yet she continues to be a model of strength, selflessness and joy without ever asking for recognition or praise. She may not be my mother, but I can tell you that there is no better mother on earth. She has shown me how to be the kind of mother I want to be- the kind of mother SHE is- and my life would not be complete without her. I hope you will honor her with the award of Mother of the Year- because she truly IS!

Edith Webb

Nominated by Lisa Webb her Daughter #3

Edith Webb is from SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative, Inc.

My mom’s name is Edith Maye Webb, and I am her third daughter, Lisa Maye Webb. I was fortunate enough to be given her middle name and we share the same birthday.
My mom has always been a stay-at-home mom, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t have to work hard.
Sixty-three years ago, my mom married Kenneth Webb. My dad was a teacher and a farmer. They sold apples and peaches for numerous years. They also raised cattle, hay and tended a garden.
When my dad was teaching, it was my mother’s job to sell fruit, man the phone orders, cook, clean, do laundry and take care of four children. I guess you could say she was a clerk, administrative assistant, chef, housekeeper, gardener and child giver all rolled up into one.
I’ve learned through the years that stay-at-home moms have never been given the recognition that they deserve.
My mother was not a college graduate, but I can tell you that education was a high priority at our house. She didn’t ask if you were going to college, she wanted to know where you were toing to attend college. Thank goodness her children did not disappoint. She raised a school principal, nurse, teacher and a prison guard.
While growing up, it was my mom who taught us to be responsible. Every Saturday, rain or shine, the daughters were expected to clean house, and mom was working right alongside us. We also spent many Saturdays in the summer and fall, packing apples with all of our extended family. Those are some really fond memories. Even though we were working, there was a lot of talking and laughter going on in our packing shed.
I don’t want it to sound as if we were a family who worked hard, but didn’t have any fun. That certainly was not the case. Every year in august, before the school year was off and running, our family took a week off for vacation. I know that dad wanted to have some down time with his family, but it was mom who was the driving force to get us out the door, away from Tunnel Hill, with the dust flying. If there was ever a question of whether we would be able to go or not, that suggestion was squashed before it was realized.
My mom is involved with lots of church activities, especially if it involves cooking or baking. She is best known for her chicken and dumplings and cherry cobbler. Those are two of the favorites with all her children and grandchildren, too.
I am so proud of my mom. She may not win Mother of the Year of the Illinois Country Living for 2015, but in my heart, she has won Mother of the Year every year since May 4, 1961.
I think my dad would agree that he showed just how smart he is when he married my mom. I Love You Mom!

Janice Reimer

Nominated by Pam Rosa (and Susan Reimer-Sifford, Sandy Wilson, and Trish Harter) her Daughters

Janice Reimer is from Corn Belt Energy Corporation

Can Words Ever Really Describe Our Mom?
By Susan Reimer-Sifford, Sandy Wilson, Pam Rosa, and Trish Harter

Our mother, Janice Reimer, can’t win Illinois Country Living Mother of the Year…NOT because she isn’t truly a Mother of the Year but because she is currently a board member of the Corn Belt Electric Cooperative (and has been since 1982). Even knowing that, we wanted to share FOUR very important words that we know make her our Mother of the Year, not just this year but every year.

Susan, the eldest, used the word “passionate”. She said that Mom cares so deeply for her family, friends, and close acquaintances. She is a born cheerleader and caregiver. Mom is there to cheer/steer each of us on, as well as help pick up the pieces when things don’t go as planned.

Sandy, the second, shared the word “talented”. Boy, oh boy does our Mom have talent! Talents in baking anything, gardening, scrapbooking so many beautiful collections, decorating and sewing everything, and quilting so many comforters so that she can literally wrap each of us up in love. But maybe her best talent is her ability to lead through learning, no matter how challenging the task!

Pam, the third, offered the word “steadfast”. Our mom has laser-like focus for everything she does. One of the phrases that Pam learned to live by from Mom was, “Whatever you do, you do it well!” In a culture of “whatever”, our Mom stands firm in her commitment to faith, family, farming, and fellowship.

Trish, the baby, provided lovingly-involved (we had to hyphenate that one). Our Mom does not know the word “no”. There are no tasks too big or small that Mom will not lend her time, talents, and energy to accomplishing.

Mom is a role model to each of us and truly emulates the phrase, “Bloom where you are planted”. She has lived at the same farm home her whole married life and during that time she has transplanted to each of us a belief that we could and should use the talents that we were given to do good as well. So…with just FOUR words and a “few” strung between, we share the words that we think so often but don’t say enough. Of course we can’t forget the most important words…WE LOVE YOU MOM!

Kimberly Velliquette

Nominated by Kelsey Newell her Daughter

Kimberly Velliquette is from Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative

My Mama, My Best Friend
My mama is the strongest, most inspiring lady that I know. She works extremely hard to provide for her family and for those around her. My family has always been extremely close and when my Nana fell and broke her ankle, my mama stepped up and began to take care of both my Nana and Papa, along with her three children, pets and my step-father. When my step-grandmother passed away last year, she ended up taking in my step-grandfather so that he wouldn’t have to live alone. Both of my grandparents and my step-grandfather suffered strokes this past year and my mama has been so strong throughout the entire process from bringing them home from the hospital to taking care of them daily. My brother will be leaving for the Marines this summer, and my mama has been so supportive of him, even though no parent wants to send their child to war. She tries to put his dreams first. My mama has always supported my twin sister and I as well as our brother to be the best that we can be and to dream big. I recently got engaged and even though she has a million other projects and people to take care of, she still manages to find the time to help me plan the wedding of my dreams. On top of taking care of everyone else, she is currently going back to college to earn a degree so that she can pursue her dreams. She pushes us to achieve our dreams and is always the first one to turn to whenever there is a problem or just to talk. My mama is my hero. She has shown countless times, her dedication to her family and her unconditional love to her children. My mama has shown me how to inspire others and to be supportive because life is too short to do be anything but happy. She has dedicated her life to helping her family and supporting her family through whatever trials that may come our way. I am so honored and proud to have such a dedicated and loving mama, who never fails to put everyone else first even if it means she has to do things that she doesn’t want to do. My mama is the most deserving woman to win the Mother of the Year.

Laurel Reutter

Nominated by Leslie Kerr her Daughter

Laurel Reutter is from Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative

My mother was that one person in my life that has always been there for me; through childhood accidents, high school, relationships, the college years, finding a career, and now marriage. Mom always made sure my sister and I had the most elaborate birthday cook-outs and that our Christmases were filled with family traditions. Every year (for as long as I can remember) mom made at least 20 cookie sheets of fudge to give as presents, plus she still had time to fix amazing Christmas dinners; complete with homemade tomato soup, spiral ham, and homemade barbeque meatballs. Family vacations were always well planned and filled with fun activities that ranged from Hershey Park, PA to Disney World, FL and even Hawaii in high school! Mom taught us to respect everyone and to simply put it, be kind. It is amazing how much both of these ideals mean to me as an adult.

In college, I knew I could call mom at all hours of the day and night because she would be there to talk me through my homesickness or stress of homework. There were even times that she would drive the 2.5 hours just to come eat supper with me to ease my anxiety. When I was forging my way into a career in law enforcement, she was proud that I wanted to pursue a career in a profession where women are not always welcome. My mom taught me and my sister that women can do anything men can do; we just have a unique way of going about it sometimes. Mom showed me how to be strong, persistent, zealous, and never settle for less when it comes to achieving your goals and dreams. If you want something, work hard to get it; do not expect someone to just give it to you. She taught me to go with my instincts even if logic said not to or it sounded too crazy to others.

From the helping me with elementary homework to planning my wedding, my mom has made me into the woman I am today. I married a great man who is also in law enforcement and my mom has helped me through the constant struggle of trying to find the right balance between our relationship and our careers. She listens and knows just what to say when I need to hear it the most. My mother is the truest and closest friend I have. She has never waned from supporting me through the good and bad decisions. She has let me learn from my mistakes while being close enough to catch me when I fall. I may be an adult, but my mom is still the keeper of knowledge and is always the person I turn to for answers to all of my problems. I love my mom beyond words and for all the memories and teachings from my life so far, my mom deserves to be awarded Mother of the Year.

Mary Wieneke

Nominated by Anne, Matthew, Maria, Catherine, Sarah, Margaret, and Jane Wieneke her Children

Mary Wieneke is from Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative

Our mom deserves the title of Mother of the Year because she is an AWESOME and caring mom! She was born and grew up in the town of Jerseyville. She went to college and became a special education teacher. She met our dad, also a teacher, through teaching in his hometown school, Calhoun High School. On November 16th, 1996, they were married at St. Francis Church in Jerseyville, Illinois. They have been married for eighteen years and now have 7 children: Anne (17 years old), Matthew (16 years old), Maria (14 years old), Catherine (11 years old), Sarah (9 years old), Margaret (5 years old), and Jane (3 years old). Mom quit her teaching job to stay at home and homeschool all seven of her children. She took violin lessons as a kid and played in different Orchestras. Using her music skills, she teaches us the violin, piano, and guitar along with our regular studies. She also takes us on field trips to historical sites and museums. Recently, we have been to Fort de Chartres, Washington State Park, Mark Twain Museum, the Melvin Price Lock and Dam, Abraham Lincoln Museum, and many other places. She does a wonderful job of taking care of us every single day.
Our mom is a great cook! Some of her best dishes are her rice casseroles, tacos, homemade pizzas, and many other delicious meals. Sometimes, she prepares up to three homemade meals from scratch for us every day. She also crochets homemade things for us such as scarves, wool socks, purses, headbands, and other small items. She has even sewed handmade dresses for the girls and taught them to sew their own skirts and pillows.
Mom is also the leader of our local 4-H club: the Calhoun County 4-H Lucky Clovers. She hosts a meeting once a month in her house and ensures that all meetings are filled with fun things for everyone. Every other Thursday, she volunteers to spend an hour of Perpetual Adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament in our local church, St. Barbara’s.
After our mom and dad were married, they lived in Jerseyville for about five years. Then, they decided to move to a farm in the small town of Batchtown. Every January, our mom begins planning a huge garden. Then, in the spring, she helps us plant everything. After we pick all of the vegetables, mom, with some of our help, cans or freezes the green beans, beets, asparagus, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, corn, pumpkins, squash, and countless other vegetables. She makes homemade tomato sauce for spaghetti and pasta. She has even taught the girls to make homemade blackberry and strawberry jam.
Not only does she take care of us, but our mom is also a very religious person who loves God. She makes sure that everyone gets up early every Sunday morning to go to 8 a.m. Mass. Every evening, she ensures that we sit down as a family and say the Rosary. She has passed on and nurtured this great treasure, her Catholic faith. Our mom is hardworking, loving, patient, caring, and that is only the beginning!

Teresa Ann Boes

Nominated by Bob Clapp her Her Dad

Teresa Ann Boes is from Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative

It was the most horrible and painful moment of my life. I broke the news to my daughter that her beloved husband had just been killed in a car accident. She was suddenly left to raise her three boys as a single mother. David, Joshua and Jacob were all in elementary school. She had a broken heart and hands full for the years ahead of her. David, the oldest vowed to never run in competition again. He had won first place in the 50 and 100 yard dash at state in the 7th grade and we were all anxious to see what he would do in the 8th grade and high school. He said, “I will not run without my dad there to see me.” He kept his word in spite of all our efforts to convince him dad would be watching from heaven.
Teresa wrestled with raising three heart-broken boys. Carl had taken them fishing, hunting, camping and exploring the great outdoors. They missed him terribly. I took them canoeing down the Buffalo River in Arkansas and tried to fill up some of the void in their lives. Teresa prayed and struggled to be both mom and dad. It was not an easy time. She had to find employment to meet the demands of 3 hungry, demanding, growing boys. We moved her into the extra house we had in the middle of our 15 acres of woods. It was a good place to raise boys that loved the wilderness. She did her best to make it a comfortable, attractive and secure home for them.
Although David didn’t run, his two younger brothers excelled at track, breaking and setting records at Oakland High School. (David could still run circles around them). Teresa was there for all their races and kept scrapbooks of them not only of their high school competition, but for Jacob as he competed at the college level. She spent hours with those books pasting in newspaper articles and snapshots of their races.
David turned to alcohol to drown his pain, which resulted in a terrible car accident. His companion in the car was killed and David ended up with some lifetime injuries. His mom took him in and nursed him back to health as he spent weeks in a wheel chair before regaining his mobility. That “down time” brought changes in his life. He married the girl with whom he had a boy. Now Teresa’s love and devotion extended to a grandson and later to a granddaughter. Later Joshua would marry and bring three more grandsons into her love and devotion. Carl, her oldest grandson married years later and has brought 3 great grandchildren into her devotion. Her marriage to Kim brought another son and granddaughter into their devoted lives.
What a joy it has been to see her pour her life into this tribe of offspring. In return they are devoted to her as the mother hen she has proven to be.

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