William “Bill” England died from complications of COVID-19 while suffering from Alzheimer’s on December 29, 2020 at the age of 82. After serving in the military*, Bill was a graphic designer who worked for Maritz Motivation, Koplar Communication, and retired from Argosy Gaming.
Richard “Ike” Eichenberger died from complications of COVID-19 on December 23, 2020 at the age of 76.
Ike had a lifelong career in music, and served in the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War as Acting Commander of the American Division Band in Chu Lai, South Vietnam. He was a music educator for over forty years in Orchard Farm, St. Charles, and Ferguson-Florissant school districts and at Fontbonne College, Lindenwood University and Meramec Community College. Ike was a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, performer, mentor and teacher throughout his life. He and his first wife Mary were an amazing musical team. They had no children and welcomed their students into their hearts and home. Mary passed away, and in 2017 Ike remarried and was immediately loved by his wife’s adult children and grandchildren.
Ike is missed by his widow, step children, thousands of former students, and the countless people whose lives he touched.
Ronnie Lee Lattimore of Edwardsville passed away December 13, 2020 at the age of 81 after a hard-fought battle with Covid-19.
Ronnie retired from his career at Amoco in Wood River and was enjoying retirement with his wife of 63 years. He loved making wood carvings, eating breakfast at Denny’s with his friends, and also stayed an active member of Troy/Collinsville Church of Christ.
Tragically for his family, Ronnie’s little brother James passed 8 days later (cause of death not available).
Aaron S. Dubin of O’Fallon MO died from complications of COVID-19 and Frontotemporal Dementia on December 30, 2020 at the age of 63. He had previously been a Master chess player and a named partner in the law firm of Frankel, Rubin, Klein, Dubin, Siegel, and Payne.
Sonny Wells of Farmington MO died of COVID-19 at Mercy Jefferson Hospital on December 30, 2020 at the age of 71. He was a 30 year retiree from the Pipefitters Union Local #562 and served six years during wartime in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Lawrence “Larry” Pranger, of Jerseyville IL, passed away on December 29, 2020 at Jersey Community Hospital from complications related to COVID-19 at the age of 82.
Larry attended Illinois State University and was drafted to serve in the Army during the Vietnam War. He married the love of his life while on leave the day after Christmas in 1961. Larry worked for Shell Oil Company in Jerseyville as he and his wife Mary Ann raised their four kids. He was a gifted coach and regularly led youth teams at St. Francis Xavier School to championships in track, baseball, football, and basketball. He and his late wife also took very active roles in raising their grandkids and helping out in their parish, attending mass every Saturday night.
Lawrence Pranger is missed deeply by his kids, grandkids, extended family, friends and all who knew him.
Donna Schroen Naylor of Bethalto Illinois died of COVID-19 on December 11, 2020 at the age of 70. She caught the novel coronavirus in November and passed soon after.
Donna was a retired teacher, having touched countless young lives for 33 years in Cottage Hills and Bethalto East. She received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in education from Southern Illinois University, and was continually enriching her mind by reading books and learning. Donna never had her own children, and poured her love into her school kids, fur babies, and volunteer work. She and her late husband shared a passion for therapy dogs, which they’d take to local nursing homes. Long before COVID-19 hit, Donna knew the importance of making sure that families don’t go hungry; you could find her every Thursday at The House of Victory Food Pantry ministering, praying with, and giving groceries to those in need. She continued this volunteer work through the pandemic, until becoming sick herself from COVID. Donna is remembered as being one of the most cheerful people that anyone could possibly meet. “You could count on her to laugh at your feeblest joke and enthusiastically cheer your slightest success.”
Donna Schroen Naylor is missed deeply by her brother, small extended family, church family, huge circle of friends and acquaintances, and the countless people whose lives she touched.
Sharon Kay Wylder (nee Lobstein) of Carlyle Illinois died from complications of COVID-19 on December 29, 2020 at the age of 78.
Sharon grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois attended St. Teresa’s Academy and graduated from St. John’s School of Nursing as a Registered Nurse. As a nurse, she cared for everyone from nursing home residents to newborns. Sharon raised her five kids with her late husband, and loved it when she was able to retire and spend more time with her grand kids.
Sharon Wylder is missed deeply by her sister and three brothers, five adult kids, grandchildren, great grandchildren, extended family and circle of friends.
Talmage Dwain Hillman of Godfrey IL died of COVID-19 on December 16, 2020 at the age of 75. His final message before he died was “wear a mask, the life you save may not be your own.”
Tal spent his life helping people live better lives through his work with the developmentally disabled at Bellefontaine Habilitation Center. He’s remembered for the way he lifted everyone up, helping employees he managed to reach their potential as they helped the residents they worked with. After retiring in 2013, Tal stayed in touch with his old coworkers, finally had time to golf more, and loved live shows and Cardinals games. Lately he had started to forget things and moved into an assisted living facility, but he “remembered two current things: Covid & he hated Trump.” Tal was still madly in love with his wife of 54 years and they were able to Facetime together before he passed.
Talmage Hillman is missed deeply by his wife, two daughters, son, grandchildren, extended family, huge circle of friends, and the many lives he touched through his long career of helping people with developmental disabilities live their best lives.
Helen Therese Pagel of Ellisville, MO died from complications of COVID-19 and congestive heart disease on December 15, 2020 at the age of 93 at Missouri Baptist Hospital.
Helen was raised in Milwaukee and met her late husband while working as a night clerk at the rail road. They started and ran Brown Mill Tavern and Cafe on the upper Michigan peninsula for 21 years while they raised their six children. Helen was incredibly proud that all her kids worked at the family business and went on to graduate college. Her and Roy enjoyed 52 years of marriage until his death in 2006. She was known for her wide range of artistic talents, from sketching graphics for her kids’ science projects to sewing costumes and tailoring clothing. For the past two years, Helen lived in an assisted care facility being visited as often as possible by her large family and watching reruns of her favorite TV shows (The Lawrence Welk Show and Gunsmoke). A devout Catholic, she attended Mass every Sunday as long as she was physically able to.
Helen Therese Pagel is missed deeply by her six surviving children, grand children, large extended family and all her friends.
Donald “Don” Lavin died of COVID-19 on December 21, 2020 at the age of 94.
Don was raised in North St. Louis and served in the Navy on the USS Borie at the end of World War II. After being honorably discharged, Don completed his studies at St. Louis University and married the love of his life. They raised three children and grew stronger together after the tragic death of their youngest child to heart disease. While Don prioritized his family and faith, his accomplished career in the automotive industry spanned more than forty years, the last thirty-two of which he spent at Chrysler. He was known for his limitless capacity for kindness, his laughter, his epic story telling, fierce poker playing, and driving tennis opponents to insanity with his notorious lob. He was devastated when his wife passed in 2015 after 64 years of marriage.
Donald’s obituary states: “Don was 94 years old when he contracted Covid and passed on less than one week later. Despite that hospital restrictions prevented his family from visiting his bedside, his dedicated nurses, Chuck and Lexi, arranged Zoom calls that allowed his family to bid their final farewells. His memory as an unparalleled role model looms large among his relatives who miss him dearly. They wish to offer a special thanks to Dr. James Hollis, the staff at the Covid Unit at Mercy Hospital and the loving caretakers at The Glen at Aberdeen, especially Don’s “personal trainer” Maria.”
Don is missed deeply by his two surviving adult children, his grandkids, extended family and many friends.
Patricia Ann Retter, of Jerseyville, Illinois, lost her battle with COVID-19 on December 10, 2020 at the age of 86 at Missouri Baptist Hospital in St. Louis.
Patricia was the beloved wife of Reverend Edwin Retter and together they raised two daughters while serving in the Nazarene ministry. She liked collecting snowmen, doing crossword puzzles, crocheting, and helping out friends. Patricia was the family matriarch and always quick with a kind word and listening ear.
Patricia Retter is missed every moment by her husband and soulmate of 67 years. She’s also grieved by her surviving daughter, grandkids, church family, and all those whose lives brightened by her presence.
PS: Her family was trying to collect cards to send to her grieving husband, see the Facebook link below.
Thomas Martin Jr. of Lonedell in Franklin County MO died of COVID-19 on December 12, 2020 at the age of 74.
Tom grew up in St. Louis County and joined the Army right after Highschool during the Vietnam War. After his honorable discharge, Tom started as a salesman for a food distribution business. He worked his way up, while raising a three kids with his wife, and eventually managed several food distributorships. Tom loved his faith and took joy in all kinds of outdoors activities, whether hunting, fishing, hiking or just mowing his yard. Most of all, Tom loved his kids and his grandkids, and took lots of pride in being a wonderful husband and father. He was a lifelong Republican and avid watcher of Fox News.
Thomas J. Martin Jr. is missed deeply by his wife of 42 years his kids, grandkids, extended family and circle of friends.
Nelly Grosswasser, Ph.D., a professor emerita of Russian literature and the founder of the Russian program at Saint Louis University, died of COVID-19 on Dec. 16, 2020 at the age of 95.
She was described as being feisty and a “true force of nature”. Like the Russian literature she taught, Nelly’s life story involved romance, war, and spanned continents. She was born in Kharkov, Ukraine, USSR and moved with her brother to avoid the Nazis during World War II. She met her (late) husband Sol (who had just been released from a labor camp) while in Kazakhstan. They escaped to Germany after the war, eventually immigrating to the USA with their young son in 1949.
Although she had a BA in engineering, Dr. Grosswasser’s true calling was education, in which she earned an MA and PhD from Washington University. Her impressive career accomplishments are detailed beautifully in the sources below, but what she was probably most noted for was being St. Louis University’s first full-time Russian language teacher, remaining at the university for 47 years. Nelly mentored thousands of students, was voted most popular teacher at SLU numerous times, won many teaching awards, and continued to support students of Russian language long after retiring.
According to her obituary, “Nelly tried to ease the way for others. She prepared a booklet for Russian immigrants that explained how to shop, bank, get gas, etc. She helped them with job placement and translated documents for them. She also was a founding member (for over 50 years) of the “Culture Vultures”, a book group of working women whose motto was “No talking about diapers, children or husbands, just literature”.”
Nelly is missed deeply by her brother, son and daughter, grandchildren, great-grandchild, friends, and all the thousands of people who she taught, mentored, and otherwise helped.
William “Bill” French lost his fight with COVID-19 on December 20, 2020 at the age of 77.
In 1977 Bill founded Wm French Buyers Real Estate Services, Inc., a comprehensive relocation service that focused solely on the buyers’ interests with a relocation plan tailored specifically to their needs. It was, at the time, the first and only buyers-only model agency in the country, and grew to be the largest. Bill worked tirelessly to grow the business as he and his wife raised their two sons. He was a passionate advocate and volunteer for the Independence Center, served on the Board of Directors for 8 years, and never missed an opportunity to assist in furthering the organization’s mission to holistically help those with severe and persistent mental illnesses.
Bill French is missed deeply by his wife (the love of his life), two adult sons, grandchildren, employees, huge circle of friends and colleagues, those whose lives he touched through his volunteer efforts with the Independence Center, and the countless people whose lives he brightened while on this earth.
Gregory J. Warnecke of Belleville, Illinois died of COVID-19 on December 31, 2020, at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital at the age of 90.
Greg would make handtools and decorative pieces out of wood as a child growing up in Clinton County. After he finished serving in the United States Army Security Agency, he went to work as cabinetmaker with the Markus Cabinet Company, before switching to working on residential and commercial projects. Greg’s love of woodworking was possibly only exceeded by his love for his wife, who he recently celebrated 58 years of marriage with in May 2020. In retirement, Greg liked traveling, fishing, spending time with family, but he continued his passion for woodworking through designing and building furniture for his home and for St. Mary’s Church in Belleville. His craftsmanship can be seen on the “refurbished sacristy cabinets, both the Easter candle and Advent wreath stands, credence table, and extensive restoration of our Pieta statue and the figures in our Christmas Creche, to name a few.”
Gregory J. Warnecke is missed deeply by his wife, three children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, extended family, friends, and church-family.
Eleanor Podolski died of COVID-19 on December 26, 2020 at the age of 90.
Ellie was known for her contagious laugh, bubbly personality, and love of learning and new experiences. She and her husband Stanley raised two sons and a daughter, and she also helped run the family store (Podolski’s Market). Ellie was a member of Polish Falcons Nest 45, where she was a Legion of Honor Bronze and Silver Star of Merit recipient and also a member of the Polish American Cultural Society. In her later years, she lovingly cared for her husband of 67 years as he suffered from dementia until his death in 2017.
Ellie is missed by her surviving son and daughter, grandchildren, extended family, and circle of friends. In her obituary her family wrote, “Please say a prayer for Eleanor and please get vaccinated.”
Kenneth D. Bjelland of Alton, IL died after a lengthy battle with COVID-19 on December 10, 2020 at the age of 74.
Ken captained a sailboat named The Midnight Sun and was a regular fixture at Lithia Springs Marina in Shelbyville. His favorite things were sailing, seafood, and anything to do with water and travel. He retired as DeWitt County Farm Bureau manager in 2016 after 35 years and moved from Maroa IL to Alton to be with his wife.
Ken will be remembered for his dry wit, adventurous palate, and love of life. He is missed deeply by his wife, two daughters, a grandson, and by his extended family and many friends in the Midwest and in Norway.
Jimmie Allen Palmer of Collinsville, IL died December 16, 2020 at Mercy Hospital from COVID-19 related complications at the age of 79.
Jimmie was a retired carpenter millwright, enjoying retirement with his wife of 62 years. He loved nothing more than a good bargain, and was a daily visitor to Pawn King in Collinsville. Jimmie was also passionate about classic cars (especially his blue Challenger), playing golf, spending time with his family, and laughing. He coached his four kids’ baseball and sports and had a blast being a father, and even more fun being a granddad and great granddad.
Jimmie Palmer is missed deeply by his wife, kids, grandchildren, great grandchildren, extended family, friends, and by his dog Gracie.
Diane Bode Dinges Neukam died of COVID-19 on December 12, 2020 at Belleville Memorial Hospital at the age of 70, with her children at her side.
Diane had three children with her first husband and loved being a mom and then a grandma. She co-founded Kid’s Kloset before becoming a medical transcriptionist for Belleville Memorial Hospital and eventually retiring from Oncology Care Center in Swansea. Diane loved to travel anywhere there was a beach and sun – to a lake resort or Caribbean! She also loved shopping, dining out with good friends, seeing live music, and gardening. People, laughter, and love mattered most to her and Diane was the type who never knew a stranger, making many lifelong friends from chance encounters.
Diane is missed deeply by her children and grandchildren, her extended family, inlaws on her first husband and (late) second husbands’ sides, and all her many friends.