Matthew “Jeff” Yagen, 98, of Maple Park, passed away peacefully, surrounded by the love and prayers of his family, on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, at Delnor Hospital in Geneva.
He was born on the Sauber Farm, just north of Virgil, on Dec. 26, 1914, in Virgil, Ill., the son of John and Gertrude (Meyers) Yagen.
In March of the following year, they moved to the family farm on Beith Road. Jeff attended S.S. Peter & Paul Elementary School before graduating from Maple Park High School in 1933.
Following graduation, Jeff did odd jobs for a time, but came back to what came naturally, and that was farming. He began working on the Tierney/Winters farm in 1941 and never stopped, even after buying it himself in 1954. Jeff continued to farm the land and tend his cattle until his “retirement” in 1975. In reality he was still driving the tractor until five years ago, when he took over the title “supervisor”. That lasted until only a few months ago before laying down his tools for good.
Jeff took a brief break from his beloved farming to unite in marriage to Margaret E. Tierney on Nov. 1, 1941, in Chicago. While Jeff returned to his fields, Margaret used her God-given talents as a nurse by caring for thousands over the years at Sycamore Hospital. They made golden memories together until sadness came calling on May 26, 1980.
Early in his life, Jeff was an incredible athlete. He excelled at basketball and baseball for many years, and even played hard ball through his 40th birthday. Eventually, his pastimes changed from ball fields and basketball courts to fields, streams and lakes, where he loved to hunt and fish to his heart’s content. Since the summer vacation of 1947, and up until just a few years ago, thousands of hours were spent in Ely, Minn., fishing with family and friends at the family cabin.
Family was always most important to Jeff. He always made a point to cheer on his children, and later, his granddaughter, living vicariously through each win and loss.
Sadly, Jeff had to leave this earth with one task undone. Though he bled “Cubby Blue”, his beloved Chicago Cubs never won another World Series. Maybe next year, with a little bit of celestial cheer, Jeff can make a difference for generations of “die hards” that he left behind.
In recent years, Jeff was a regular for “coffee time” at Maple Park Grain, and later, at the Peterson home.
He is survived by two children, Michael (Judy) Yagen and Jeffery (Peggy) Yagen; one granddaughter, Maggie (Neil) Foy; a sister, Mary Ann (Jospeh) Schramer; two sisters-in-law, Guyla Yagen and Evelyn Yagen; many nieces and nephews, including Gary and Beverly Tierney; and other extended family, including John, Ed, Steve, Chris, their spouses and children.
A special thank you to Norma Strang, who spent countless Sundays with Jeff. Her kind words and actions brought a special kind of peace to not only Jeff’s heart, but to his family’s, as well.
He is preceded in death by his parents, John and Gertrude; two brothers, William “Slim” Yagen and John “Bud” Yagen; and two sisters, Katherine (Norm) Beck and Elizabeth (Bill) Powers.
Visitation was held Wednesday at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St. Elburn. A mass to celebrate his life will take place at 11 a.m., with a brief visitation from 10 to 10:45 a.m., on Thursday, Feb. 7, at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, Maple Park. Interment will follow at Gardner Cemetery, Maple Park.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in his name to benefit his favorite charities. Checks may be made to the “Matthew Yagen Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at www.conleycare.com.