Shirley J. Stoffa, age 59, of Elburn, passed away early Sunday morning March 13, 2011, at her home surrounded by her loving family. She fought the good fight; she finished the race, and with the loving, tender care of her family and countless prayers of many, she is now safely home in heaven.
Shirley Jane Collins was born July 3, 1951, in Elgin, Ill., the daughter of James and Dorothy (Heinberg) Collins. She grew up on a farm in rural St. Charles until the age of 12, when the family moved to the family farm on Keslinger Road, Elburn. She attended St. Patrick’s Catholic School in St. Charles and graduated from Kaneland High School with the class of 1969. Following graduation, she became employed at National Electronics, LaFox, and worked in customer service.
In 1973, through a mutual friend, Shirley went to supper with the young man who would steal her heart and in time become her husband of 35 years. Mike Stoffa and Shirley dated for several years before they were united in marriage on May 31, 1975, at St. Gall Church in Elburn. They made their first homes in several apartments in Elburn before moving to their first house on Nebraska Street in 1980. Shirley had a chance to make her house a home with all of her creative skills. Her hands and heart were truly made to be a mother, and Shirley exemplified both as their children, Todd and Sarah, grew up. In 2000, the family moved to their present home on Pierce Street.
No matter where they made their home, family was always first in Shirley’s heart. She was an ever-ready babysitter for nieces and nephews. She loved cooking, reading and took great pride in her flower and vegetable gardens. Shirley’s busy hands were never idle and through countless hours she sewed, altered and created clothing and costumes not only for her family but for many others. In later years, she created beautiful quilts and other crafts. She never missed any of Todd or Sarah’s school events. Mother-and-daughter times went from childhood to being grown women and best friends. Shirley was always there through all of Sarah’s joys and challenges. Through the last weeks, Sarah’s role changed as she became the caregiver and constant companion.
In 2003, the family grew as Molly became Todd’s wife and in 2005, Abigail Grace was born and Shirley became Grammy, finding the beginning of a light that could brighten any day. That joy became complete when Cole Michael was born in 2008. Abby and Cole brought hope and happiness with every hug.
In early 1984, Shirley became a library aid at the Kaneland Elementary School. It was a job that would grow into a career as she worked her way up to her present position as the Benefits Coordinator for Kaneland School District 302.
Apple Canyon Lake was one of Shirley’s favorite places to be. In 1996, the Collins family was looking for a place to have their annual family gathering. The perfect spot became the cabin at Apple Canyon Lake, a place built by family and friends, the Collins Ponderosa. It was the place where all of the family could be together and share not only their annual retreat but countless weekends of fun. Shirley’s memory will live forever in the hearts of her family and friends. Shirley had countless gifts, but it was the fruits of the spirit that perhaps exemplified her best: patience, love, caregiving, a trustful faith and always being the peacemaker.
She was a faithful member of St. Gall Church, the Elburn Firemen’s Ladies Auxiliary, served on the Kaneland Hall of Fame Board and the Kaneland 50th Anniversary Committee and volunteered many hours for the Elburn Lions Club.
She is survived by her loving husband, Mike of Elburn; two children, Todd (Molly) Stoffa and Sarah Stoffa, all of DeKalb; her two grandchildren, Abby and Cole (and grand-dog, Chief); three sisters, JoAnn Collins of Streamwood, Ill., Kathy Freeburg of St. Charles and Mary (John) Rogerson of Big Rock; two brothers, Richard (Terri) Collins of Oswego, Ill., and Don (Karen) Collins of Downers Grove, Ill.; her mother-in-law, Darlene Stoffa of Elburn; her brother-in-law, John (Terri) Stoffa of Geneva; three sisters-in-law, Linda Stoffa-Souders, Loretta (Jim) Rausch, Lora (John) Cain, all of Elburn; many nieces, nephews and extended family.
She is preceded in death by her parents, James and Dorothy Collins; one brother, David Collins; great-nephews, Brian and Eric Lloyd; and her father-in-law, George Stoffa.
Visitation will be held Thursday, March 17, from 2 to 8 p.m., with the Rosary to be said at 2 p.m. at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn. A Mass to celebrate Shirley’s life will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at St. Gall Church, Elburn, with visitation beginning at 10 a.m. Father Karl Ganss will officiate, and interment will follow at St. Gall Cemetery, Elburn.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in her name. Checks may be made to the Shirley Stoffa Memorial and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119. Memories and tributes may be forwarded to the family at the same address or on the web at www.conleycare.com. For further information, call (630) 365-6414.