A Memorial Mass for Wilma Jeannette Keller will take place at 10 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 30, at St. Gall Church in Elburn, with inurnment to follow at St. Gall Cemetery.
Keller passed away on Nov. 7, 2012, in Baldwin City, Kan.
Wilma was born on Oct. 5, 1916, in Elburn, the daughter of William Paul and Anna (Bross) Deckert. She graduated from Elburn High School in 1934, and for the next 10 years worked as a dairy maid, companion, housemaid and cook for families in the Chicago area and in Michigan, and as a clerk in Henderson, Nev. When her children were in school, she returned to the workforce as a line worker for Furnas Electric until her retirement in 1978.
Wilma married John Albert Keller on April 11, 1942, at the chapel of McCarran Army Air Force Field in Las Vegas, at 6 a.m. “because that was when Father Junk said Mass.” John preceded her in death on Nov. 12, 1987.
In Illinois, Wilma was a member of the St. Gall Altar and Rosary Society and the Elburn American Legion Auxiliary. In Lawrence, she attended Corpus Christi Church.
She became a Chicago Cubs fan in the 1930s, when Tuesdays were Ladies’ Day at Wrigley Field, admission was $.10, and you wore hat, gloves, and your second-best dress. Her fidelity to the Cubs, and her optimism about their prospects, never waned.
The daughter of an accomplished musician, Wilma loved music, and she did everything she
could to foster her grandchildren’s abilities, from purchasing music and recordings to figuring out, when she was in her mid-70s, how to shoehorn a three-quarter-size upright bass into her Crown Victoria.
She loved to cook, and everyone she fed had a favorite—rhubarb cobbler, chop suey, roast beef and gravy, lemon meringue pie or spaghetti casserole (only John loved her liver dumplings, but she made them for him anyway). She was renowned for the vats of coleslaw she prepared for the church’s St. Patrick’s Day dinner.
Wilma’s true vocation was as a wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She was wise, tolerant and giving, not only to her husband, children and grandchildren, but also to her nieces and nephews, and to many others who needed a confidante or a surrogate mom or grandma.
Survivors include daughter, Jeannette (Dan) Johnson of Lawrence; son, William J. (Cheryl) Keller of Elburn; four grandchildren, Kevin (Susan) Keller, Kim Provenzano, Thomas Johnson and wife Corey Heiberger, and Eric Johnson; and three great-grandchildren, Alex Keller and Nicolette and Joseph Provenzano.
She was also preceded in death by her sister, Clara L. Hewitt, and great-granddaughter, Gianna Provenzano.
Memorial contributions may be made in Wilma’s name to the KU Endowment Association for the Hilltop Child Development Center Scholarship Fund, Corpus Christi Catholic School, or Elburn St. Gall Catholic Church, and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.
Online condolences may be sent to www.warrenmcelwain.com.