Monday, January 23, 2017

Francine Kitzmiller Scovel, obituary

Fran at the 2007 class reunion, White Pines

Francine M. Scovel (nee Kitzmiller), 77, of Braceville, IL, passed away Monday, Jan. 16, 2017 at her home.

Born Aug. 12, 1939 in Freeport, IL, she was the daughter of Melvin and Grace (nee Mennenga) Kitzmiller. Francine was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and the Women of the Moose Lodge #1551 in Mt. Morris, IL.

Surviving are three daughters: Malinda Gentry of Dwight, IL; Lisa (Craig) Adams of Braidwood, IL and Sheila (Dale) Halstead of Mazon, IL; 13 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, special friend, James Baker; and one brother, Gregory Kitzmiller. 

She was preceded in death by her husband, Arthur Walker Scovel; daughter, Kelly Ann Scovel; grandson, Nick Peddicord and sister, Shirley Otten. 

Funeral services will be at the R.W. Patterson Funeral Homes, Ltd. & Crematory, Braidwood Chapel, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017 at 10 a.m. Interment will be in Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Dixon, IL. The visitation will be Thursday, Jan.19, from 4-8 p.m. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts in her name may be directed to Braceville Fire Department or Braceville United Methodist Church. 

For more information and to visit her online guestbook, log onto or find their Facebook page at R.W. Patterson Funeral Homes.

R.W. Patterson Funeral Homes, Ltd. & Crematory, 401 E. Main St., Braidwood is in charge of arrangements.


Several classmates attended the graveside service in Dixon and had the opportunity to speak to her family.  Lynne has prepared some personal remembrances collected from classmates. 

 LYNNE‘S Reflections: The fun has gone out of life today. The four of us, Priscilla, Fran, Nancy and I, did everything together in school. She was the first of the four to marry, have children and to die...leaving us to scratch our heads in wonderment. I dropped in one Sunday for some of their good coffee to find Fran reading to little Malinda, a Golden Book I had recently given the darling little girl. . . and thinking to myself. . . She IS a good mother, she was probably a “fun” mother, too. I had a “fun” mother. . .what a delight they are!  She never took herself seriously as some of us did. She was wonderful fun!!! Damn cancer anyway, on top of her strokes, if that weren't enough... Enough already--rest  now...Priscilla often says “old age sucks." Today she is soooo right.....
SALLEY‘S Reflections: Salley remembers that she and Fran were kicked out of the  Trinity Lutheran church junior choir for giggling and making fun of something. They were sent to the choir loft that next Sunday at services  as punishment. It was hardly punishment. They had more fun up there unsupervised  and continued to giggle and have fun, and considered it not much punishment.

DAVE B recalls: Fran and her husband Art attended some of the parties he and his wife Marilyn had.  Fran WAS the life of the party. . . many good memories of her. Unforgettable smile and laugh.

MIKE B:  Francine was terrific!  She didn’t know anyone she didn’t like or didn’t like her.  Always smiling and positive.  She loved to dance-boogying was her middle name. She was always among the volunteers to decorate a float or for a dance or cheering on the “Mounders.” Her parents were terrific people, too. Very supportive of their 3 kids. Fran was an “honest” personality. She will be missed.

SARA remembers: Franny was her own woman. You had to love her! The song ”We’ll meet again” is going through my head and mind now. I know that is true because of the Promise we have been given.  It’s the Between Times- we need to be pondering and cherishing more fully.  “We’ll meet again some sunny day”

Norma remembers: My most vivid memories are of us, at my parent’s home on Hannah, after a wedding shower for Fran and her excitement about her love--Art. It was dark and Fran and I were standing outside near a big evergreen. Everyone was talking and she was so sappy in love. I do remember Lynne saying, “She found a winner in Art Scovel.”  The next year when Tina K. was visiting we went to see her and her new baby, Malinda!  I do treasure those happy memories. She had her health struggles in recent years, but the laugh and smile stayed.”

PRISCILLA remembers: One clear memory is when she and Art lived on W. Front St., near us.  I was still single and she was married to such a nice guy (with such a wonderful speaking voice!). She had a tiny baby and I went to her home to visit Fran, Art and her little baby girl. I remember the high school slumber parties, making those pyramids, and the food!...French fries, everyone would bring a potato and the popcorn followed by brownies. Slumber parties--that’s an oxymoron, right? No one slept and Fran’s parents probably didn’t either!  She was such fun. I can clearly see her smile and hear her laugh.

Nancy S.:  I  had  no idea she was having problems until hearing the news of Fran’s death.  I am sad, very sad.  Francine was one to be so positive and always having fun. Her smile I will never forget as she used it often.

Nancy L recalls: For our 50th reunion (2007) Fran and Jim picked me up at O’Hare airport and we got motel rooms in Dixon. When time came to leave for the Pines she was to call my room to let me know she was ready and to meet her at the car. She called 911 instead of my room.  The police, the Dixon fire dept and the ambulance showed up at the motel!  I tried to tell this story to those attending the reunion but was laughing too hard and every time Fran and I looked at each other we laughed until we cried. I think it was the next day or so that we finally were able to tell the rest of our classmates. That was Fran. She could laugh her way out of just about anything. I remember the time we all hiked to the White Pines park. On the way she and I decided we would pretend to have been hit by a car. With the first aid kit we had, we painted each other with iodine and bandaged each other up.  Priscilla and Lynne were to stand by the road and pretend to be crying and wave down passers-by. Fran and I would jump up to show we were not hurt. We thought it funny-those that stopped to help us did not think it as funny.  We continued on our hike and that day we walked from Mt. Morris to the Pines and then on to Oregon. We were too worn out to walk home from Oregon and called Fran’s mother for a ride. I wonder to this day how Fran explained the iodine stains on her clothing. I could recall so much more--the evening talks on the Flemings’ picnic table-charting all our hopes and dreams. And watching the Northern Lights for the first time.  Over the years we four never lost touch. Oh, we had gaps--all friendships do--but when you truly love someone, time and distance closes when you finally are together. Fran is waiting for the rest of us--and probably waiting for me to plan our next adventure. What an adventure that will be.

Jon M said: I can hear her laughing as I write. She was the FUN in life. She got all she could out of every moment of it. Our Frannie. You go girl!

Sylvia comments: None like her. She will be missed!

Lynne concludes: A number of underclassmen from our school days said some nice things, too.  But am limiting this to “Us” and it is so-- “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends and say my glory was I had such friends.”- W.B.Yeats

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Poems from the past by Lynne

In sorting through my Christmas basket of letters and photos (sorting and decluttering goes along with age) I found some great letters from my cousin in Canada, and even a few from my mother who died in 2000. Sadly, there were also Christmas letters from "Squeeky" and Nelson (Tom) (obituaries are on the blog). As a bonus,  I found three nice seasonal poems by Lynne. I've been nagging her for years to compile them, but who listens to me?  I really like the New Year poem message--remarkable from one who has faced down cancer three times.
"There is time out there to be lived,
But not one minute must we hoard."

Christmas 1993
Home for Christmas

I'm going home for Christmas
(who says one can't go home again!)
And it always recalls to mind,
The dear folks who will be waiting there
With smiles to sweet and kind.

I am going home for Christmas,
at the thought my heart sings;
I can scarcely wait for that morning
For the joy that it brings.

It's a small house in a village
where smoke curls in the air,
The log fire where the flames leap high,
A cozy, winged-back chair.
Pure contentment, yes it's there.

The shadows of the evening
fall across the snow,
and bathe the earth in pale pink glow,
While winter's sun burns low.

The neighborhood church is beckoning
With iviting candle light, and music,
traditional and old is telling of a reckoning
so long ago foretold.

Home reflects itself within my heart,
I'm at once happy and at peace for he who sees
For I'm going home for Christmas
To all those memories.

Christmas 1995
So, Tested Friendships

Like lighted cnadles set on a window ledge
at night, which throw
A mellow, yellow path of light
Across the Christmas snow. . .

Like dancing hearth flames' warm caress
Reflecting cheer,
Soft'ning kind faces
That we hold dear.

Like holly berries bright;
Like mistltoe, with berries white . . .
Like bright stars upon a clear midnight.

So, tested friendships,
Mellow, cheering, warm and purse;
One of life's cherished gifts,
Through passing years endure.

Christmas 2002
The New Year

The old year was generous in many ways,
In other ways she may have seemed austere.
But I feel no recrimination--only joy,
As I face the New Year without fear.
There is time out there to be lived,
But not one minute must we hoard.
The year is given to us in trust,
Wanton waste we cannot afford.
And the days will grow into weeks,
The tasks and blessings will pile high.
We'll find real joy in living,
As these weeks go swiftly by.
And weeks make up months--just twelve,
How quickly the precious time goes.
Amy time have made us wiser and better.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Our class Christmas Tree

Thanks to Lynne, the MMHS class of 1957 again has a presence in the Mt. Morris Christmas festivities, which are so wonderful for a small town. As you recall, on behalf of the class Lynne also painted a fire hydrant in the summer contest. She also helped organize and select a tree that stands year around on the campus as a memorial for deceased classmates. Although she's not an "official" representative of the class at the local food pantry, I like to think of it that way as she is such an active volunteer there.

  Lynne writes in an e-mail: "Traditionally the village has done a Christmas in the village type thing with craft fairs, Santa visit, a breakfast, etc...the organization started loading up the band shell with different trees for anyone wishing to join in the fun several years is a beautiful site at night and a real spirit lifter when you walk or drive by and a good use of an empty band shell... Last year was our first attempt and it looked more like a bush than a tree. This years version is taller but awfully slim...and way too modern for my taste...Next year I am trying for a red and black tree with red lights...I would welcome help with finding black decorations! December 3rd is the day set aside for this years Christmas event...with a craft fair at Pinecrest,Letters to Santa,a village wide breakfast and the new art museum in the old Sandstone building which is something new and worth the visit. Our little village looks so much better dressed for the holidays.

Our village looks like a Christmas card,
Glistening, happy, bright:
For feathery, star like snowflakes
Have fallen through the night.
The bushes all wear lacy scarves:
The trees are cloaked I snow:
Winter's magic is everywhere
And hearts are aglow.
Just like a lovely Christmas card
The message this day brings
Is "Peace on earth,goodwill to men"
A thought that makes our hearts sing!
The old year passes softly
Unnoticed through the door...
Pausing on the threshold
To return no more.
The new year enters proudly
As welcome as can be,
But what lies in the future
Is yet for us to see.
The past is gone forever
Except in memory,
And we must live in the present
For the future's yet to be...
may it be with Peace and Love
We'll see.
c Lynne Fleming Wilburn

Instructions for submitting a tree 

Monday, December 05, 2016

Warren Burstrom died December 3

A favorite teacher of many in our class, Warren Burstrom, died on December 3, 2016. I can still see him giving the guys in the science classes a hard time. And he coached many in sports. His main career was in Freeport at the college, but we'll always remember him at MMHS. He attended some of our class reunions, most recently in 2014, or sent a humorous message. Re-reading the class blog I see he and his wife attended the town cantata in December 2009.
"Warren F. Burstrom, age 92 of Freeport, IL, passed away Saturday, December 3, 2016 at FHN Memorial Hospital in Freeport. He was born April 11, 1924 in Chicago, IL; son of the late Frank and Hattie (Schumann) Burstrom. He graduated from Portage Park and Schurz High Schools in Chicago, and attended Luther College until his call to serve his country. Warren served in the United States Navy during WWII, stationed at the end of the war at Treasure Island, CA. He holds the highest recorded score in navigation. While in the Navy he played on the Treasure Island baseball team. He completed his B.A. at Luther College after discharge. He pursued graduate education at the University of Minnesota in Philosophy, completed a Masters in Mathematics at Western Illinois University and continued post-graduate studies at Case Western and New Mexico State University.

Warren married Rosella Opsand on August 9, 1952 in Gunder, IA; she passed on April 30, 1981. He married Deloris (Smedstad) Womeldorf on June 19, 1983.

Teaching was Warren’s passion and he began his teaching career in Mt. Morris, IL where he also coached football, golf, and baseball. He then went on to teach at Highland Community College in Freeport beginning in 1963 and retiring in 1988. He served as chairman of the Mathematics and Science Department of Highland. He was also instrumental in the foundation of Highland’s School of Nursing. Warren was also a former president of the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and of Golden “K” Kiwanis Club. He was also a member of the Northwest Illinois Audubon Society, the Jane Addamsland Park Foundation that supports the bike path, the Highland Community College Chorale, and served on the Board of Directors for the FACC. He also volunteered and supported the Salvation Army active with the Highland College Foundation. Warren was a member of First Lutheran Church of Freeport where he served on the church council. He loved playing tennis, baseball, and bicycling as well as woodworking. Warren was known as a “storyteller par excellence.”

He is survived by his wife, Deloris Burstrom of Freeport; daughters, Kathryn (Frank) Hall of Corvallis, OR and Ruth (Niels Chapman) Burstrom of Albuquerque, NM; son, Frank Burstrom of Tucson, AZ; step children; Vicki (Mark) Brunsvold of Edina, MN, Mark (Holly) Womeldorf of Plymouth, MN, Marti (Dan) Guetzlaff of Faribault, MN, Dale (Cathy) Womeldorf of Shakopee, MN, and Erik (Shala Cunningham) Womeldorf of Roanoke, VA; grandchildren, Eric Hall and Anika Hall of Portland, OR; step grandchildren: Amanda & Sydney Brunsvold of Edina, MN; Pieper (Ben) Lundell of Dubuque, IA; Aaron (Alexis) Guetzlaff of Lenexa, KS; Elliott Guetzlaff of Denver, CO; Abby Guetzlaff of Chicago, IL; Evan Guetzlaff of Lenexa, KS; Andrew, Jacob, Zachary & Samantha Womeldorf, Hannah & Tyler Birkholz of Minneapolis, MN; and Wynn & Noah Womeldorf of Roanoke, VA; step great grandchildren, Kylan & Brielle Guetzlaff, and Yeardley & Walker Lundell; nephew Greg Giles (Tracey Barrett) cousins, Barbara (Cornelius) Van Diggelen; Kim (Kathee) Stanke, and Kirk (Sue) Stanke; and many dear friends. He was preceded in death by his parents; first wife, Rosella; brother, George (Eva) Giles; and cousin, Beth Stanke.

A visitation will be held Tuesday, December 6th from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at Walker Mortuary in Freeport. The funeral service will be Wednesday, December 7th at 11:00 am at First Lutheran Church in Freeport with visitation beginning at 9:30 am. Interment will take place at Oakland Cemetery in Freeport. A memorial fund has been established in his name with donations going to his favorite local charities listed above.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The fall of 1954--it was warm, and so are the memories.

 (Note: this was transferred from Mike Balluff's  Mt. Morris High School page on Facebook which covers a number of classes, which is why you'll see references to FB on it)

Today (and yesterday) in central Ohio we’re supposed to match the temperature records for 1954! I think it will be about 72, depending on where you are, and I [Norma] hope to get out for several walks. We get our weather about a day after Illinois, so I’m thinking it was warm there too in November 1954. I was a sophomore in 1954 at Mt. Morris High School so I pulled out my school annual (white, padded cover, Mounder title in red, 1955) to see what was going on. Tina Kable would walk from her home on North Hannah, stop at my house on South Hannah, we’d walk up Main Street and pick up Kay Alter and Priscilla Drummond.

In the fall months we also stayed in touch the old fashioned way—through our school newspaper, The Hilltopper put out by the journalism class. By doing this group project they learned writing style, proofing for mistakes, how to paste-up pages, typing copy and running a mimeograph—probably not useful skills today, but teamwork is always important. I see names from Facebook like Bob Rawes, Donna Coddington, Ralph Dollinger. On a warm November day we’d all walk together after school on our way to Felker’s for a cherry coke searching for our names in the Hilltopper.

By November, the annual staff had already begun preparations of this book by getting advertisers, developing a theme, taking photos and planning the art work. I see some Facebook or email list members I recognize like Joyce Kinsley, Bob Rawes and Jerry Wallace. A promotional sign says the year book cost $2.75! That was a good buy—mine is 60 years old. There’s even a photo of my sister Carol (d. 1996) whose grandchildren are on Facebook so I can keep up with their activities.

I’m looking through the names of the varsity football team who played that fall and see a number of people on Facebook or local e-mail lists, some deceased (Jim Mongan, Phil Egan, Gerald Blake, Stan Messer, Don Satterfield, Pete Smith), and some who seemed to have dropped out of sight. The junior class that fall presented “One Foot in Heaven” on Friday, November 19. I see Bill Allenfort, who is still active in community theater getting a beard.

And there’s the student council learning the basics of representative democracy with cute freshman Carol Samsel and junior Murray Trout (deceased). The Council organized all the Homecoming activities, sponsored dances and provided the concession stand. They sent delegates to district and state conventions—sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

We did have professional lyceum speakers for assembly in those days, but also our in-house thespians provided entertainment. It was a big group—I see Jerry Wallace, Harold Hanke, Mike Balluff, Joyce Kinsley, Connie Frey, Sally Olsen, all of whom are on Facebook.

The fall of 1954. It was warm, and so are the memories.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Fortieth reunion, 1997

Digging around in a box today, I found this article about our 1997 reunion. If I've already posted it, well, who would remember?  Certainly not me.  I tried to post it on Mike's FaceBook class site, but my 9 year old computer is having a struggle with FB.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Band memories from high school

On Facebook at Mike's wall for MMHS classmates, I asked about band memories and who continued with their music and got some good ones from our era. I'm adding them here, or they will be lost. The memories went all the way back to Beth Amsrud (d. 1997 at 89), who was sort of a circuit music teacher, covering many small districts.

Mike wrote: “I played the clarinet right next to Eddie Gruen. Frannie Kitzmiller was squeaking right behind me. We both squeaked our way into retirement. I was late to a basketball game where the band was playing and Beth Amsrud told me not to come back. Don't think I was too disappointed.” 

Jon wrote: "I played the drums as most of you will remember. I started taking lessons in Rockford when I was in 4th grade. I believe I got to start playing in the High School band later in 5th grade. I believe Sylvia and I were the first ones in our class to play in The Kable Band. After high school I pretty much quit playing.  I won contest awards I believe four times in solo drums and then we did a quartet I believe once or twice. It was so long ago I do not remember all of the details. I am sure Sylvia won as well as several others that went to contest. One of the fun things we did was to put together the top people in each section of the band and combine it with the same from all bands in the conference. We practiced all afternoon along with top individuals from the HS choirs. We then did a performance that evening for the parents. That was a really fun day for me. I still love music." [I think Jon is referring to the Blackhawk Music Festival.]

Sylvia wrote: "Jon Martin and I played in the Kable Band under J.J. Richards in 1954. He received a check at the end of the season for $13.15. Me...I only got $8.85. (I think I had another job, or was at Camp some weeks.). It was a privilege to play for Richards. He was a well-known conductor, next to Sousa. Richards performed and conducted in the Ringling Circus Band.

My first band experience was with "No-nonsense" Beth Amsrud. Was thrilled to play in the high school band with Nancy Thomas Brinker, Joy Edwards, and Mike Miller. On to Manchester College band. Great flute section and flute friends there. Back to MM to Kable band, then onto Maryland. Played in Rockville Community Band. Many retired outstanding service band members. Great band. Played. Evening concert outside the Kennedy Center in DC.

Back to MM and Kable Band. Also, fun playing in Pit orchestra for Pag performances. And for the last 6 years, I've traveled to Sarasota, FL, to play with the Windjammers. (A group that plays circus music.) So thanks to all conductors, "encouragers", etc. It's been a fun just never know where music will take you. (Tell your kids that! They won't be sorry.) Thanks again to both Reckmeyers and other conductors.  I wouldn't have changed one minute.

Other class members in the Kable band according to old payroll records (which Sylvia has) were Salley Olsen, Darlene Holverson, Dwayne Zipse, and Nelson Potter.

According to a 1955 program I have, other class members in the high school band were Lynne F., Nancy L., Sharon R., Sara Y. and Priscilla D.

 I (Norma) played trombone with Mr. Johnson and Mr. Reckmeyer in high school. I had started the bassoon in elementary school and hated it, picked up my brother's trombone one day and never gave it back. It's not an instrument you take to a party, and I think I sold it around 1967 when we moved to Columbus. My husband bought me one for my 50th birthday as well as hiring a trombonist to come to the house and play for me. But it was too late . . . 

I looked up Mrs. Amsrud’s obituary, and she died in 1997 at 89. "Beth began her career in 1929 teaching band in the following schools: Chadwick, Thomson, Cordova, Elizabeth, Orangeville, Mount Morris, Byron, Oregon, and Forreston, where she started teaching full time in 1951. She retired in 1964 after 37 years." I had her in Forreston because she also did the school wide musicals that included the elementary kids. It's amazing she could remember not only what town she was in, but our names. It's in my memory she also had the little one room rural schools and folded them in when we had large events.