Martha G. Patterson, aged 96, died in her South Jacksonville home on Monday, July 23, 2012, surrounded by her beloved daughter and long-time caretaker, Nancy, and her caretakers and dear granddaughters, Emily and Katie.
Martha was born in Shenandoah, Iowa, on July 8, 1916 to Elza and Myra Eaton Stealy, who preceded her in death. On February 2, 1947, she married John S. Patterson in Shenandoah, Iowa, and they were married for 49 years. He preceded her in death on July 29, 1996. Martha was also predeceased by her son-in-law, Bill Ingram, and brother-in-law, Pete O’Day, and nephew John O’Day and his wife, Jane, and sister-in-law Marian Patterson Gamble.
Martha Patterson was a teacher for nearly six decades. She began her career at aged 17 in a one-room country schoolhouse where her duties included stoking the furnace and clearing the snow. After four years of teaching in the rural schools, Martha enrolled at Tarkio College in Iowa. Upon completion, she was offered a teaching position in her hometown, where she both taught and served as principal. She left that school to earn her Bachelors Degree at Iowa State University. Following graduation she taught for several years in Davenport, Iowa. Martha spent most of her career in Jacksonville Public Schools as a teacher of Language Arts and Reading. She taught at Lafayette Elementary School, David Prince Junior High School, Turner Junior High School and Jacksonville High School. She took a four year hiatus from public school teaching when her children were born to have a private kindergarten and tutoring in her home. While she was teaching, she earned her Master of Arts degree in Reading from Western Illinois University, in 1977, where she taught Japanese students. After her retirement, she taught adult classes at night for Western Illinois University and at Jacksonville Business and Careers Institute, and at Illinois College, preparing future teachers for the career she so loved. She also returned to service District 117 for 12 years a member of the School Board. Her last assignment involved supervising student teachers for the University of Illinois at Springfield. She retired only when her health would no longer let her travel to the classrooms across Central Illinois.
During World War II, she left the classroom to help in the war effort by working in a factory that was building warplanes. She again left the classroom briefly to be a country minister in a small church.
Left to cherish her memory are two daughters: Nancy Patterson of South Jacksonville and Janet Ingram of Alsey; and Nancy’s children, Nathan (wife, Melissa) Reuck of Florissant, Missouri, Emily (husband, Devon) Hinegardner of Oneida, Josh Reuck of Orchard, Colorado, and Katie Reuck of South Jacksonville. Martha was happy when Nancy and her four children moved to share Martha’s home in South Jacksonville. She is also survived by Janet’s children, Corey Ingram of St. Louis, Missouri, Erin (husband, Jimmy) Miller of Alsey, and Scott (fiancée, Mariah Grubb) Ingram of Jacksonville; great-grandson Kayson Hinegardner and great-granddaughter Rylee Reuck and nine other great-grandchildren, Brylan Ingram, Chris, Nick, Justin, Kylie and Chrissia, and Corey, Jamie and Megan Miller. Martha’s sister, Mary O’Day, survives in Millbrook, Alabama, and Mary’s son, Peter (wife, Penny) O’Day, in Deatsville, Alabama. Wayne (wife, Rosie Joels) Gamble, another nephew, visited Martha in her home for Martha’s 96th birthday, from their home in Tullahoma, Tennessee.
Martha was a long-time member of Grace United Methodist Church, where she served in many roles, including Sunday School Superintendent. She was active in the Daughters of the American Revolution, where she served as Regent. She was also a member and served as president of Alpha Phi chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, Jacksonville Education Association, Jacksonville Woman’s Club, Retired Teachers’ Association and Eastern Star. She also wrote Chit Chat, a weekly column for the Jacksonville Journal-Courier.
Her interests included swimming, reading, knitting, traveling with friends, and attending sporting events to cheer on her grandchildren.
Martha was a devoted wife, parent, grandmother, and friend who always had a kind word, a quick mind, and a twinkle in her eye. Despite a 15 year battle with Alzheimer’s, Martha continued to read until the last year of her life. She was a lifelong reader and learner, just as she had taught hundreds of students to be.
Graveside services will be conducted by Buchanan & Cody Funeral Home in Jacksonville at 10 a.m. Monday at Diamond Grove Cemetery. The family will then host an 11 a.m. Celebration of Life service at Grace United Methodist Church, followed by a luncheon. The family asks that memorials be directed to the Rev. James Caldwell Chapter NSDAR for the restoration of the Gov. Duncan Mansion, or to the family. Condolences may be left at www.buchanancody.com.