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Karen E. Steffes, 78

Karen E. Steffes,78, Elizabeth, sadly left us on February 29, 2024. She was the daughter of the late Dale and Doris Westaby. Surviving is her son Dennis (Jane), granddaughter Darcy (Austin) Ertmer. Sisters Sandra (Kenneth) Groezinger, Mary (Rod) Reimers, and many nieces and nephews.

She was the kindness mother and grandmother. She loved sports and never missed a volleyball, basketball, or softball game. She was proud of her farm and her family and always supported them. Her smile will be missed by her many friends.

Dairy farming was her life. She passed her love of animals onto her family. Christmas was her favorite time of year. She always remembered to bake everyone's favorite treat. She looked forward to decorating and setting up her Christmas village.

Anyone that worked on the farm for her she treated as family. Everyone looked forward to her many treats and Sunday morning egg sandwiches. The family would like to thank Freeport Memorial Hospital and hospice.

The funeral service was held on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at St. John Lutheran Church of Massbach at 10:30 a.m. There was a visitation at the Hermann Funeral Home in Stockton on Monday, March 4. Interment will take place at Woodbine Cemetery. A memorial fund has been established. Condolences may be shared at http://www.hermannfuneralhome.com.


William John Durst, 80

William John Durst, age 80, of Savanna, IL, passed away on February 27, 2024. A funeral Mass was held at 11 a.m. on Monday, March 4, 2024 at St. Mary’s of Lourdes Catholic Church in rural Metamora, IL. Visitation took place one hour prior to Mass, at the church. Cremation rites will follow, with burial on a later date. Memorials may be made to St. Vincent de Paul society/charity for the poor at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Peoria Heights, Illinois or St. Mary of Lourdes Catholic Church in Germantown Hills, Illinois.

Bill was born August 1, 1943, in Ottawa, IL, the son of Milton and Mona (Regele) Durst. Growing up in Germantown Hills, IL, he attended local schools, graduating from Metamora High School. Bill then earned his bachelor’s degree at Bradley University, and his master’s degree in education administration at Illinois State University.

Bill served his community as a teacher in Creve Coeur, Pekin, and Aurora, respectively, before entering into insurance sales. He worked for Farmers Insurance for more than 30 years. Never one to put all his eggs in one basket, Bill owned several rental properties throughout his life, and owned a candy store in Naperville, IL for nearly a decade. That candy store, The Chocolate Key, wound up being Bill’s favorite business venture. He was proud to offer fun employment opportunities for local high school and college students, and loved the joy surrounding that business; who isn’t happy when they’re buying candy! As Bill entered retirement age around 2010, he moved to Savanna, IL, where he bought the downtown building currently housing the Sunshine Café.

In his down time, Bill enjoyed trying new restaurants as a self-proclaimed food critic, and spent many hours improving his homemade pizzas. Every ingredient needed to be perfected through trial and error. He also loved boating, fishing, collecting old cars, and of course spending time with his beloved daughters and grandchildren. He was a talented musician who initially taught himself to play piano on a cardboard keyboard, he made for himself. He also composed music, and played at many venues throughout his life, including Shaky’s Pizza, in Peoria, IL, and supper clubs in Aurora and Naperville, and was even able to meet Frank Sinatra in an intimate setting. Bill was the type of person who never met a stranger. He had a way of making you feel special and appreciated in every interaction, and made a habit of helping people in secretive ways.

Bill will be dearly missed by his two daughters, Amy (Tony) Gutzwiller, of Batesville, IN and Jody Daily, of Gulf Breeze, FL; nine grandchildren, Marissa (Jordan) Pliska, Ian Daily, William Gutzwiller, Morgan Daily, Lauren Gutzwiller, Emma Daily, Grace Gutzwiller, Gianna Daily, Mikaela Gutzwiller; siblings, Tom (Karen) Durst and Janeen (Mike) Zimmerman; and dear friend, Sandra Curnutt. Bill is preceded in death by his parents, Milton and Mona.


Virgil J. Swanson, 70

Virgil J. Swanson, of Lanark, IL, passed away Wednesday, February 28, at FHN Memorial Hospital in Freeport, IL. A private family graveside service will be held. Burial will be in Lanark Cemetery.

Virgil was born May 25, 1953, son of Charles and Dagmar (Dolby) Swanson. He grew up on the family farm, and attended Crystal Lake High School, graduating with the class of 1971. At the age of 14 Virgil took over the farm and worked it on his own until he moved to Lanark in 1974. Soon after Virgil met the love of his life, Wendy Burmeister, after calling the wrong number. Wendy picked up the phone, and the rest was history. Virgil and Wendy married on April 26, 1975. Together they raised two sons and celebrated 49 years of marriage.

Virgil’s life was marked by hard work and commitment to his family. His life was farming and milking cows for 32 years. Virgil wasn’t happy unless there was work to do, and there always was. His one hobby was flying his plane which he kept on the farm. In 1982 the Swanson’s built a runway on the property. Virgil would often take Wendy in the plane to visit friends and family in Crystal Lake.

The heart of Virgil’s life was his family. He was a proud husband, father, and grandfather. He was honest to a fault, and told it how he saw it. Virgil taught his boys responsibility and how to take care of business. His lessons on life live through those he loved most.

Virgil will be dearly missed by his wife, Wendy Swanson of Lanark; two sons, Ben (Samantha) Swanson of Forreston, IL, and Barry Swanson of Janesville, WI; step-granddaughter Laci (Adam) Gruendler of Pecatonica, IL; and grandson Corporal Jacob M. Swanson of Camp Lejeune, NC. Virgil is preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Dagmar.


Joseph Samuel Smeck, 81

Joseph Samuel Smeck 81, of Lena, IL passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, March 2, 2024, with his family by his side. Joe was born December 16, 1942, in Lena, IL, to Joe and Dorothy (Klinger) Smeck. He attended Lena Winslow High School and moved to Chicago shortly after graduation where he attended Barber School. At the age of 22 he enlisted in the US Army where he would go on to serve his country as a First Calvary Military Police being stationed in Germany and in the Vietnam War. When he returned home, he worked as a barber in Chicago and he met his wife, Ruth Jurdzy. They got married on April 12, 1969, in Freeport.

Shortly after they got married, he took a job at WMAQ & WKQX Radio as a Studio/Field Engineer operating the sound boards for air talent. He transitioned to a job with NBC Sports which took him all over the country and world. He was a key member of the audio crew from setting up everything related to the sound - inside the stadiums to driving the 18 wheel mobile trucks from city to city. He worked at about every sports event one can think of and had the opportunity to go to the Olympics games in Montreal, Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Australia. Later he transitioned to Channel 5 in Chicago and was the lead operator of the satellite truck as well as a news photographer. This led to multiple Emmy awards for his work. He retired in 2004 and dedicated his time back to Lena to live on the farm with his Charolais beef cattle.

He had a great sense of humor and was a collector of all things, loved his bargains and bulk buying, enjoyed his pet cats, farming and traveling. He was always on the go. His favorite saying was “Let’s take a ride” and you know you would get the full tri state tour.

He is survived by his children- Julie (John) Carlucci of Arlington Heights, IL and Joseph (Danielle Bonebright) Smeck Jr. of Lena, IL; 6 grandchildren- J.J., Michael, Nicholas, Mia, Madilyn, and Grace; girlfriend- Linda Vick and her son Zachary (Taylor Carter) Vick.

He was preceded in death by his Parents; wife Ruth in 2004; and numerous family and friends.

A visitation was held on Sunday, March 10, 2024, from 12:00-4:00 p.m. at the Leamon Funeral Home in Lena. A Funeral Service was held on Monday, March 11, 2024, at 10:30 a.m. at the Leamon Funeral Home in Lena. Burial will take place at Waddams Grove Cemetery. Faye Darnall officiated the service.

In lieu of flowers a memorial has been established in his name. Condolences may be sent to the family at http://www.leamonfh.com

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