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Wieland “Willie” J. Kayser, 96

Wieland “Willie” J. Kayser, 96, of Lena, IL passed away peacefully, with his daughter holding his hand on Sunday, March 10, 2024. Willie was born on April 2, 1927 in Hockenheim German to Wilhem and Katherina (Auer) Kayser. At four years old, Willie moved to New York with his parents. While in New York, Willie began his meat cutting career at a local grocery store.

At the age of 18, Willie was drafted into the United States Army/ Air Force. In the military, he was able to continue working on his meat cutting. In 1947, Willie married the love of his life, Esther Schafer, in Lena, Illinois. In 1952, Willie started his on the farm slaughter service, in 1955 he built the butchering plant, and in 1967, added a major expansion to handle the growing business. Esther and Willie received many awards over the years. In 1993, they retired from Lena Maid Meats.

Willie was very active in his community. He was a volunteer firefighter and a chief for seven years, past president of the Lena Business and Professional Associated, Lena Historical Society, and Illinois Association of Meat Processors. Willie was also a current member of AAMP, IAMP, and WAMP, local Pork Producers Association, and Beef Producers Association. He was a past member of the Advisory Council to local school and co-op programs.

Willie was a current member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. In Willie’s earlier years, he was in the church choir, and church council. He was also a past president of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church council.

Willie is survived by his daughter; Kathy Clay, son-in-law; James Clay, grandchildren; Jacob Clay, Elizabeth Clay, Matthew (Sarah) Clay, and Rachel (Nathan Lott) Clay, a great-grandson; Logan Clay, brother; Karl Kayser, brother-in-law Henry Reichardt, and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Esther in 2010, son Michael Wesley Kayser in 1978, brother Paul Kayser, and two sisters; Barbara Reichardt, and Erika Prygocki.

Funeral services were held at 10:30 AM on Saturday, March 16, 2024 at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Lena. A visitation was held from 4:00-7:00 PM on Friday, March 15, 2024 at Leamon Funeral Home in Lena. Burial was at Lena Burial Park in Lena. Pastor Thomas Mosbo officiated the services.

A memorial has been established in his memory for the Lena Area Historical Society. Condolences may be sent to the family at http://www.leamonfh.com.

Pauline (Buss) Lutz, 99

Pauline (Buss) Lutz, passed away on Wednesday March 13, 2024 at the age of 99. She was born on May 7, 1924 in Lena, the daughter of Allen and Edna (Woodley) Buss. On July 8, 1943 she was united in marriage with Melvin Lutz. After farming for many years near Winslow, they retired to Lena in 1982. Melvin passed away in 1994 and she filled that void by joining several organizations. She was an active member of Lena Women’s Club, Home Extension, Sorority, card clubs and the Lena United Methodist Church. In addition, she was an avid basketball fan of the Le-Win Panthers and the Chicago Bulls. As a loving mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother she always enjoyed the many family activities.

Surviving are her son Craig Lutz of Chicago, and daughter Connie (Bill) Nelsen of Elgin; three grandchildren: Chad (Adrienne) Nelsen of Iowa, Krisha (Matthew) Yob, and Kendra (Eric) Smentowski both of Mt Prospect; seven great-grandchildren: Blake and Mason Nelsen, Jacob, Ella, and Taylor Yob, Calla and Sage Smentowski, and sister-in-law Diane Buss.

She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, and brother Duane Buss.

Funeral services were held at 1:00 PM on Saturday, March 16, 2024 at the Lena United Methodist Church. A visitation was from 12:00 PM until time of services on Saturday, March 16, 2024 at the church. Burial will be at Lena Burial Park. Pastor Melwyn Alagodi officiated the services.

A memorial has been established in her memory. Condolences may be sent to the family at http://www.leamonfh.com.

Duane E. Lotz, 88

Duane E. Lotz, age 88 of Lena, IL, passed away peacefully at Liberty Village in Freeport, IL surrounded by his family on March 19, 2024. He was born on April 9, 1935, in Freeport, IL the son of Leo and Kathryn (Stitzel) Lotz. Duane married Jo Ann Bares on September 11, 1954, at Cherry Grove Church of the Brethren in Lanark.

Duane owned and operated Winslow TV for 27 years and loved serving his community. He owned his own airplane and enjoyed flying as well as playing basketball and golf. He also enjoyed a good card game. Duane loved attending his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren’s sporting events. He was an avid Chicago Bears or Chicago White Sox’s fan. For 30 years Duane and Jo Ann lived in Las Vegas and during his time there he worked at the Imperial Palace Casino.

He was a former member of the Winslow Town Board and Winslow Fire Department, as well as a long-time member of the St John’s Lutheran Church.

Duane is survived by his wife Jo Ann of Lena; children- Steve (Julie) Lotz of Lena, John Lotz of Bremerton, WA, Lizabeth “Betsy” (Michael) Kopko of Ottawa, IL; grandchildren- Susan (Ryan) Amendt, Melissa (Jessie) Smith, Lilly Lotz, John “JJ” Lotz, Kyle Burnett, Angela (Ian) Cordero, and Amanda Burnett; great-grandchildren- Max and Molly Amendt, Owen Smith and Oliver Cordero; brother- Arthur Lotz of Indianapolis, IN; and sister- Marilee (Walter) Gilliland of Fort Wayne, IN.

He is preceded in death by his parents.

The family would like to thank Dr. Richard Bell and Staff at FHN and Manor Court staff for their excellent care.

A private family funeral service will be held at a later date. Cremation rites have been accorded.

Condolences may be sent to the family at http://www.leamonfh.com

Pearl City

Donna Lee (Johnson) Musser, 89

Donna Lee (Johnson) Musser passed away March 15, 2024 at Liberty Village in Freeport, IL, where she had been a resident since July of 2020. She was born May 10, 1934 to John & Esther (Koertner) Johnson. She graduated from Pearl City High School in 1952. Donna married Kenneth Musser on October 4, 1953 in what is now Zion Community Church in Pearl City; they celebrated 66 years of marriage.

She was a life-long member of Zion Community Church where she helped start the famous Swiss Steak Supper, held various leadership roles, taught Sunday School, played the piano, and sang. She was an election judge at Pearl City for decades. She was a long-time member of the Pearl City American Legion Auxiliary; she helped with poppy sales, monthly suppers, and held numerous leadership roles. Donna was well known for her pies and baked goods, being the Avon Lady for over 60 years, and was an avid knitter. She loved to exhibit at local fairs, you would often find her name under “Best of Show”; she would exhibit: canned goods, baked goods, and her knitting. She enjoyed feeding everyone, but especially her grandchildren.

Married to a farmer, she was a dutiful farm wife. She tended a massive garden, cleaned the milk tanks, and did other duties around the farm. Once they moved off the farm into town, the couple enjoyed the socialness that town living brought them: regular after-school visits from their grandchildren, watching the traffic, and visiting with friends and neighbors that stopped by. Donna was all about the social: you would find her at grandchildren’s sporting events, local community events, county fairs, and sitting out on her deck.

Donna is preceded in death by her husband, Kenneth; parents John and Esther; her siblings Karl (Elaine) Johnson, Morrell (Betty) Johnson, Eileen (Robert) Eaglin, Jean (Dale) Wingert, and her son-in-law Edwin Curry.

She is survived by her son: James (Denise) Musser; daughters: Barbara Curry and Leslie Musser. Grandchildren: Joel, Darin (Shannon), Brett (Aubrey), Courtney, Brock (Kim) Musser, Kerstin Curry (Cal Reiger), Morgan (Keagan) Blasing, and Grant Curry (Hannah Krahn). She is also survived by her great grandchildren: Drake, Brea, Charlotte, Gemma, Shea, Sawyer, Levi, and Tobias Musser, Brixtin and Layla Blasing, and Kasey Curry.

The family would like to thank the staff and residents of Liberty Village for taking great care of her and embracing Donna’s last years. In addition, we would like to extend a thank you to Hospice for their care and compassion over the last several months.

Funeral service was held on Friday, March 22, 2024 at 10:30 a.m. at Zion Community Church in Pearl City. There was a visitation on Thursday, March 21, 2024 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. also at the church. Interment will take place at Oakland Mausoleum in Freeport. A memorial fund has been established. Condolences may be shared at http://www.hermannfuneralhome.com.


Jeffrey Alan Forsythe, 75

Jeffrey Alan Forsythe, age 75 of Rockford, IL, formerly of Freeport, IL, passed away at Forest City Rehab in Rockford on March 8, 2024. He was born October 7, 1948; the son of William and Pauline (Ross) Forsythe. Jeffrey was a 1966 graduate of Freeport High School. He served in the United States Navy during Vietnam. After returning home he attended Highland Community College where he received his Associates Degree.

He worked at Second Time Around Record Store, Meals on Wheels, and drove School Bus for Immanuel Lutheran School. Jeffrey enjoyed golfing, bowling, and playing euchre.

He is survived by his sons, Jonathan (Crystal) Forsythe of Cary, IL and Jared Forsythe of Freeport, IL; grandchildren, Shelya (15), Bryan (12), Jacob (8), and Jayden (3); and cousins, Sarah (Mason) and Panda Morgan of Herefordshire, England, Steve Mason of Cedarville, IL, John (Kathleen) Mason of Ridott, IL, Bill (Robin) Mason of Wausau, WI, Penny Ross of Texas, and Claudia Ross Lynott and children Sean & Whitney of California. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, David Forsythe.

A memorial service was held on Saturday, March 16, 2024 at 2:00 p.m. at Walker Mortuary in Freeport; the Rev. Dr. Willis R. Schwichtenberg and Rev. Zachary Klatt presided. There was a visitation before the service beginning at 1:00 p.m. Interment will take place at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens in Freeport.

A memorial fund has been established in his name. Condolences may be shared at http://www.walkermortuary.com.


Diane B. Wills, 71

Diane B. Wills, age 71 of Warren passed away Saturday, March 16, 2024 at home surrounded by her loving family. She was born on September 11, 1952 to John and Lillie Redington. She married the love of her life James Wills on April 29, 1978 in Warren, Illinois at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

Diane graduated from Warren High School and worked for Micro Switch. She had a love for golf, watching grandkids play sports, gourd making, collecting Longaberger and rusty yard art. She was also entertained by watching all the wildlife out her back window.

Survived by her husband, James Wills, and their three children Michelle (Kip) Raab of Warren, IL, Ryan (Ashley) Wills of Warren, IL, and Kimberly (Shawn) Saunders of Apple River, IL. She had 9 grandchildren: Brady (Ashley)Raab, Emily and Lane Raab, Addey and Ayla Wills, Tyler (Madysen) Saunders, Brayden, Carsyn and Kyron Saunders. She is also survived by her sister-in-law Hildi Redington, sister-in-law Donna (Bill) Miller, and Richard (Mary) Wills. And her favorite canine, Holly.

She is preceded in death by her parents John and Lillie Redington, her brother Larry Redington, her father-in-law Wilbur Wills, mother-in-law Alice Wills, sister-in-law Rosie Wills, and her beloved pets.

The visitation was at Bartell- Leamon Funeral Home in Warren, Tuesday, March 19th, 2024 from 4-7pm followed by a service on Wednesday, March 20th, 2024 at 11am with a visitation from 10am until the time of service, at the funeral home. A private family burial will follow the service at Scales Mound Township Cemetery in Scales Mound.

The family would like to give a special thanks to Warren Area Ambulance Service and Warren and Stockton Police Departments.

A memorial fund has been established in her memory. Condolences may be sent to the family at http://www.leamonfh.com.

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