Elizabeth Ann Wells, age 92, died peacefully on October 31, 2016 at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Effingham, IL.
Born Elizabeth Ann Foss on June 21, 1924 in Bridgeport, IL, Ann made her home in St. Joseph, IL for fifty years. She worked for Dr. Bardeen & Dr. Slichter in the University of Illinois’ Physics Department before retiring in the 1990’s.
The eldest of five children born to James & Cecil Foss, Ann is survived by her sister Phyllis Smith of Florida and her brother James Foss (Barbara) of Maryland. She was preceded in death by her sister Jeane Howard, brother William “Bill” Foss, and beloved son-in-law Allen Satterfield.
Ann had three daughters with her former husband, Richard Wells, and was a beautifully loving mother. Her girls, Lucy Dorene Allis (Michael) of Effingham, Merry Sharon Satterfield (Allen) of Champaign and Melinda Kay Mabry (Frank) of Cornwall-On-Hudson, NY, all survive. Childhood memories of Pendleton skirts, black mary janes, Green Rivers, and hot dog sandwiches wrapped in foil at drive-in movies made way for true friendship as they all aged together, and the girls spent untold hours together talking with, laughing with, and simply being near their mom. Those conversations continue, differently now.
“Grams” or “Grandma” to her family and most family friends, she was our beloved one, matriarch, trusted counsel, and confidant.
She crocheted our children’s first blankies (including a certain well-loved BoBo) and rocked the babies in her practiced arms, loving each for themselves. Grams held us, no matter our age, sat vigil with us, cared for us while we convalesced, and created a home that was a sanctuary for her family.
Some memories of Grams’ house are shared by us all, some are ours individually: The elephant plant stand at the door, the bird collection on the hutch, candies from the amber cut glass dish, and pictures of all of us everywhere. Together, we tended the bird feeders and flower beds, and grilled on the backyard deck we designed and built for her 75th birthday. Some of us remember swinging from the willow and apple trees, now long gone, and chasing fireflies in the yard for the jars she made us with knife-holed lids. Surely every one of us climbed the nearby rock pile knowing full well she’d spray us head-to-toe with the hose before we’d be allowed back inside.
Grams was unstoppable and unflappable. She walked the perimeter of St. Joe each morning for many years. Her longtime physician kept a framed photo in his office of her parasailing with her granddaughter on a trip to Riviera Maya at age 82. She traveled frequently throughout her life, often with her friend Mary Jane and sister Phyllis, on countless impromptu road trips (made faster by Grams’ lead foot), or longer vacations to Sanibel Island, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, numerous islands, and frequently to her sister’s in Lakeland.
Grams loved sports and was an avid Illini fan and a lifelong Cardinals fan. Days before her death she joked with the Cubs fans among us, agreeing to root on our behalf (“Well, it’s about time they did something.”) and we’re pretty sure it was her final blessing that brought home the big W.
Patient, kind, careful, and generous, we learned a lot just being near Grams: Always carry Certs in your purse, as well as a packet of Kleenex. Wear pantyhose, whether they’re in style or not (and they are always in style). Do the crossword every day—on paper, in pen. Paint your nails. Go to the library. Read everything. Take time to take the grandkids to the toy store or lunch at Jolly Roger’s. Put down your phone. Go to the full service station. Start playing Scrabble, UNO or Chinese checkers with the wee ones before they understand the game. And let them win (but not very often). Be there to pick out prom and wedding dresses, school clothes or supplies. Sit still. Listen. Love. Watch all the baseball, so long as it’s the Cardinals. We could go on forever.
Grams’ legacy of love, strength and resilience carries on in her grandchildren, Samantha Toral (Tony Filardi), Rex Shaw (Sheri), Lisa Meid (Christopher Young), Michael “Tony” Shaw (Lisa), Brian Bialeschki, Rachel Bialeschki, Sarah Foss, and Brandon Satterfield (Alex Thompson).
“We’re going to Grams’ house” was all it took to elicit a burst of excitement from her many great and great-great grandchildren, among them Lindsay Ronk, Ryan Toral, Samuel “Sam” Toral, Cameron Shaw, Madison Shaw, Danielle Almaraz (Antonio), Justin Meid, Katherine “Kate” Meid, Michael Young, Arbella Almaraz, Selene Almaraz, Emilio “Emi” Almaraz, Tyler Stewart (Bridget), William “Billy” Stevenson (Chelsea), Bethany Seefeldt (Braden), Adrian Stewart, Braxton & Beaux, Brendan Wells, Nicholas Wells, and Courtney Paulter.
Our family is grateful for the love and care shown to Grams by Mary Aguilera, Trish & the staff from Brookstone Estates, and the nurses, doctors, and staff at St. Anthony’s. Thank you.
A private memorial will be held for family and close friends. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to be used for a memorial project at Kolb park, named after Ann’s friend and physician Dr. Kolb and near her home, where generations of grandchildren spent hours playing with their Grams.
Memorial donations can be directed to: Ann Wells Trust, 613 Erin Drive, Champaign, IL 61822.