Heath and Vaughn Funeral Home - Champaign Il

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Mary Elizabeth Eckel

Celebration of Life services for Mary Elizabeth Eckel, 100, of Champaign will be at 10 eckela.m. Monday, June 29, at Heath and Vaughn Funeral Home, 201 N. Elm St., Champaign. The Rev. Kris Light will officiate.

Visitation will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday, June 28, at the funeral home.

Mary Elizabeth Eckel died early Monday morning, June 22, 2015, at Heartland Health Care Center in Champaign from leukemia, bone marrow cancer, diagnosed the third week in May. She had been getting gradually weaker for many months, but was fairly active through most of April, remaining in her own home until May 17.

Mary Elizabeth Cress was born on May 7, 1915, in Hardin, Ky., to Lurline Hope Pace Cress and Bailey Thomas Cress. The family moved to Mayfield in 1918. She attended West Ward "Washington" school. She was active in Camp Fire Girls and was interested in nature. She joined the First Christian Church at age 10.

In Mayfield High School she was in the Glee Club and the orchestra. She graduated in 1933 and continued to take classes there for another year.

She then enrolled in Murray State Teachers College, Murray, Ky., where she earned an A.B. degree with a major in English and a minor in music, graduating in 1938. She played the violin in the orchestra, the flute in the band, and was in the A Capella Choir. She was in the English Club, Les Camarades Francais, the Vivace Club for major and minors in music, the Christian Association, the Wilsonian Society and the Westminster Fellowship.

Also she worked at jobs funded by a government program. Many comments in her yearbooks state what a very sweet and special person she was. In much more recent times, numerous people commented on how pleasant she was to talk with on the telephone.

She came to the University of Illinois to earn a degree in library science, which was awarded in 1942. Also here she met Earl Joseph Eckel (an instructor of metallurgical engineering in the Department of Mining and Metallurgy, College of Engineering), whom she married on June 18, 1942.

Soon after moving to Champaign-Urbana, she joined University Place Christian Church, where she was in the choir for decades and served and was active in numerous other ways. For several years, she was a member of the First Christian Church, then on John Street, and was in a women's Bible study group.

In the university community she enjoyed musical performances, and was active in women's groups such as Newcomers, the Gardening Club, and the Antiques and Collectibles Study Group. She started the Vagabonds, which hosted guests who presented programs about their travels.

She was a member of the Unit 4 School District PTA Mothersingers.

As a homemaker, she enjoyed cooking and baking. She also was involved in canning lots of home-grown fruit. She was always interested in nature and enjoyed flower gardening. She did everything she could to help and please her family.

The family enjoyed many summer long-distance motor car travels together, the longest being nearly to the northwest coast, then north and back through Canada.

In the late 1970s or early 1980s she and Mr. Eckel started going to many garage sales; and she continued to enjoy garage sales, estate sales and rummage sales through 2014.

She was very interested in people and caring - always kind and with a smile. She was contented and easily satisfied.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Earl Eckel, who died on June 30, 2005, at age 95, and an older sister.

She is survived by her son, Allan Douglas Eckel of Champaign, and four nephews.

Online condolences may be offered at www.HeathandVaughn.com.