Mary Celeste Spenny, age 77, of rural Gerlaw, Illinois passed away at 11:30 PM Saturday, May 1, 2021 at the Aledo Health Care Center in Aledo, Illinois. Celeste was born on April 17, 1944 in Monmouth, Illinois to Frances Irene Toal. She was raised in Monmouth where she graduated from Monmouth High School in the class of 1962. She attended Monmouth College before transferring to Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois, graduating in 1968 with a degree in Special Education. Celeste began working at Galesburg State Research Hospital, later known as Galesburg Mental Health Center, as a special educator. This is where she met her future husband, John Randall Spenny. Celeste and John were married in 1968 in Monmouth. They made their home in Galesburg where they raised their son, Randall Phillip, and daughter, Kathleen Jennifer. John died on February 11, 1984. When GMHC closed Celeste continued her career as a special educator, transferring first to Zeller Mental Health in Peoria Illinois and later to Henry Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg Illinois from which she retired after a career of over 40 years with the State of Illinois.
Celeste was a talented artist who worked in many mediums but excelled in water colors, doing paintings for numerous friends and relatives over the years. She developed an interest in music early in life so her mother bought her a guitar, unusual because of its green color which was chosen to reflect her Irish heritage. She had a beautiful singing voice and as a young woman, joined Choral Dynamics and participated in their shows. She learned to do counter cross stitch, eventually designing a number of pieces. Celeste was also a voracious reader who always had a book or a Kindle in her hand or purse, ever ready to read one of her favorite murder mysteries. Friends and family will remember her for her quick wicked wit, that famous stubbornness, her ability to put everyone at ease, and her charity whenever she perceived a need.
Surviving are her son Randall, daughter-in-law Samantha, and granddaughter Raegan Kathleen of Ramona, California; step-son Mark Spenny and his wife Renee of Hanna City, Illinois; her best friend of 53 years, Wanda Carter of rural Gerlaw, Illinois; her sister-in-law Paula Spenny of Canton, Illinois, and numerous cousins. She was preceded in death by her mother Frances, husband John, daughter Kathleen, and brother-in-law Richard Spenny.
Funeral services will be held at 11 AM on Saturday, May 8, 2021, at Turnbull Funeral Home in Monmouth, Illinois. Her family will be at the funeral home for visitation from 10 AM to 11 AM just prior to the service. Interment will be in St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery. Because COVID is still a concern and because many are too far away to attend, the service will be live-streamed on the funeral home website and then will be available for 90 days by going to her obituary and clicking on the link at the bottom of the page. Memorial funds have been established for the Alzheimer's Association and the Knox County Humane Society.
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