Eleanor “Jean” Deeken Alexis, 93, of Danville, passed away at 9:35 p.m. on April 6, 2013, at Colonial Manor Nursing Home in Danville.
She was born on Oct. 10, 1919, in Danville, the daughter of Henry and Ella (Stuck) Deeken.
Surviving her are her best friend and longtime companion, Gerry Lawrence, who cared vigilantly for her throughout her later years; one son, Peter (Caren) Alexis of Dallas, Texas; two grandsons, Jonathan (Natalie) Alexis of Dallas, Texas, and Matthew (Davis) Alexis of New York, N.Y.; and numerous nieces and nephews, all of whom she loved dearly.
Jean was preceded in death by her parents; two brothers, Carl and John; and seven sisters, Alma, Beulah, Dawn, Dorothy, Francis, Emma, Mary; and another close friend of more than 50 years, Ruth Gruelle Harding.
She attended Lincoln School and graduated from Danville High School in 1937. For 37 years she was an employee of Illinois Bell Telephone Company in Danville. She served as group chief operator prior to her retirement in 1978.
Her memberships include: the Telephone Pioneers of America, the Columbus Club, the Turtle Club and the Oaklawn Improvement Neighborhood Group. She was a member of Holy Family Catholic Church.
An avid sports fan, she supported the football and basketball programs at the University of Illinois. For a number of years dating back to the 1960s, she held season tickets to the Illini football games. She was proud to have attended the first University of Illinois basketball game at Assembly Hall on March 4, 1963. Additionally, she was a lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears. Her other hobbies included playing golf, reading, travel, gardening and bowling.
For more than 20 years, she hosted in her home the annual Deeken family Christmas celebration, a daylong event that drew large numbers of relatives. Known for her quick wit and easy laugh, she delighted in activities with family and friends. She held all her friends very close to her heart. She was a devoted mother and grandmother.
A committed animal lover and rescuer, she owned and saved many dogs, cats and birds. Most recently her beloved dogs were Maggie and Happy. She could name most of the pets that she owned in her life, going back to Teddy, the first dog she helped raise in the 1920s.
A celebration of Jean’s life will begin at 10 a.m. Friday, April 12, at Sunset Funeral Home and Cremation Center, A Life Celebration Home, in Danville, with Fr. Ted Pracz officiating. A visitation will 4-7 p.m. Thursday, April 11, at the funeral home, with a rosary at 3:30 p.m. Burial will take place at Sunset Memorial Park.
Memorials can be made in Jean’s name to the Columbus Club of the Knights of Columbus, 310 Bryan Ave., Danville, IL 61832.
Please join Jean’s family in sharing photos, videos and memories of her through her Tribute Wall at www.sunsetfuneralhome.com.