Marjorie and George Egger, left, sit with their daughter Adriene Egger, right, as they look at the shirt George received after flying an airplane solo in 1992.

George W. Egger, 83, and his wife, Marjorie, 84, of Danville have raised eight children and put them all through college, but they still have the energy to “go green” in their daily lives.

And along with their daughter Adriene Egger, who lives with them, they have learned to help save the environment through some unique practices.

For example, Marjorie has found a creative way to recycle those plastic shopping bags from the grocery store. She cuts the bags into thin strips, ties their ends together and rolls them into a ball. Next, she single-crochets them into a very stylish brim hat that resembles a fishing hat. The red and blue writing on the bags gives the hat an attractive random pattern of red and blue splotches.

Marjorie has made several hats that have garnered a lot of attention from both friends and strangers.

“People are always asking me if I will crochet them a hat just like George’s,” Marjorie said. “But it takes me so many hours to make a hat, especially since I don’t use a pattern, that I have to turn them down.”

Marjorie can get 16 thin strips from one regular size plastic grocery bag, and it takes at least 100 plastic bags to make one hat.

Marjorie also uses her creative skills to make potholders for the kitchen by crocheting over the plastic lids from coffee cans. “Mom even gives them as gifts,” Adriene said, “and people seem to love them.”

Marjorie and George drive a hybrid Camry that they purchased last October, which averages 38.7 miles to a gallon on the highway and 30 miles per gallon in the city.

Both George and Adriene are adept at the computer, making their own greeting cards, fliers and programs. They conserve paper by using both sides when printing an e-mail or documents for their own use.

They also return some of their plastic grocery bags that they haven’t used for hats or garbage bags to the stores, and they save the rubber bands off their newspapers and return them to the newspaper carrier.

“When we lived in Palatine, George dug up our whole yard and made it into a vegetable garden,” Marjorie said. Now that they own a villa in Liberty Village, the family has a plot with a couple of tomato and hot pepper plants. “Just enough for the three of us,” George said.

The Eggers conserve water by using buckets to capture the cold water that comes out of the shower before it gets hot enough to jump in. “We use this water for anything that doesn’t require hot water,” George said.

They also have a couple of tips to extend the life of their bar soap. They save the soap wrappers and place them in their dresser drawers to give a fresh smell. Marjorie also grates the small pieces of leftover soap and puts them into the washing machine along with the detergent.

Adriene said, “I have a lot of health problems, so I have a lot of empty medicine bottles.” She uses some of them to store the paint for her model horses, which is one of her hobbies. She also stores medical and other supplies in these bottles.

The Eggers moved from Palatine to Danville in 1988 after George retired from his job as an engineer in the electroplating business. George’s sister, the late Eileen F. Farrell, and her family already lived in Danville at the time, and wooed them to the area with the prospect of many cultural events here as well as the Vermilion County Airport — because George was already interested in flying and airplanes.

Farrell served as head of the math and science department at Danville Area Community College from 1966 to 1980.

The Eggers have known each other since the sixth grade, which they attended in their hometown of Columbus, Ohio, but they started dating only when they were juniors in high school. George served for 2½ years in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and they married in 1946.

To earn a living while George was getting his degree at Ohio State University, the couple took on some interesting jobs. Marjorie worked as a bookkeeper for awhile. They also took, developed and printed wedding photographs.

“Marjorie would position the wedding party just right,” George said, “and I would snap the picture.” And as a team, the Eggers sold thousands of photographs to newlyweds.

When the couple moved to the Chicago area in 1953, they had already started their large family of six girls and two boys. One of their children, Andrea Egger, died last year at age 39. By this time she had already published a hardcover true-crime book based on some of her personal experiences as an award-winning investigative journalist. The other siblings live in various states, including Utah, Texas, Kansas and Illinois.

At age 67, George fulfilled his lifelong dream — to get his private pilot’s license.

“I just pray each and every time he’s up in the air,” Marjorie said. “I know he loves it, but I’ll never get over worrying about George when he’s flying.”

Adriene said, “I was so thrilled when Dad got his license, because he always wanted to fly. He’s always encouraged us to follow our dreams, so why shouldn’t he?”

When George had a heart pacemaker inserted two years ago he was required to downgrade his pilot’s license to that of sports pilot. “The sports planes are only two-seaters, and they’re lighter planes,” he said, “but I can still have a lot of fun with them.

“My sister, Eileen, was always one of my best passengers,” George said. “She was always ready to go for a ride with me.” George said his only near accident was when he blew a cylinder right after take-off from the Paxton airport. He made a quick turn-around, forcing an emergency landing back at the airport.

“As you would expect, Eileen came back with a wisecrack after that experience,” George said. She asked him, “Now what can we do this afternoon for excitement?”

And to this day, George still makes regular drives to Coles County Airport in Mattoon, along with a friend. He rents a sports plane there, and the two of them take short flying trips in the area.

The Eggers attend Mass regularly at St. Paul’s Catholic Church, and they truly believe in the power of prayer. “Each evening before dinner we go through our very long prayer list,” Adriene said, “and sometimes our food gets cold before we even start to eat.

“We feel that we’ve been blessed with a lot of good things in our lives,” she added, “and we definitely believe that prayer can bring about good things — and even miracles once in a while. But those stories are for another time.”

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