Mary Catherine Slagel Collier, age 87, of Sherman, Illinois, departed this earthly life on Thursday, August 27, 2020.
She was preceded in death by a son, Michael Collier, in 2004, and a younger brother, Wayne Slagel, in 2012.
Mary is survived by her four children, Patrick (Gillian Hearst) Collier of Corvallis, OR, Cynthia (Kirk) Laudeman of Sherman, Kimberly Collier of Sarasota, FL, and Mary Christine (Eric) Tober of Dublin, OH; daughter-in-law, Mary Elizabeth Collier of Manteno; brother, Samuel Slagel of Collinsville, sister, Janice Slagel Gieser of Hemet, CA; and sister-in-law, Carolyn Slagel of Manteno; as well as 15 grandchildren; 7 great-grandchildren; and many loved nieces and nephews.
Mary was born on November 17, 1932, in Panama, the eldest daughter of Howard and Bessie Beckham Slagel. She graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1950 and attended Blackburn College in Carlinville, IL. She later graduated from Governors State University where she studied political science.
At 18 years of age, Mary moved from rural Bond County to the big city of Springfield where she secured a secretarial position with AT&T. She went on to work in a variety of positions while continuing her education. In 1977, Mary accepted a position as Volunteer Services Coordinator for Manteno Mental Health Center, and later, Howe Developmental Center, a role for which her servant’s heart was perfectly suited. During her tenure as a Volunteer Services Coordinator, Mary received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Long Term Care and the Director’s Award for Outstanding Achievement, as well as other acknowledgments for the exemplary care she provided to individuals with special needs through her legion of volunteers.
Throughout her life, Mary actively sought opportunities for community engagement. She served as Secretary of the DuPage County League of Women Voters, President of the Butterfield Elementary School Parent Teacher Association, and as a Den Leader for the Boy Scouts of America. She volunteered for the American Cancer Society, transporting patients in need of treatment, and was actively involved in Christian Women Connection and First United Methodist Church in Springfield, where she was a member.
Mary had an incredible green thumb, filling her home with plants and yard with flowers each spring. She loved to travel, spending multiple winters in Hawaii. Mary loved to acknowledge the special events in others’ lives. She sent greeting cards, with a personal note, acknowledging more than 100 birthdays and wedding anniversaries of loved ones each year. And Mary loved to dance, especially at her grandchildren’s weddings. No one song drew her to the dance floor with greater enthusiasm than “Proud Mary.”
Above all else, Mary loved spending time with her family, whom she adored. She lovingly coordinated a summer reunion for family members each year as well as a Christmas celebration for family and friends. She was an excellent cook and gatherings included homemade beef and noodles and multiple fruit cobblers enjoyed by everyone in attendance.
Even more importantly, she served as our greatest encourager, making each individual feel as if they were the favored child. She was a woman who exhibited enormous grace and kindness no matter the circumstance. We are all better individuals because she was our mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, or friend. We will miss her tremendously, but we know we will see her again.
Cremation was provided by Butler Cremation Tribute Center. A Celebration of Life service will be held at a later date.
Memorial contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church, 2941 Koke Mill Rd., Springfield, IL 62711; Panama United Methodist Church, 217 Walnut St., Panama, IL 62077; or a charity of your choice.
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To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mary (Slagel) Collier, please visit our floral store.