Shirley Ann "Ma" Eckert, nee Frech, 89, of Belleville, Ill., born Dec. 1, 1926, in Lenzburg, Ill., died Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, at St. Paul's Home, Belleville, Ill.
Mrs. Eckert worked as a bookkeeper for the S.S. Kresge Company before her retirement. She was always involved in civic and church activities, serving as a member and past president of the Henry Raab Grade School PTA and den mother for the Cub Scouts. Shirley was a committed member of St. Paul United Church of Christ, Belleville, Ill., for 84 years. Always active in the church, she served as a beloved Sunday school teacher for 57 years, a member of the Christian Education Board for 10 years, taught bible study for 20 years, and spent 10 years volunteering for SHARE food.
Shirley Ma was famous for her baking. Her specialties included chocolate marshmallow cake, cheesecake, and sugar cookies. Later in life, she developed a card ministry and sent countless greeting cards to fellow parishioners, family, and friends. Ma was never short of words, found something in common with everyone she met, never raised her voice or had a mean bone in her body. Shirley Ma taught her family about religion, giving back to others, and the importance of community involvement. Her family gained strength through her faith in God and strong work ethic.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 54 years, Robert H. Eckert, whom she married on June 7, 1947, and who died on Sept. 3, 2001; her parents, William and Anna M., nee Ruettel, Frech; sister, Virginia E. Osborne; and nephew, Robert Osborne II.
Surviving are two sons, Michael H. (Jean) Eckert and Mayor Mark W. (Rita) Eckert, both of Belleville, Ill.; six grandchildren, Dr. Matthew (Carly) Eckert of Tacoma, Wash., Brian (Kati) Eckert of O'Fallon, Ill., Beth (Scott) Jacob of Fairview Heights, Ill., Kate Eckert of Belleville, Ill., Luke Eckert (fiancee, Erika Roche) of Belleville, Ill., and Lucy Eckert of Belleville, Ill.; three great-grandchildren, Andrew Eckert, Samantha Jacob, and Cooper Eckert; sister-in-law, Betty Eckert; special cousin, Gay Eckert; and nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Memorials may be made to St. Paul United Church of Christ in Belleville or to St. Paul's Senior Community. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.rennerfh.com.
Visitation: Friends may call from 3:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, and from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, at St. Paul United Church of Christ, Belleville, Ill.
Funeral: Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, at St. Paul United Church of Christ, Belleville, Ill., with Rev. Drew Kramer officiating. Burial will follow at Valhalla Gardens of Memory, Belleville, Ill.
GEORGE RENNER & SONS FUNERAL HOME, Belleville, Ill.
Published in Belleville News-Democrat on Jan. 7, 2016