DeKALB – Maria Ann (Hongisto) McMillion, 51, of DeKalb, Illinois, died peacefully, surrounded by family, Monday, June 9, 2014, at Kishwaukee Hospital, after a courageous 11-month battle with cancer.|
Born Aug. 4, 1962, in Wakefield, Michigan, the daughter of Robert and Marilyn (Saari) Hongisto, she shared the love of her parents with her older brother Nick. Maria married Robert McMillion on April 27, 1985, and soon gave birth to their son Patrick, closely followed by their daughter Christine. Maria was born to be a great mother and all of her energy targeted their growth, love and development into the unbelievable young adults they are today.
A graduate of DeKalb High School and Northern Illinois University, Maria was the librarian at Littlejohn Elementary School for more than 20 years and also owned McMillion's Spotlite grocery and meat market with her husband.
Countless children experienced her passion listening to the stories she read to them at the library and the "penny" candy she patiently counted out for them at the store. Countless teachers appreciated her scheduling patience and laminating skills. Maria also enjoyed listening to the Harambee Percussion Ensemble produced by the students and especially enjoyed performing in the staff percussion production.
Maria loved to travel, especially with her kids, and had the opportunity to spend time in Europe with her daughter, backpack in New Mexico with her son, daughter and husband, and enjoy several trips across the United States visiting multiple national parks, including landing on a glacier in a helicopter and dogsledding in Alaska.
While she relished travel, she was always most comfortable curled up on the couch with "Teeny" or "Paddy" watching cooking, decorating or reality shows. She enjoyed decorating and utilized her art education degree from NIU to make an extremely loving and comfortable home.
At times, Maria was painfully shy, but she developed long-lasting friendships extending decades that still continue today.
Maria also was actively involved in Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church in DeKalb, serving on multiple committees, including vice president of the church council. She enjoyed creating the electronic bulletin board, as well, for the church and actively did that until shortly before her death.
She is survived by her husband, Rob; son, Patrick (Bridget); daughter, Christine; mother and father, Marilyn and Bob Hongisto; and brother, Nick (Diane) Hongisto.
A memorial celebration of her life will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 14, at Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1915 N. First St., DeKalb. Cremation is by Anderson Funeral Home Crematory, DeKalb.
In lieu of flowers and gifts, the family has requested donations in memorial to KishHealth System Cancer Center, 10 Health Services Drive, DeKalb, IL 60115.
For information, visit www.AndersonFuneralHomeLtd.com or call 815-756-1022.
Published in Daily Chronicle on June 11, 2014