GERMANTOWN HILLS - Joanne (O'Russa) Bloom, 75, of Germantown Hills passed away and left this life and entered her new life in heaven on Friday, Feb. 14, 2014.
She was in her home, with family by her side. Joanne had been fighting a blood disorder for over a year, but continued to remain optimistic and full of faith, so many people didn't even know she was sick. She lived every day to the fullest and remained positive until the end.
Joanne was born Jan. 11, 1939, in Princeville. She was the oldest child of Lorence and Anna (Noe) O'Russa.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her brother, Larry O'Russa, last year; her son, David Bloom, nine years ago; as well as her great-nephew, Benjamin Bond, eight years ago.
She is survived by her husband, Larry Bloom; her daughter, Theresa Bloom of Morton; and her daughter, Kelly Bloom (Brian Glover) of Massachusetts. She has five grandchildren, Lexi, Skylar and Brody of Morton and Olivia and Luke of Massachusetts. She is also survived by her brother, Richard (Mary) O'Russa of Peoria; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Joanne was a 1957 graduate of Academy of Our Lady Spalding Institute, where she was involved in many activities, played an instrument in the band, wrote for the newspaper and graduated with honors. She then graduated from Illinois State University in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and with Honors Awards.
Joanne's primary profession in her lifetime was teaching. She worked at Cabrini Home for young pregnant mothers, tutored students in District 150 who were unable to finish school and taught at St. Mary's in Metamora, Midstate College and the preschool program at Bradley University. For many years, she also managed her husband, Larry Bloom's, State Farm Insurance office.
Joanne was involved in so many organizations and activities throughout her life, many of them were relating to her strong faith and her passions for the arts, the environment and social justice. Joanne was involved in the Cursillo program for many years and served as Rectora. She was also actively involved in the Catholic Social Justice groups, Roncolli Society and Call to Action. In addition, Joanne served on the board of Snyder Village Retirement Community in Metamora and was a constant visitor of residents and relatives there, as well as an organizer of the Annual Fundraising Auction. She was a member of St. Thomas Parish from a young age and also had children and grandchildren who attended St. Thomas School. For many years, she volunteered there as the Picture Lady in the classrooms, educating about works of art. She was also actively involved in the annual Fine Arts Day there. In addition, Joanne volunteered to make costumes for the Cornstock Theater Group and was a frequent supporter of their productions. For many years, Joanne was involved in fundraising events for the Cancer Center in Peoria. Her concern for the environment also got her involved in the Illinois River conservation efforts. But one of the organizations she was most involved in was the Sun Foundation. For more than 35 years, Joanne volunteered with and supported the Sun Foundation. She cared deeply about children and their connection to nature and the arts. She took her children to the Sun Foundation's Art and Science in the Woods Program, then grandchildren and neighbor children. Joanne served many years as the evaluator of the Art and Science in the Woods Program with great wisdom and insight. For 10 years, she was an integral member of the Winter Warming Committee. She helped to plan and orchestrate this annual fundraising event to support the Sun Foundation's Children's programs. Every summer, she would talk excitedly about the activities and teachers at the Sun Foundation Camp, as well as the children who were being inspired.
All who knew Joanne have talked about her positive nature, her tremendous energy and involvement in activities, her great faith and her love and support for her family and many friends. She was always willing to offer support and advice or to lend a helping hand. Many times, she gave her belongings and even her home to people in need. She never got discouraged, lost her faith or spoke unkindly of others. She was continually reading and researching issues and was always ready to enter into a philosophical debate or even to write an opinion piece for the Peoria Journal Star. She was an inspiration and a positive presence to so many people and organizations. She will be greatly missed, but we know she has moved on to bigger and better things.
A celebration of life church service will be at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, at St. Thomas Church in Peoria Heights. Instead of wearing the traditional mourning attire, please wear bright colors in honor of Joanne's spirit for life and her belief in the afterlife as a celebration. Monsignor William Watson will officiate. The visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, also at St. Thomas. Cremation rites have been accorded.
Mason Funeral Home Germantown Hills Chapel is in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Sun Foundation.
Online condolences at www.masonfuneralhomes.com.