Lillian Marjorie Peterman Fitzsimmons
Born: March 23, 1930
Died: November 1, 2020
Lillian Marjorie "Marj" Peterman Fitzsimmons, beloved wife and mother, kind grandma, and good friend, died with daughters by her side on November 1, 2020 from the complications of strokes suffered during the past month. She was born to William and Catherine (Kapler) Peterman, Austrian immigrants, in Chicago, IL, on March 23, 1930, the youngest of six siblings. She attended Catholic schools in Chicago until her father unexpectedly announced they were moving out to the country near Marengo, IL! Mom adapted well, went to Marengo High school, made life-long friends, and unknowingly met the man whom she would one day fall in love with and marry, classmate LeRoy "Roy" Fitzsimmons.
But first, the Korean War was on. Dad was drafted into the Army and sent to combat in Korea. Mom decided to enlist in the newly formed Women's Air Corp where she trained and ultimately obtained the rank of Drill Instructor at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. She eventually requested and received orders to work in the records department at the Pentagon. Dad asked Mom's sister Rosemary for her sister's address, and a long writing courtship ensued. They figured they only had three actual dates before deciding they were meant for each other. And it turned out to be true; they celebrated 58 years together before Dad died in 2012.
After their military service they married on February 6, 1954 and settled in Genoa, IL, where they lived for their entire married life. They opened their own dry cleaning business, "Roy's Cleaners," and later a coin-operated laundromat, "Rapid Wash." Within four years they had us, their four daughters: Rita, Barbara, Cathy and Francine. In 1965 they welcomed a fifth daughter, Monica.
Mom's world revolved around her family, her work, and St. Catherine's Church. Mom was always a working partner in their businesses, but when they sold the Cleaners to pursue Dad's dream job of becoming an Illinois Conservation Officer, Mom took college classes and switched careers to banking. She worked for Farmers and Merchants Bank in Sycamore and later at Citizens First National Bank (later Heartland Bank) in Genoa as a teller, finally retiring as a loan secretary.
Mom would modestly say that she wasn't a great cook, but food was healthy and plentiful and dinner was around the kitchen table every single night. Eagerly anticipated family vacations were taken every year to lake cabins in Wisconsin or driving trips out West. Mom enjoyed golfing, playing the organ, reading, playing games with friends, listening to the White Sox on the radio, and savoring a good piece of dark chocolate! But genealogical research was her overriding passion for more than 45 years. In the pursuit of absolute accuracy for her research, she traveled the US and Europe - often on her own and sometimes in the company of her husband, sister or daughter - to search for records in remote village cemeteries and town courthouses. Her excellent record-keeping ability was also invaluable when volunteering with Dad to organize and manage all of the hundreds of records for St Catherine's cemetery for over 30 years.
All her life Mom showed us by example the dedication it takes to raise a family while also working outside of the home, the value of having spiritual faith, the willingness and curiosity to learn new things, the duty to help others when they need it, and striving always - always - to be trustworthy, honest, grateful and loving.
Marj was preceded in death by her husband, Roy, daughter Monica, her parents and four siblings. She is survived by her daughters Rita Fitzsimmons (Lee Kozlowski), Barbara Johnson (Mark), Cathy Thurlby (Mike) and Francine Fitzsimmons, grandchildren Allison Thurlby Waldron (Lloyd), Katie Thurlby, Mike Kozlowski, Mason and Evan Walters, great-grandson Rhett Waldron, the Johnson family: Ben (Amanda and son Bode), Cally (Alejandro and daughters Valentina and Olivia), and Sam, sister Rosemary Polnow and many beloved nieces and nephews.
Under current Covid restrictions, a small funeral mass is scheduled for 10:30 on November 7, 2020 at St. Catherine's Church in Genoa, IL, followed by a graveside blessing with military honors.
Organizations dear to Mom's heart were the VFW/Genoa Veteran's Home and and the Kishwaukee Valley Heritage Society if you're inclined to make a donation on her behalf. She would certainly be touched to have masses said for her at St. Catherine's. We would welcome condolences at www.butalafuneralhomes.com
Arrangements have been completed by Slater Butala Funeral Homes, 132 W Main St, Genoa, IL 60135.