Mary Helen Runkle
1928 - 2020
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Mary Helen Runkle
PEORIA - Mary Helen Runkle, 91, passed away Thursday, July 9, 2020 at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL surrounded by members of her loving family.
Mary Helen was born in Peoria on August 6, 1928, the daughter of Stanley and Rose S. Oktanski. She married Robert J. Runkle on October 9, 1954 at St. Mark's Church in Peoria. Married for 61 years, he died on Mary 23, 2016. She is survived by daughter, Julie A. Runkle of South Windsor, CT, son Joseph G. Runkle of Peoria, and three grandchildren, Mary Katherine, Bradley, and Andrew Runkle, all of Peoria.
In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by an infant brother, three aunts, three uncles and four double cousins.
Mary Helen was valedictorian of the Academy of Our Lady class of 1946, as well as valedictorian of Clarke College, Dubuque, Iowa in 1950 where she graduated Maxima Cum Laude. Upon graduation, she worked at Don Heinrich Advertising and Ross Advertising as Media Director and Production Manager, and was an account manager. She later spent 40 years as manager for her family's property rental business, to which she attributed all her grey hair. Her favorite "job" was providing much appreciated baby sitting and childcare for her three grandchildren for 16 years.
Active in the community, Mary Helen was a former president of the Broadway Theater League, a docent at the Lakeview Museum, as well as a member of the Lakeview Arts and Sciences Council. She served for several years as a member of the Lakeview Board of Trustees. Mary Helen volunteered endless hours in many capacities as room mother, Girl Scout helper, and Cub Scout leader for her children, and was a member of the first parish council at St. Thomas Church. She was a member of the Catholic Women's League and the St. Thomas Women's Guild where she served the Martha Group for over 30 years.
For years, Mary Helen handcrafted beautiful Christmas ornaments for family and friends, which have been treasured throughout the years. The Runkle family Christmas tree was always a much anticipated spectacle to behold.
Mary Helen was devoted to her husband, children, and grandchildren, who were her pride and joy. Gramma and Papa enjoyed spending endless hours playing games with and providing activities for the grandchildren and rarely missed a game, recital, or school event as they grew up. She had numerous life-long friends with whom she remained in contact, and was known for never forgetting to send them birthday and holiday cards, or to drop handwritten notes just to say hello. To honor Mary Helen's life, the family asks that you carry on her tradition by sending a note to a dear friend.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 am on Monday, July 13, 2020 at St. Thomas Church, Peoria Heights, with a visitation one hour beforehand and inurnment at a later date at St. Joseph's Cemetery in West Peoria.
Memorials may be made to St. Thomas Church Building Fund or The Martha Group or to a charity of the donor's choice. Friends may sign the online guestbook or send condolences to

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Published in Peoria Journal Star from Jul. 10 to Jul. 12, 2020.
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Guest Book sponsored by Wright & Salmon Mortuary - Peoria
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July 13, 2020
y prayers and condolences. Julie and Joe - I have great memories of you mother who was great friends with my mother. She was always so friendly with me and kind. Both your parents were wonderful and I miss them both.
Tom Coogan
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