SULLIVAN -- Norma Jean Aldridge, 86, died at 8:05 p.m., Tuesday, January 17, 2017, at Eastview Terrace in Sullivan, Illinois. Jean is now with her family in Heaven, never to suffer pain again.
Visitation will be from 1:00-2:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 300 E. Daggy St., Tuscola, on Saturday, January 21, 2017 followed by a funeral service in the church. Rev. Jerry Silver and Rev. Mike Rutledge will officiate. Burial will be in Tuscola Township Cemetery. Hilligoss Shrader Funeral Home, Tuscola, IL is in charge of the arrangements.
Jean was born on September 2, 1930 in Shelbyville, Missouri, the youngest child of George and Edna Pearl Lewis Geery. She graduated from Downing, Missouri High School in 1948, and then married Florin “Buck” Aldridge in Queen City, Missouri on May 9, 1948. Their first date was on March 24, 1948, and seven days later Buck asked Jean to marry him. Their happy, loving marriage lasted until his untimely death at the age of 59 on February 22, 1988. His sudden death was devastating to Jean and the couple’s four daughters. Jean married Luster Charles “Luck” Copas on June 16, 1991, in Lewistown, Illinois. He died June 11, 1999, but their short eight years together were happy ones.
Buck and Jean Aldridge lived in northeast Missouri as newly-weds until he got a job working for Miller Construction firm out of Camargo, Illinois in 1952. They moved 27 times in two years in this itinerant job, living in various towns in Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. They lived in rural Villa Grove before settling in Tuscola as their permanent hometown after he was hired by Alonzo Sturgell as a watchmaker/clerk in Sturgell’s Jewelry Store in Tuscola in 1954.
In Missouri, Jean worked at the lunch counter in the Model Drug Store in West Plains, was on the assembly line at International Shoe Factory in Mexico and Florsheim Shoe Factory in Kirksville, was a nurse’s aide in the Laughlin Osteopathic Hospital in Kirksville, and helped operate Aldridge Jewelry Stores in Downing and Clarence. When she and her husband first moved to Tuscola, Jean washed and ironed clothes for neighbors and workers at Panhandle Eastern Pipeline to supplement her husband’s meager watchmaker’s salary. She was also a prep cook at Williams Cafe and Brookstone Senior Retirement Home in Tuscola.
After she and Florin purchased Sturgell’s Jewelry Store in 1967, Jean helped clerk, order merchandise, and repair jewelry. She traveled with her husband on clock, watch and jewelry buying trips throughout their marriage. The couple ran Aldridge Jewelry Store until his death, which occurred in the store. Jean continued to operate Aldridge’s by herself until closing the jewelry business nine years later.
Jean was involved in church activities in the First Baptist Church, Tuscola, and Arthur Southern Baptist Church for many years. She volunteered thousands of hours multi-tasking in the Douglas County Museum, Tuscola, from 1988 to 2012. She was a seamstress who made most of her four daughters’ clothes as they were growing up. She was a terrific cook and had a sweet tooth for candy. Jean was a loving and devoted mother and wife who made great sacrifices for her family’s happiness and well-being. She was a strong Christian woman with a kind heart.
She was the mother of four daughters, Florenna Sue (Joe Hahn), Lynnita Jean (Dale Brown), Dennarda “Denni” Kay (Charlie Hubert), and Alonna Gail (Ron Deatrick). She was the grandmother of Buffy (Bryan Topper), Jodi Hahn (Andrew Bochte), Celena Sommer, Moya Rossi, Johnnie (Steve Shindledecker), Jamie (Joshua Procknow), Jackie Beck, Gretchen Feldman (Mike Weiland), and Whitney (Gary Sugg). She had 18 great grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husbands; parents; siblings William Geery, Versa Geery, Vesta Hall, Zena Singleton and Glenda Kirkland. Her eldest daughter, Sue Hahn, died in June 2013.
She is survived by Lynnita and Dale, Dennarda and Charlie, Alonna and Ron, her grand and great grandchildren, numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins, son-in-law Joe Hahn, and her caregiver, Bonnie Fonner.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Tuscola First Baptist Church or Arthur Southern Baptist Church to provide scholarships to send children to summer church camp.
Obituary written by family members.