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Alba L. Goebel

May 29, 1921 December 15, 2022
Alba L. Goebel
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Obituary for Alba L. Goebel

Born May 29, 1921, in Cava de Tirreni, Italy, the daughter of Simeone and Caterina Fenoglio Ghezzo, she married William Frank Goebel on October 18, 1947. He died April 7, 1999. She was also preceded in death by her beloved parents and Aunt Emilia, four brothers and four sisters.

Surviving are children: Gerry (Colleen), Steve (Kelly), Dave (Veronica), Maria, and Tommy, 13 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren, brother Anthony (Giovanna) Ghezzo, nieces, nephews, friends such as Leticia Hill, who felt more like a sister.

Alba was a truly extraordinary woman with an invincible spirit.  That beautiful light shined brightly for over a century.  And through her art, her love can endure in countless hearts and homes for years to come.

Alba displayed strength and determination from an early age.  She dreamed of studying art in Florence, unrealistically, due to her father’s position as an officer in the Royal Army.  When Crown Prince Umberto came to inspect the troops, the irrepressible girl rushed up to him with a sketch of his beautiful bride, Princess Marie-Jose, along with a plea to transfer her father.  Remarkably, Captain Ghezzo was granted that assignment almost immediately thereafter, enabling Alba to pursue her dream.   She graduated from the University of Florence with a degree in Art and Philosophy, and became a teacher of Ancient Greek and Latin.

Throughout World War II, an unwavering faith sustained her.  On one occasion, she was injured by an artillery shell while attempting to find potatoes; and on another, she was credited with saving her brother from a Nazi soldier who held him at gunpoint in their home.  To help support the family, Alba worked in a giftshop on the Ponte Vecchio, where she was renowned for painting miniature portraits on ivory.  After the liberation of Florence, homesick American soldiers began to ask her to sketch their sweethearts.  This successful enterprise led to a prestigious position as an illustrator at the Beta Film Studio.

After the war ended, Alba embarked on a ship to the United States to visit her sister, Lida.  During this trip, she met and married her future husband.  After a few years in Washington, Illinois, Frank and Alba moved to Chillicothe, and Alba taught third grade at St. Edward’s new school.  Her faith grew stronger, and she was the most devoted, loving wife and mother.

Beginning in the 1950s, the Peoria Diocese commissioned Alba to paint numerous bishops and popes.  Alba wrote directly to each pope asking for a photo.  But when in Rome in 1978, just days after election, she stood within a few feet of Pope John Paul II, getting a wonderful opportunity to capture the future saint’s dynamic personality as he greeted people for the first time.  In the next four decades, she received commissions from churches, hospitals, museums, municipalities, and corporations throughout the US.  She was accepted into the American Portrait Society and the Chicago Art Institute.

She once said that the true goal of a portraitist is to capture the likeness of a subject. “You have to bring out their feelings, their character has to come through. Seeing a subject come to life is the biggest thrill.” Alba recognized that her ability was a gift from God, and she derived satisfaction from bringing comfort to others.  A grieving mother once fainted at the sight of Alba’s vivid depiction of her little girl.  She later expressed gratitude to Alba for giving her a way to keep the daughter close, so she could carry on with life after tragedy.

In 1983, Frank and Alba retired to Bolivar, Missouri, and joined Sacred Heart Parish, receiving a warm welcome by soon-to-be lifelong friends.  They greatly enjoyed country life, but health considerations prompted a return to dear friends in Chillicothe in 1993.

Alba believed in the sanctity of all human life – from the unborn to the elderly – and tried to alleviate the suffering of the poor and the unseen.  She welcomed everyone into her home, pulling them into the strong grip of her beautiful hands. Our precious mother’s absence has left us with an aching emptiness, but we are consoled in our belief that she is now in the hands of her dear Jesus.  She is singing with choirs of angels, and bringing even more joy to Heaven with her warm smile and infectious laughter.

Mass of the Resurrection will be held at 12:00 PM on Wednesday, December 21, 2022, at St. Edward Church in Chillicothe, with grandson, Fr. Nathan Goebel, and Fr. Martin officiating.  Visitation will be held at Wright and Salmon in Peoria on Tuesday, December 20, from 4:00 - 6:00 PM, followed by recitation of the Holy Rosary.

Donations may be made to Mercy Home, Propagation of the Faith, or Women’s Choice Center of Bettendorf, Iowa.


The funeral Mass may be viewed live at If unable to watch live, the recorded version can be viewed at

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Previous Events





4:00 PM 12/20/2022 4:00:00 PM - 6:00 PM 12/20/2022 6:00:00 PM
Wright & Salmon Mortuary

2416 N North St
Peoria, IL 61604

Wright & Salmon Mortuary
2416 N North St Peoria 61604 IL
United States

Funeral Mass




12:00 PM 12/21/2022 12:00:00 PM
St. Edward Catholic Church

1216 N 6th St
Chillicothe, IL 61523

St. Edward Catholic Church
1216 N 6th St Chillicothe 61523 IL
United States

Cemetery Details


Chillicothe City Cemetery Final Resting Place

908 N Second
Chillicothe, IL 61523

908 N Second Chillicothe 61523 IL
United States

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