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Anna May Dufek

March 11, 1928 June 1, 2020
Anna May Dufek
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Obituary for Anna May Dufek

PEORIA – Anna May Dufek, 92, of Peoria passed away peacefully at Lutheran Hillside Village Senior Care Center at 3:12 a.m. Monday, Jun. 1, 2020 holding her older daughter’s hand after a day of hymns and lullabies sung to her by her younger daughter.

Anna May was born on Mar. 11, 1928, in Detroit, Michigan, to Ivan and Margaretta (Schuh) Inghram. She is survived by her two daughters, Debra Ann Dufek (John) Zenian of Collinsville, IL, and Susan Annette (Thomas) Smith of Willow Springs, MO; one grandson, Benjamin David Smith of Willow Springs, MO; as well as several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her brother and life long friend, Louis Inghram, of Davenport, IA; and her husband of 64 years, Edward James Dufek, of Peoria, IL.

In Detroit, her dad was employed by the Warner Elevator Company installing Otis elevators and her mom was employed by the Detroit Free Press. When she was 6, they moved to West Liberty, IA, where her dad owned and operated Inghram Electric.

Anna May grew up in the United Methodist church where, like her parents, she was deeply devoted to her faith, attending and later teaching Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. Her dad was a lay leader and belonged to the Masonic Lodge and Shriners. She and her mom were members of the Eastern Star.

She attended West Liberty High School and was active in Speech and Debate. She won an oratory contest in the humorous division. She debated for the inclusion of school softball and tennis teams for girls. Ironically, her dad deemed it unbecoming for young ladies to play in the new softball team, so she joined tennis instead and kept softball outside of school with her friends.

Anna May was a member of Quill and Scroll, an international honorary society for high school journalists, as well as a reporter for and the news editor of the school newspaper, which was published in the West Liberty Index.

She was active in Drama and enjoyed reading mysteries. She acted in both humorous talent show skits and dramatic plays. She attended all the school games and danced all the latest dances such as the jitterbug, lindy hop and swing.

Anna May was a Girl Scout, in which she served as secretary, treasurer and then president. She enjoyed camping trips, swimming, ice skating. She was also a bit of a tomboy in her adventures with her friends, climbing up farm silos, train coal chutes and jumping across downtown roof tops.

In 1946 she graduated from high school 15th in her class. She taught in a one-room school just outside of West Liberty for a while and took secretarial classes at Iowa City Business College. She was a very good artist and enjoyed drawing people, flowers and scenery. She was also a member of the original National Handcraft Society where she aptly learned every sort of handicraft offered.

Anna May attended the University of Iowa in Iowa City, from 1948 to 1951 where she was enrolled in the College of Nursing and then the Liberal Arts College. She was able to adapt her coursework to her bus and work schedules. She taught Sunday school and was a store clerk in West Liberty, commuted to Iowa City for classes in the arts and sciences, and worked as a hostess at the local diner near the University of Iowa.

Anna May was in the United States Coast Guard the summer of 1949 and worked as a cashier/concessionaire on the City of Grand Rapids out of Benton Harbor, MI. The summer of 1950 she worked as a countergist on the Milwaukee Clipper out of Milwaukee, WI, that transported people and vehicles on Lake Michigan.

She met Edward James Dufek at the diner where she worked in Iowa City and they were married on May 12, 1951, in Iowa City. They moved to Creston, IA where she worked as a clerk in a fine jewelry store and took ceramic classes in town, creating splendid porcelain lamps, planters and platters.

They had their first daughter in Peoria, IL, moved to Dubuque, IA for a year, but returned to Peoria settling into the new subdivision of Hamilton Park, and had their second daughter. They joined two bridge clubs simultaneously and made decorative candles for extra Christmas money.

Anna May was a wonderful mother and teacher. She loved to sew dresses for her daughters, smocking some of them and crafting fun appliqués or adding intricate trim to others. She also made curtains, drapes and embroidered linens. She taught her daughters to sew by giving them the supplies, a few simple directions and the promise to thread the sewing machine needle whenever the thread broke. Anna May made scrumptious stews, baked beans, and meatloaf and baked heavenly pecan rolls, bread and cookies. She taught her daughters to bake by giving them her well stocked kitchen, a few simple directions and the promise to clean up everything at the end.

She was active in her daughters’ education. She engaged them in skills of observation and storytelling while waiting for the bus on shopping trips, took them to dance and music lessons, sought out different clubs and organizations for them to try, attended all of their band/orchestra concerts, went on trail rides and supported all of their endeavors. She always let them know that they were her pride and joy.

Anna May was very active in her community. She was in the PTA when her children were in school. In the 1960’s she instigated the installation of a crossing light so children walking to school could cross Gale safely amid the traffic that ensued from the nearby interstate. In 1997, to improve neighborhood safety, Anna May started and was the president of the Hamilton Park Neighborhood Association for over a decade.

Anna May was politically active throughout her life. She was inspired at the ’64 Goldwater Campaign Rally to become active in local politics. In 1976 she was simultaneously elected precinct committeeman for both the Republican and Democrat parties.

She was a good role model. She learned to drive in 1965 and went back to school to finish her college education. Anna May received her B.S. in Education in 1969 from Illinois State University in Normal, IL. She learned to play the piano and, for a semester, played Brahms Lullaby for her children at bedtime. She spent Saturday nights relaxing with her family and friends, eating out and enjoying silly jokes.

Anna May began teaching at Beverly Manor elementary school in Sunnyland, IL in 1969. She taught second grade for 22 years during which time she also attended Illinois State University and received her Master’s Degree in Reading Education in 1972. She earned the International Reading Association Certificate of Achievement from the Illinois Valley Reading Council, the Illinois School District 50 Certificate of Excellence Award and was a member of Alpha Delta Kappa Honorary Society. She became president of the Illinois Valley Reading Council in 1974.

During the summers she not only took classes and attended seminars in Illinois and Indiana but also worked for a variety of department stores. She also worked at McDonald’s and was recommended for a full time manager position, but her passion was children’s education.

Anna May fought for using the Language Experience Approach to teach reading, permitting each student to learn at their own speed and to gear topics to their individual interests. Her classroom at Beverly Manor was always filled with activity. Her students acted out stories they had read, used new technology when computers first became available, participated in her classroom science fairs, wrote books and read them to the class, tutored classmates and learned a foreign language whenever a classmate needed to learn English. She always gave her students recognition for their accomplishments and published their photos in the local newspaper, the Courier. She and her husband also helped her students plant a tree for Earth Day every year.

After retirement, she became a substitute teacher for Robien Elementary School in East Peoria, St. Vincent de Paul Elementary School in Peoria and Norwood Elementary School in Norwood, IL for the 1991-92 school year.

Anna May then taught reading education at Bradley University in Peoria for a few a years so she could inspire student teachers on how to best instill the love of reading at the elementary school level. Anna May always held Proverb 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go” in her heart.

She was active in her husband’s interests of gardening, canning, mushroom hunting and picking wild grapes for wine plus attended his beekeeper picnics, Hanna City Sportsman’s Club breakfasts, and tropical fish awards banquets. She made good friends wherever she was and was quick to offer a plate of her homemade cookies or a leisure glass of homemade wine when they came to visit. She liked to relax watching the activity of wildlife and her husband’s beautiful backyard flower gardens.

Anna May enjoyed dancing the two-step, waltz and polka with her husband at the Lindenhof German Hall, Hickory Grove, Glen Oak Park and Metamora’s town square and various festivals. They attended concerts at Forest Park Nature Center and enjoyed the music at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church. They even set a record for the longest number (45) of consecutive years of attendance at the annual Family Christmas sing-a-longs at the Peoria Court House in 1999.

She enjoyed exploring the US, Mexico, and Brazil with her family. She camped in the Rockies with a toddler and baby in tow and in the Appalachians in heavy rains. She played in the coastal waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico. She helped her husband collect rock samples in the Colorado Mountains and cacti from every state in Mexico. She boated down the Amazon and delivered school supplies to remote villages along the farthest reaches of Brazil’s Negro River. She explored national parks from Crater Lake, Redwood, and Yosemite to Bryce and Grand canyons and the Saguaro Wilderness to the Shenandoah Valley, the Great Smokies and Okefenokee Swamp. She flew over Mt. McKinley, traveled the Alaska-Yukon highway and saw Pennsylvania Amish farms from a hot air balloon. She saw glaciers calving, felt the spray of the Niagara falls, canoed in the Wisconsin Dells and won the bet that fish do respond better to loud music and laughter. She visited historical sites from Tombstone to Gettysburg, went up the St. Louis Arch on opening day and was an avid St Louis Cardinals and Peoria Chiefs fan.

Anna May was a member of the German American Central Society of Peoria and the Damenchoir Germania in which she sang at the 58th Nationales Sangerfest, in German, in 2004. She and her husband worked at the various German fests both at Hickory Grove and at the river front.

At Lutheran Hillside Senior Care Center, she enjoyed church, bible study, poker, bingo, and concerts. She also was active in their Resident Council.

Anna May loved her family and friends and spending time with them. She was well read, had a keen wit, enjoyed nature and praised God for all her many blessings.

A private family visitation and funeral service will be held at the chapel at Swan Lake Memory Gardens, 4601 W. War Memorial Dr, Peoria, IL, where she will then be laid to rest next to her husband. Reverend Pat Monroe will officiate.

A memorial fund for children’s literacy is set up at Wright & Salmon Mortuary. Please make checks to Debra Dufek, please make note that it’s for Anna May Dufek’s memorial fund.

Friends are requested to mail sympathy cards to Wright & Salmon Mortuary, 2416 N. North St, Peoria, IL. They may also sign the online guestbook or send private condolences by logging onto


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