PONTIAC - Elizabeth A. “Betty” Estes, 81, of Pontiac, passed away Wednesday (June 20, 2012) peacefully at her home.
A memorial Mass will be held at 9:30a.m. Saturday (June 30) at St. Mary’s Church, Pontiac. Interment will follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Loretto. Her family will receive friends at a Celebration of Betty’s Life on Friday (June 29) from 3 to 7 p.m. at St. Mary’s Parish Hall, 501 N. Chicago St., Pontiac.
Arrangements were handled by Calvert & Martin Funeral Home, Pontiac.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Betty Estes Community Service Scholarship, c/o Bank of Pontiac; St. Vincent DePaul Food Pantry; or the Livingston County Humane Society.
Betty was born July 11, 1930, in Chicago, to Bill and Liz (Eich) Mertes. She graduated from Calumet High School, Chicago. Early in life, she worked at the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, and Swift & Co., Chicago, where she met her future husband, Dalmain H. (Dal) Estes.
They married on Nov. 24, 1951, in Chicago and were married 54 years before his death in 2005. Betty and Dal moved to Pontiac in 1986, where they quickly began volunteering in their newly adopted hometown.
Betty worked for the State of Illinois, Department of Corrections, and then, in 1991, began working in the Pontiac City Treasurer’s office. In 1996, she was appointed the city of Pontiac’s first Tourism Director.
In 2004, Betty and Dal founded the Livingston County War Museum. Additionally, she created the Red Carpet Corridor to promote Route 66, and worked tirelessly to bring the Route 66 Museum to Pontiac. Because of these efforts, the Illinois Route 66 Heritage Project created a scholarship at the U of I in her honor.
Because of her abundant energy and giving spirit, she was involved in many organizations, including as the past president of the Pontiac Rotary, United Way, Dialectic Association, Athenia Club and American Cancer Society. She was a member of the Amtrak Coalition, Leadership Illinois and co-chair of the Abraham Lincoln committee.
She had a tremendous passion for preserving history, and, in one of her favorite projects, helped the town of Saunemin, save the home of noted Civil War soldier Albert Cashier/Jennie Hodgers.
In 1994, she was the Pontiac Rotary’s Pontiac Citizen of the Year. She was a past grand marshal of the Threshermen Parade and in 2003 was named Athena Business Woman of the year. In 2007, she was inducted into the State of Illinois Hall of Fame for community service.
Betty was preceded in death by her husband Dal, and son Adam Estes. She is survived by her children, David, Normal; Becky (Ken) McComb, St. Anne; Melissa (Keith) Barnhart, Yorkville; Cynthia (Simmie Baer), Denver, Colo.; and Elizabeth (Ebus) (Mary Fechtig), Chicago. She was “Nanny” to three grandchildren, Jason (Rhonda) McComb, Lizzie (Craig) Roscoe and Claire Barnhart and “Sweet Little Nanny” to three great-grandchildren, Grace and Hayden Roscoe and Lucas McComb. She is also survived by her sister, Marie Mertes and brother, Wilfred (Irene) Mertes, both of Ransom. In the past few years of her life, she was blessed with the companionship of Jim Dawson.
The Estes kids are grateful for the wonderful care Betty received from Dr. Steven Rosen, Dr. Shuo Ma and Vicki Maurer at the Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern University. We are also grateful for the years of care given to her by Dr. John Rinker and, most recently, the compassion, caring and comfort she was given by the staff at OSF Hospice, especially Julie Araujo.
Although credited for promoting and helping to create museums and monuments, Betty’s most notable legacy is her family, her smile, and her genuine concern for others. She lived a life of faith, gratitude and kindness.
This obituary may be viewed and a guestbook signed at calvertmartinmemorial.com.