EUREKA – Frances Maurine Serangeli, 96, died Monday, March 2, 2020, at the Hopedale Nursing Home in Hopedale.
She was born in Deer Creek, the daughter of Edgar Harold and Frances Ellen Marshall McJunkin. She married Giuseppe “Joe” Serangeli in 1945. He died on October 2011.
Survivors include one son, Joseph Serangeli.
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She was preceded in death by her parents and two brothers, Bill Marshall and Don Marshall.
Maurine was the middle child between her brothers. She began working immediately after high school and met her future husband when both were employed at the Tazewell County Department of Agriculture, Pekin. After their marriage, her husband completed his initial Army Air Corps service, as he flew B-25s during World War II. After his return, they both worked for the Soil Conservation Service and together physically built their own house in Deer Creek, which still stands. When he was recalled by the Air Force to fly RB-26 reconnaissance missions in Korea, Maurine continued working and saved enough money to complete furnishing the home they built. Their union proved to be a strong and effective partnership and the most genuinely loving and conflict-free marriage anyone who knew them had ever seen. They deliberately waited to have a child until they knew they were financially secure enough to responsibly do so. Their son was born in 1952 and he followed in his father’s footsteps into the Air Force. Maurine was a generous person, as she often gave another person something of hers that the person admired just to make the other person happy. Maurine was extremely intelligent with a mind like a steel trap. She spoke her mind on many issues including politics, government and business. Maurine learned how to prepare income tax returns and completed the family’s taxes until recent years. In addition to organizing and operating various office environments over the years, Maurine continued to be a significant force in her husband’s success throughout his career. After his military service, Joe served as Mayor of Eureka for 24 years, worked as the executive coordinator for the Hopedale Medical Complex (HMC), director with the Department of Human Services and a liaison with the Illinois Secretary of State. During their assignment to the embassy in Brussels, Belgium, in the position of assistant air attaché, Maurine and Joe combined to become renown within diplomatic circles for their creative themed dinner parties (Italian, Western, Maritime etc.). After his retirement, they settled in Eureka, where he held the mayoral post. During those years, it was Maurine who went door to door to publicize his plans for the town. She used her experience with formal dinners in Belgium to host several dinners in Eureka for various groups including the 1994 national champion Eureka College men’s basketball team. Later, the HMC benefited from her talents when she was instrumental in organizing and decorating for numerous events and functions. While working for the Secretary of State in Springfield, they rented an inexpensive apartment in nearby Sherman and commuted from Eureka every Sunday night. Her decorating talents took that apartment from plain and almost Spartan to a warm and inviting home. Maurine was an outgoing person who often ended up in conversations with strangers in restaurants or out shopping that sometimes blossomed into long-term friendships. She also never forgot her Deer Creek School mates. Maurine kept in contact and attended reunions faithfully until the last couple of years. The same long-term contact was maintained with friends encountered throughout their travels. They had their last home built in Hopedale but, unfortunately, were in it only a year or so when Joe had to be admitted to the HMC. Shortly thereafter, he asked her not to leave him. Maurine took that request quite literally and stayed with him day and night until his passing in late October 2011. She remained in their last home in Hopedale in later years with her guardian Penny, a dog rescued from the pound after Joe’s passing, and since last May with her son assisting her 24/7. In October 2019, she entered the nursing home where her son and Penny visited her nearly every day. Penny was devoted to Maurine, as she provided security and a much-needed distraction to the end. Maurine was plagued by age-related dementia for several years and it was health complications related to that condition that resulted in her passing. In addition to her social skills, she was a fighter to the end. Maurine never allowed the dementia to preclude her from recognizing her son and her dog. She passed peacefully after supper in a recliner in her room. Maurine is likely employing that fighting spirit to ensure that the circumstances of the vows, “till death do you part” were only temporary. They were devoted to each other and most certainly are putting on a reunion party in the afterlife.
A family graveside service will be held at a later date in Mt. Zion Cemetery, rural Eureka. Davis-Oswald Funeral Home in Tremont is in charge of the arrangements.
Memorials may be made to the Hopedale Medical Foundation, Box 267, Hopedale, 61747.
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