CHARLESTON, IL – Molly Jo McElwee, age 80 of Charleston and formerly of Harvel, Illinois, passed away peacefully on Saturday, July 24, 2021, at her Arbor Rose of Charleston home. Visitation will be from 10:30 a.m. until noon on Saturday, July 31, 2021, at Adams Funeral Chapel in Charleston. The funeral service, honoring and celebrating her life, will begin at noon with Pastor Ken Hoover officiating, and with burial to follow at Roselawn Cemetery in Charleston. Memorials in her honor may be made to the Illinois Elks Children’s Care Corporation and can be left at the visitation/funeral service or mailed to Adams Funeral Chapel, 2330 Shawnee Drive, Charleston, IL 61920.
Molly was born on June 24, 1941, in Taylorville, Illinois and grew up not too far away on the family farm near the small rural town of Harvel. She was a daughter of the late R. Wayne and Margaret E. (Bruntjen) Bates. She was a graduate of Morrisonville High School and moved to Charleston to attend Eastern Illinois University where she earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in education and business. She taught Kindergarten in both the Sullivan and Kansas, Illinois school districts and worked in the placement office at Eastern Illinois University. For many years she served as the office secretary for the Mattoon Jr. High School, retiring in 2000.
Molly met Billie Lowell McElwee, who at that time was already entertaining with the ever-popular Bill McElwee Band. It was the band that brought them together and they complemented one another beautifully. Bill and Molly were married on October 12, 1970, and their love song continued to play for the next 47 years. She was preceded in death by her beloved Bill on August 21, 2018. Molly’s surviving family, who will always cherish their many fond memories, include her children, Terry “Sam” McElwee and his wife Teresa of Springfield, Illinois, Diana Yamamoto of Bloomington, Illinois and Tanya Getche and her husband JC of Kansas, Illinois; her bonus family of three stepdaughters, Bridgette Waldau (Jim) of Okeechobee, Florida, Jerilyn McElwee (Matt Albers) of Chantilly Virginia, and Shawn Veach (Bill) of Punta Gorda, Florida; 11 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister, Judy Britton of Oblong, Illinois, several nieces and nephews; her brother-in-law, Dwight McElwee of Charleston; and a sister-in-law, Beth Bates of Duquoin, Illinois. In addition to her parents and husband, she was preceded in death by a brother, Dr. James A. Bates and a sister-in-law, Norma McElwee.
Molly was a longtime member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Charleston and a member of the Women of the Elks and Women of the Moose Charleston Chapter 1175. Molly was musically gifted. In high school she was a majorette for her high school marching band, and she played the organ and entertained with Bill for more than 50 years. Through the years many couples danced the night away listening to the music of Bill and Molly. They also emceed queen pageants for several Illinois County Fairs and many newly crowned fair queens took their first walk on the runway accompanied by Molly at the organ. She was an avid reader who enjoyed a quiet afternoon or evening with a good book, but it was her family which brought her immense joy. Molly never missed an opportunity for a family boat outing on the lake or to attend grandchildren’s events such as baseball games or ballet dance recitals. Molly will be missed and affectionately remembered by family and friends who loved her dearly.
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