CHARLESTON, IL – Barbara Jolene Whitley, of Charleston and formerly of Bridgeport, Illinois, departed this world on Saturday, October 30, 2021, at Arbor Rose of Charleston. Visitation will be held at Adams Funeral Chapel in Charleston on Saturday, November 6, 2021 from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. with a memorial service celebrating her life to follow at 4:30 p.m. also at Adams Funeral Chapel.
Jolene was born in Olney, IL on August 13, 1936 to Lucille G. Cunningham Barnett and Thomas C. Barnett. She grew up in Robinson and Bridgeport, IL and graduated from Bridgeport High School in 1954. She entered EIU in the fall of 1956 where she met Larry Stephen Whitley. They were married on June 14, 1958, in Robinson, Illinois. The young couple moved to West Lafayette, Indiana where she did secretarial work while Steve attained his MS degree and PhD degrees in Environmental Physiology at Purdue University. He joined the faculty at EIU in the fall in 1963 and they became permanent residents of Charleston. Jolene is survived by her husband, her children, Christopher Stephen Whitley and wife Missy of York, South Carolina, Erin Jolene Whitley of Indianapolis, Indiana, and Patrick Thomas Whitley and wife Amy of Fisher, Indiana. Also, left to cherish her memory are her grandchildren Taylor Christian Whitley, Tanner Michael Whitley, Bailee Stephen Whitley, Ryan Patrick Whitley, and Jackson Richard Whitley. Jolene was preceded in death by her parents, stepfather Dr. Walter Schmidt, and brother Ronald Barnett.
Jolene was a member of Charleston’s Wesley United Methodist Church. She was a stay-at-home mother until all of the children began school, at which time she returned to EIU and completed both her Baccalaureate and Masters degrees. She became the kindergarten teacher at Ashmore School and then moved to 2nd grade where she taught for 19 years. She was very devoted to her students and followed their achievements as adults. She was proud to be a part of the learning community created by the teachers, staff, and families in Ashmore school. She was a member of the Charleston Education Association and the National Education Association. She retired in 1994, and in retirement she and Steve traveled extensively with The First Mid B&T group. They also enjoyed time spent with their children and grandchildren, including an annual June family week alternating between Disney World and Sanibel Island. Jolene volunteered at the Charleston Carnegie Public Library and in the Charleston school district as a substitute teacher and as a classroom extra. Ever the teacher, she cherished every minute spent with her children and grandchildren, always the loving, supporting mother and grandmother. Friendships with teachers and staff were cherished as were lifelong friendships with Regina Isom and Leelyn Becker
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Jolene’s honor may be made to Transitions Hospice or to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Gifts may be left at the services or mailed in care of Adams Funeral Chapel, 2330 Shawnee Drive, Charleston, Illinois 61920.
Please visit www.adamsfuneralchapel.com to leave condolences for Jolene’s family.