CHARLESTON, IL – Norma Jean McElwee, age 84 of Charleston, Illinois, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, May 13, 2020 at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center. There will be no public visitation or service and a celebration of her life will be organized by her family. Norma loved children and Christmas, the Season of Giving – it was her favorite time of year. So that others might share in those same Christmas joys, gifts honoring her memory may be made to Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation – One Stop Christmas and may be mailed in care of Adams Funeral Chapel, 2330 Shawnee Drive, Charleston, IL 61920, or donate online at: www.onestopcc.org.
Norma was born in Charleston on April 25, 1936 and was the daughter of Walter B. and Nellie J. (Nees) Hughes. She attended the Mt. Zion Country School until a handsome young man caught her eye and captured her heart. Norma and Dwight McElwee were married on November 30, 1953 and have been blessed with 66 years of marriage. In addition to Dwight, Norma’s life has been enriched with a large and loving family which includes seven children, Gale (Lori King) McElwee of Charleston, Herb (Kay) McElwee of Oakland, Illinois, Tammie (Chris) Luthe of Casey, Illinois, Debra Hays of Charleston, Lowell “Fod” (Terri) McElwee of Charleston, Jana (Terry) Johnson of Charleston and Lori (Doug) Martin of Tampa, Florida; and 18 grandchildren, Cole (Meghan) McElwee, Courtney (Martin) Garza, Michelle (Troy) Richey, Blythe Bateman, Herb (Jess) McElwee, Anthony (Alicia) Nees, Crystal (Avery) Plummer, Caleb Nees, Heather (Ryan) Linnig, Shane Bailey, Nick (Heather) Davis, Sean McElwee, Ashley (Brad) Etnire, Brittany (Will) Aiken, Savannah Johnson, Presleigh (Daniel) Stone, Caleb Martin and Jacob Martin. Each and every one of her 24 great-grandchildren held a special place in her heart; Ethan McElwee, Olivia McElwee, Braydn Richey, Kennedy Bateman, Korbin Bateman, Sky Hart, Ewan Nees, Vaughn Nees, Braden VanGilder, Emma Plummer, Payton Linnig, Berklee Linnig, Lucas Bailey, Raegin McElwee, Rylie McElwee, Evan McElwee, Kailee Gough, Kinsley Gough, Lola Johnson, Vera Aiken, Ava Johnson, Noah Stone, Hadley Stone, and Sutton Stone. In addition to her parents, Norma joins her infant brother, Leroy Hughes and her four sisters, Reba Adams, Louise Miller, Mildred Finney and Bernice Brown in eternal rest.
Norma was a member of First Christian Church in Charleston. She was a strong supporter and Life Member of Women of the Moose, Charleston Chapter #1175 and the Charleston VFW Auxiliary Paul McVey Post 1592.
It may have been her sweet and kind disposition combined with her amazingly delicious pastries and desserts, which earned her the well-known name of “Sweet Norma Jean”! When her family opened a bakery in Casey it was only fitting to name it Sweet Norma Jean’s Bake Shoppe. As a marvelous cook, her kitchen was always busy, and was often accompanied by the aromas of freshly baked goods and family favorites such as her famous cinnamon rolls and coconut cream pies.
Norma didn’t like to miss too many games of BINGO and was always up for the challenge in a game of Chance. Her many hours of crochet resulted in beautiful creations she shared with family and friends.
Norma was truly the matriarch of her strong, loving and devoted family. She led by example and always threw a little humor into the mix to keep things light-hearted. Her life reflected love, commitment, family and friendship, all admirable qualities which she has imparted to her family and which will continue to be a reflection of her in their lives.
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