Donna Mae Crook

By on July 23, 2010

Donna Mae Crook, 76, of Elburn, formerly of Lily Lake, passed away surrounded by the love and prayers of her family, Tuesday, July 20, 2010.

She was born Dec. 15, 1933, in Elmhurst, Ill., the daughter of Donald and Mable (Anderson) Talty.

Before she was 1, her father took a different path. Mable then married Edward Reinink Jr., who became the man she always saw as her father.

Donna jumped on a train each day to attend Wheaton High. Her younger years were filled with happy memories and times spent in the family-owned meat market and general store, Andersons, in Elmhurst.

She found love very early in life and caught the eye and the heart of William Crook. They were united in marriage on Oct. 21, 1950, in Warrenville, Ill. Donna and Bill spent many years raising a family and making their house a home.

When Bill became afflicted with MS, Donna became his caretaker for more than 20 years. Their love increased with every day; their bond becoming unbreakable until his passing in 1993.

They began their new life together on the family farm for a time until 1953, when they moved to Lily Lake. They built a new home two years later. After Bill’s passing in 1993, Donna moved to live with her son, Tom, and his family for the next 13 years.

Donna’s heart was big enough to care for the world and everyone in it. For most of her years, she was affectionately known by all as “Grandma.” She never met a stranger, and very few ever left without having their lives changed for the better.

Never one to brag about herself, Grandma could do anything. She worked on the farm, at a pickle company for a time, worked as a welder, and later worked many years in the restaurant industry. Grandma worked at The Farm Inn in Wasco, Campton Inn in Lily Lake, and later at the Kountry Kettle in Elburn.

Family was most important in her life, so for the next many years she helped take care of her grandchildren, spoiling them rotten and loving every moment. Grandma was a fixture in their lives, present for every step and every accomplishment.

She went back to work after the grandkids were grown at her best friend and daughter Linda’s restaurant, Gert’s Place in Batavia, before dedicating her energy and care for the next many years at the Valley Sheltered Workshop until December 2009. It was the perfect place for a woman with an unlimited amount of love to give, and it didn’t take long for her to adopt “her kids” as her own. They adopted her as well, and the legend of Grandma grew exponentially.

Later she was featured in several newspaper articles lauding her hard work and determination, and deemed her the reason for the continued success of the shelter. After meeting Grandma, no one was ever the same, and the mark she left on the hearts and minds of all she knew will last for generations and beyond.

She is survived by her son, Tom (Deborah Lee) Crook of Elburn; seven grandchildren, Ted Crook, Jenny (Jason) Peak, Billy Norton, Eleni (Mark) Zelazoski, Cynthia Higgins, Kit Crook and Cody Crook; seven great-grandchildren, Emma Peak, Danielle Norton and her daughter, Lilly Ann; William Norton Jr., Brandy Norton, Joey Melby, Ashley Zelazoski and Derek Zelazoski; one sister, Charlene Terlecki; many nieces, nephews and a countryside of “family” that will never forget her.

She is preceded in death by her parents; husband, William; daughter, Linda Runge; son, Willy (Doreen) Crook; sister, Kaye Brogie; and brother, Ed Reinink.

A memorial service will be held to celebrate her life on Saturday, July 31, at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn, at 10 a.m. Interment will follow at Lily Lake Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in hers name to benefit Valley Sheltered Workshop and other favorite charities. Checks may be made to the “Donna Crook Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at