Shirley Matheny

By on March 28, 2013

Shirley Matheny, 77, passed away peacefully on Friday March 22, 2013, at Greenfields of Geneva.

Shirley was born Oct. 21, 1935, in Kankakee, the daughter of Howard and Miley (Grisham) Unger.

She grew up in Kankakee and attended local schools. Shirley graduated Salutatorian from Kankakee High School with the class of 1935. She then attended Eastern Illinois University, where she studied to be a teacher, but found the apple of her eye instead.

Shirley and Charles “Chuck” Matheny were united in marriage on Aug. 5, 1956, in Kankakee. Their family grew by one when Stephen was born a year later.

They began their new life together in Kankakee, and there was nothing that could separate them, except the United States Marines, who called upon Chuck after his ROTC training. They were stationed throughout the U.S. and only separated briefly while Chuck was stationed for a time in Okinawa, Japan. Afterward, they were reunited near Paris Island and added a son, Jeffery, in 1959. Finally a daughter, Susan, made the family complete in 1963.

Shirley made a career out of caring for her family and making their house a home. She was a cleaning machine, making sure that even with three children, everything was in its place.

Shirley was a consummate room mother for her children’s classrooms throughout their school years. When it came to dinner time, her home-cooked meals still linger in the halls of memory. As grandchildren were added to the mix, grandma, or “nana,” as she was known, opened their eyes to the magical wonders of her kitchen and helped them to make the best chocolate chip cookies ever.

Shirley was a member of the Riverside Auxiliary and volunteered for the American Red Cross. She was on the board of directors for the Kankakee YMCA, as well.

Shirley’s hands could grace the keys of a piano like no other. Her melodies were often classical, but Christmas music was her favorite. When her hands were idle, which was seldom, you could find her reading. She also was accomplished at cross stitch, but was a professional when it came to shopping.

She is survived by her loving husband, Chuck Matheny; three children, Stephen Matheny of East Peoria, Ill., Jeffrey (Lynne) Matheny of Canton, Mich., and Susan (Joel) Speckman of Elburn; eight grandchildren, Milyne (Charles) Gaden and their children, Charles and Johnathan, Sarah (Kris) Roe, Caleb (Katelyn) Matheny, Meghan (Josh) Wolfe, Molly Speckman, Alexander Speckman, Claire Matheny and Emily Matheny; and several nieces and nephews.

She is preceded in death by her parents, Howard and Miley Unger; one brother, Kenneth Unger; and one daughter-in-law, Julie Matheny.

Visitation will take place Thursday, March 28, at 2:30 p.m. at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn. A memorial service celebrating Shirley’s life will begin at 4 p.m. at the funeral home. Rev. Ernst Rex, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Lily Lake, will officiate services.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in Shirley’s name to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association and Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). Checks may be made to the two groups and mailed in care of the Shirley Matheny Family P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or at