Ralph L. Jones, Jr. – Benton, IL

Ralph LaVern Jones, Jr., age 44, of Benton, Illinois, passed away at 9:00 p.m. Saturday, February 3, 2024, from injuries sustained in a head-on motor vehicle accident that occurred in Perry County, Illinois.

Ralph was born on July 20, 1979, in Benton; the son of Ralph LaVern Jones, Sr. and Cheryl S. (Broadway) Jones. On July 4, 2012, he married Zelma G. Willmore, together they shared eleven years of marriage, until her death on December 13, 2023.

Ralph was a former employee of Continental Tire of Mt. Vernon. He also formerly worked in the heating and air conditioning business while living in Georgia.
He enjoyed working on vehicles, shooting guns, riding four-wheelers with his son, hunting and fishing.

Surviving is his son Damian Jones of Benton, IL; his father Ralph LaVern Jones, Sr. and wife Elizabeth of West City, IL; three sisters: Melissa Worley and husband Ron of Benton, IL, Patti Hartleb and husband Terry of Tamaroa, IL, Staci Broadway of West City; his mother-in-law Loretta May Willmore of Benton, IL; and several nieces, nephews, aunts, and uncles, two fur babies Raven and Westlynn; and a grand fur baby Lilly Lou.

He was preceded in death by his mother Cheryl Jones; his wife Zelma Jones; a stepdaughter Elizabeth Obrecht; and his father-in-law William Wesley Willmore.
Funeral services will be held at 1:00 p.m. Friday, February 9, 2024, at the Leffler Funeral Home of Benton, IL, with Pastor Michael Jeter officiating. Burial will follow in the Pleasant Valley Cemetery East of Thompsonville, IL. Visitation will be from 11:00 a.m. Friday until the funeral hour at 1:00 p.m. at the Leffler Funeral Home of Benton.

The family would prefer memorial contributions be made in memory of Ralph to his family to assist with expenses.
To leave online condolences to the family, or to share memories of Ralph, visit www.lpfuneralhome.com.

Judith (Judy) Rose Dixon – Benton, IL

Judith (Judy) Rose Dixon went to be with her Lord on Friday, February 2, 2024.

She was born December 9, 1937, to Van and Lodema McCommons. She was married to Billy G. Dixon for 64 years. She was a wife, mother, grandmother, great-Grandmother, and home maker. Judy worked as a secretary for Country Companies Insurance before her retirement.

She was active in the Benton First United Methodist Church for more than 65 years. She is survived by daughter, Valerie Potts; son, Clark (Alicia) Dixon; grandchildren, Bryson (Alexa) Potts; Sydney (Cole) Naseman; and Sara Dixon; great-grandson, Hudson Potts; brother Wesley (Lois) McCommons; sister-in-law, SaLinda McCommons; and Judy and Bill’s favorite son, BJ. She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, brothers George and Steve, and sisters Vanita and Mary. She was known for her legendary apple dumplings.

In lieu of flowers and gifts, the family suggests donations to the Benton First United Methodist Church.

Graveside services will be 1 p.m. Friday, February 9, 2024, at the Masonic & Oddfellows Cemetery in Benton, Illinois with Pastor Jesse Hinds officiating. Visitation will be graveside from 12 noon to 1 p.m.

For more information or to send online condolences please visit www.mortonjohnstonfuneralhome.com

Heather Wysong – Benton, Illinois

Heather Marie Wysong, age 36, of Benton, passed away at 5:37 a.m. Friday, February 2, 2024, at the Barnes-Jewish Hospital of St. Louis.

Heather was born on October 24, 1987, in West Frankfort, Illinois, the daughter of Jolisa Carmon. She married William Joseph Wysong on September 5, 2015.

She was a homemaker and enjoyed listening to music, fishing, watching her television shows including Dateline, CSI, and murder mysteries. Most of all she enjoyed being with her friends and family.

Surviving is her loving husband William Joseph Wysong of Benton, IL, two daughters: Audrey Elizabeth Webb and Athens Grace Webb, both of Benton, IL; four step-children: Dakota Wysong, Alissa Wysong, Gage Wysong and Evan Wysong, all of Benton, IL; three grandchildren: Noah, Liam and Lilly; her mother Jolisa Carmon of Benton, IL; two sisters: Regeanna Carmon of Benton, IL, Heidi Carmon of Bluford, IL; nieces and nephews including: Alexis, Alayna, Addie, Rhett, Max and Evelyn; a great-niece Alivia; mother-in-law Janet Roberts of Freeman Spur, IL; father-in-law David Wysong of Akin, IL; a brother-in-law David Wysong and wife Dawn of Freeman Spur, IL.

She was preceded in death by her maternal grandparents Beverly Howell and Wesley Frain.

Funeral services will be held at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, February 7, 2024, at the Leffler Funeral Home of Benton. Burial services will follow in the Masonic & Odd Fellows Cemetery of Benton. Visitation will be from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, at the Leffler Funeral Home of Benton.

Memorial contributions may be made to assist the family with expenses, payable to the Leffler Funeral Home, 401 East Main Street, Benton, Illinois 62812.

To leave online condolences to the family, or to share memories of Heather, go to www.lpfuneralhome.com

Merlene Powenski – Benton, Illinois

Mrs. Merlene Powenski, age 87, of Benton, passed away at 5:52 p.m. Friday, February 2, 2024, at the Benton Healthcare and Rehabilitation of Benton, IL.

Her wishes are to be cremated, with no public services.

Leffler Funeral Home of Benton; is in charge of the cremation arrangements.

Mrs. Powenski was born on March 10, 1936, in Franklin County, IL; the daughter of Henry and Meredith Eickleman. On May 12, 1956, she married Marion Frank Powenski, together they shared 67 years of marriage.

She was a homemaker and enjoyed visiting with family and friends, sewing, cooking, relaxing, and watching television. Before their health failed them, Marion and Merlene would root for their Benton Rangers, and would attend most if not all home basketball games. Most of all, Merlene enjoyed spending time with her newest great-granddaughter Nyla.

Merlene was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church of Benton.

She is survived by her loving husband Marion Frank Powenski of Benton, IL; a daughter Linda Powenski of Benton, IL; a son Mike Powenski and wife Cindy of Johnston City, IL; three grandchildren: John Gouge, Jr. and wife Rebecca of Kalamazoo, MI, Adam Gouge of Iowa, Natosha Plumlee and husband Bryan of Valier, IL; six great-grandchildren: Ava, Aiden, Deacon, Michael, Faith, Castiel, and Nyla.

She was preceded in death by her parents.

Memorial contributions in memory of Merlene may be made to the Benton Healthcare Resident Activity Fund, and will be accepted at the Leffler Funeral Home, 401 East Main Street, Benton, IL 62812.

To leave online condolences to the family, or to share memories of Mrs. Powenski, visit www.lpfuneralhome.com.

Remembering Asbury and North Street

“Ask yourself how old would you be
If you didn’t know the day you were born”

From “Don’t Let the Old Man In” by Toby Keith

By Jim Muir

I want to begin today by asking you to ponder the poignant question raised by country star Toby Keith in his classic song, “Don’t let the old man in.” While you might have a totally different perspective on that powerful lyric, what I take from that line is simple. Are we all expected to act a certain way just because there is a number attached to us that is based on the day we were born?

Asbury and the Dugger sisters (clockwise from bottom left) Susie, Connie, Darby and Nancy.

I heard that song for the first time recently and that single, simple line has caused me to do a lot of thinking and soul-searching. In short, should we act, dress, eat, talk, retire, sleep and interact with others based on “the day you were born.” In short, I believe our age is a number and we’re only as old as we feel! In other words, being a certain age isn’t a doesn’t mean we should be grouchy, irritable or quit work and things we enjoy doing.
That little blast about the past was prompted by a column I wrote last month lamenting the fact that young folks don’t play outside anymore and that 21st Century gizmos and gadgets have sadly taken the place of those wonderful sandlot games of (name the sport) that many of us enjoyed in the days of our youth. Many people reached out to me about that column, all people in my age group, and agreed that with the loss of neighborhood interaction with friends we have lost something very special through the decades. Sadly, I don’t think it’s something that will ever be regained.

I want to continue on that same theme this month. Let me explain!

From the time I was born until I left home at the ripe old age of 18, I lived on North Street in Sesser. There were two locations on that wonderful little street, but North Street was home and still holds countless great memories for me. Here’s a little geography lesson on North Street. If you were to travel north on Route 148 out of Sesser, three blocks from the 4-Way stop is where North Street intersects with the state highway. Even as a kid I always found it interesting that North Street runs east and west?! There’s no wonder I am sometimes confused!

From the time I was born until I was 12 years old my family lived in a small house on North Street, east from Route 148. Then we moved three blocks west to a much nicer and larger house that was one block west of Route 148, but still on North Street. Interestingly, at both locations there was a vacant lot that became a hangout for youngsters from the neighborhood for games of every competition imaginable. If you’re young and reading this and you have every wondered why your parents or grandparents are stubborn and hard-headed, look no further than those highly-spirited and competitive neighborhood games from yester-year where determination, grit, toughness and a will-to-win were honed.

Mr. Asbury sitting on his front steps with Susie Dugger.

My recollection from those days on North Street started me thinking of the many people from that neighborhood and one elderly gentleman also came to mind. Directly across the street from the first house I lived in on North Street was a simple, gray house with a front porch. An elderly man that all the neighborhood kids called “Asbury” lived there alone. I have thought often that I wished I had taken notes or kept a journal during those childhood days so I could recall exact details about Asbury. I just remember him as being a kind, gentle, always-smiling man who loved the kids in the neighborhood. In fact, that vacant lot where we congregated, often more than a dozen kids, belonged to Asbury. And it never failed that when we had one of our epic games of wiffle ball, football or maybe even Red Rover, Asbury would come outside with a bowl of candy, a plate of cookies and a pitcher of lemonade for us. Sadly, I don’t know if parents would allow the interactions we had with Asbury to happen here in 2024. I guess that’s something else we’ve lost along the way.

While the memories of my friends from that wonderful neighborhood – the Dugger sisters (Darby, Nancy, Connie and Susie), Lecil, Terry, Rick and Debbie Witcher, Rick Basso, Jeff Wilkerson, Joe and Shelley Marlo, Roger Jones, Lanny Allen, Kevin and Greg Minor, my brother Billy and many others are warm and vivid in my mind, thoughts of our friend Asbury also provide wonderful recollections about the good old days on North Street.

I recently had a conversation with a longtime friend and stories about Asbury surfaced. I was told that he was buried at Paradise Prairie Cemetery, located on Route 154 in Perry County. On a recent day I decided to try to find his grave and without much effort I was able to locate it. As I stood at his gravesite, I studied the names and dates on the gray, marble monument. The information was scant and provided me with a few answers, but also raised more questions.
Asbury was born in 1877 and died in 1963 at the age of 86, so in those days when he wasn’t acting his age and instead was laughing, joking and making lemonade for youngsters he would have been in his 80s. His wife, Mae, was born in 1865 and died in 1955 at the age of 90, so he was a widower during those days. I also found it interesting that Mae was 12 years old than him, but perhaps the one bit of information I gleaned from the monument was the death of an infant child that was born and died in 1915.

Was that Asbury’s only child that had died? And was that why he loved that rag-tag group of heathens on North Street so much? I suppose those questions will remain unanswered, but as I stood at his monument and pondered things like age, mortality, names and dates chiseled in marble, children playing games on vacant lots and wonderful memories, the one constant thought that kept rolling around in my mind is that everybody should have the privilege and joy once during their lifetime of having a friend like Asbury!

Let me leave you today with a question I began this offering with: “How old would you be if you didn’t know the day you were born?

JoAnn Johnson – Christopher, IL

JoAnn Johnson, 83, of Christopher, passed away in Marshall Browning Hospital in DuQuoin with loved ones by her side on January 29, 2024, she left this world to be with the Lord.

She was born on May 5, 1940 in Christopher to Joe Kovach and Grace (Adams) Kovach and they both preceded her in death.

She was a homemaker, a loving and devoted wife, mother and grandmother. She loved to go fishing, camping, and having fun with her family. She attended South Side Baptist Church in Christopher.

She was married to James E. Johnson and he preceded her in death on July 6, 2009.

She is survived by her daughter Debbie and Danny Joplin of Christopher; grandson Greg and Marci Hood of Coello; one sister Mary Steele of Christopher and one brother John and Brenda Kovach of Mulkeytown.

Private Graveside Services will be held at the Harrison Cemetery with Brother Larry Cook officiating.

For more information go to our website www.gilbertfuneralhomes.com

Bette Stubblefield Reynolds-Benton, IL

Bette Bernell Stubblefield was born on January 5, 1946, to Willie and Hazel (Bradley) Stubblefield at their home in Sesser, IL. She grew up in Sesser, and on May 4, 1972, she married Gary Allen Reynolds. Bette and Gary made their home on State Highway 14 east of Benton, IL.

Bette graduated from the School of Technical Careers at SIU-C, and worked as a cosmetologist for five years. She then took a job with the Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals as a secretary at their Benton office, and worked there 30 years until her retirement in 2001.

Bette was a member of the Second Baptist Church in Valier.

Bette was an excellent cook, specializing in baked goods, and always made homemade eggnog for the family gatherings on Christmas Eve over the years.

Bette is survived by her husband, Gary Reynolds and a son, Brandon Reynolds of Benton. She is also survived by three sisters, JoAnn Garner of Herrin, Joyce (Kent) Hodge of Sesser and Gayla Stubblefield of Mt. Vernon, and a brother Richard (Carolyn) Stubblefield of. Mt Vernon. She is also survived by her trusted and beloved friend from childhood, Linda Muir Howell. Bette and Linda met in church in a preschool Sunday School class, went through grade school, high school and cosmetology school as best buds. Their friendship has continued with Linda as a part of her extended family, standing vigil at her bedside, right along with Bette’s husband and siblings during her last illness.

Bette was a doting and loving aunt to the following nieces and nephews who mourn her passing: Dr. Kevin (Myjal) Garner, Kara (Karl) Silge, Kendall (Claire) Garner, Michelle Davis, Lenise (Steve) Sgutt, Jennifer (Ed) Lobenhofer, and Nancy (Paul) Graser.

Bette passed from this life on January 28, 2024, after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in early January. Bette was preceded in death by her daughter, Danielle, her parents, a sister Carolyn Sue Stubblefield, a niece Sara Stubblefield, mother-in-law and father-in-law, Thelma and Ingram Morgan, and a sister-in-law Donna Lampley.

Visitation for Bette will be on Tuesday evening, January 30, 2024, from 5:00 PM until 8:00 PM at Brayfield-Gilbert Funeral Home in Sesser. Funeral Services with Pastor Bill Uhls officiating, will be held on Wednesday January 31, 2024, at 11:00 AM, also at Brayfield’s. Burial will be in Maple Hill Cemetery in Sesser.

Memorials can be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Research Foundation, and will be accepted at the funeral home or mailed to Brayfield-Gilbert Funeral Home, P O Box 624, Sesser, IL 62884.

The family is being served by Steve Gilbert with the Brayfield-Gilbert Funeral Home.

For more information go to our website www.gilbertfuneralhomes.com

Arlene L. Bonthron – Benton, IL

Arlene L. Bonthron, 89, of Benton, passed away at 9:24 p.m., on Wednesday, January 24, 2024, at Heartland Regional Hospital, Marion, IL.

She was born on October 1, 1934, to George and Irene (Bielanski) Denk in Chicago, IL. She married Edward R. Bonthron, Jr., and he preceded her in death.

Arlene is survived by her son, Raymond “Ray” (“Rikki”) Bonthron of Benton, IL; daughter, Linda (“Thomas”) G. Caldwell of Capron, IL; 10 grandchildren; and 10 Great-Grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by parents, George and Irene Denk; and husband, Edward R. Bonthron, Jr.

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Pate Funeral Home, 301 S. Main St., Benton, IL.
Per Arlene’s wishes cremation will take place.

Online condolences can be given at www.patefh.com.

Paul W. Rose – Benton, IL

Mr. Paul Wayne Rose, age 90, passed away at 12:41 p.m. Monday, January 22, 2024, at Helia Healthcare in Benton.

Funeral Services will be held at 1:00 p.m. Thursday, January 25, 2024, at the Leffler Funeral Home of Benton, with Rev. Mark Minor officiating. Visitation will be from 11:00 a.m. Thursday until the funeral hour at 1:00 p.m. at the Leffler Funeral Home. Burial with Military Honors by the Benton American Legion Post #280, V.F.W. Post #2671 and the Army National Guard will follow at the Masonic & Oddfellow Cemetery, of Benton.

Paul was born on May 14, 1933, in Benton, the son of James Paul Rose and Lela (Wilson) Rose. He married the former Judith Ann Nava on July 7, 1958. Together they shared 65 years of marriage.

Mr. Rose served his country in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, where he achieved the rank of Corporal.

For 36 years, along with his partner Fred Hunter, he was the owner and operator of H & R Body Shop of Benton.

Paul was a member of the Benton American Legion Post #280, Life Member and Past-Commander of the VFW Post #2671. He was also a member of the Benton Elks and Boccie Ball Clubs.

He enjoyed fishing, making homemade wine, gardening, woodworking, and genealogy. He and his wife Judy enjoyed their card playing time with friends Don and Betty Aiken. Most of all he enjoyed spending time with his family, especially with his grandsons.

Surviving is his loving wife of 65 years, Judy Rose of Benton, IL; a daughter Laura Richardson and husband Edward of Benton, IL; two grandsons: Eddie Richardson of Benton, IL, Ethan Richardson and wife Miho of Myrtle Beach, SC; a brother Merrill Rose and companion Diane of Benton, IL.

He was preceded in death by his parents, a son James Rose, a grand-daughter Stephanie Richardson, and a brother Curtis Rose.

The family prefers memorial contributions be made to the Benton American Legion Post #280 and will be accepted at the funeral home.

To leave online condolences to the family, or to share memories of Paul; visit www.lpfuneralhome.com

Joseph McCarty-Sesser, IL

On January 15, 2023 Joseph Newton McCarty left this world to be with the Lord and begin his final chapter.

Joe, as most knew him, was loved by so many people. He made a lasting impression wherever he went. From his Cajun accent and hilarious personality, all would remember him. Joe was born September 19, 1944 to Flora and Joseph E McCarty (who preceded him in death) in Pineville, Louisiana. After joining the US Army at age 17 he made a lasting impression with joining the 101st Airborne Division and excelling at Ranger school to becoming a Ranger. Shortly after, he withstood two tours in Vietnam. Where he received several recognitions for his performance and duties as a soldier. Joe was commander at the American Legion in Ridgway, IL for many years and remained an active member in Sesser, IL chapter, when he moved there several years ago. He enjoyed spending time with his friends and making so many memories. Throughout Joe’s life he always worked hard to be a good provider and instill work ethics. He was able to retire from Big Muddy Prison. He also enjoyed hunting, fishing, camping and spending time with family and friends. Always stories to be told.

Joe was always there to help anyone in need. He never asked for anything in return.

He is survived by his children Joseph Newton McCarty Jr. of Junction, IL, Tina Lynn McCarty of Terre Haute, IN, Terry (Christy) Lee McCarty of Ridgeway, IL and Nicholas Keith McCarty of Sesser; step-children Stephanie Smith, Steven Shurtz, Rachel Shurtz, Sarah Urban, Miriam Newman, Christy Cox and Jeffrey Cox; several grandchildren and great grandchildren; two sisters Dollie McCarty Stephens of Louisiana and Margaret McCarty Slayton of Louisiana; two brothers Edwin McCarty of Germany and Joseph Luther “L.J.” McCarty of Florida and several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents and four sisters Carolyn, Josephine, Marjorie and Marion.

Visitation will be on Friday January 26, 2024 from 5:00 PM until 7:00 PM at the Brayfield-Gilbert Funeral Home in Sesser. Graveside services will be in Louisiana.

For more information go to our website www.gilbertfuneralhomes.com

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News