Marilyn J. Messmore, nee Anderson

Marilyn Jean Anderson Messmore was born October 20, 1923 in Galesburg to Swedish parents (Mattie Ryden Anderson and Elmer Anderson) living on a farm outside Galesburg, Illinois. She had one brother, Dale and one sister, Dorothy. Her mother referred to her as her brown-eyed Susan. Her favorite pastime was drawing. Her school was a one room schoolhouse for elementary children. Elmer was president of the school board. They were members of the Lutheran Church in Galesburg and she was confirmed in Swedish. Her paternal grandparents (Mr. and Mrs. Charles Anderson) lived with them and they grew fruits and vegetables as well as raised farm animals.

Her maternal grandparents had each come from Sweden and met in Chicago. Hans Ryden was a tool and die maker. Jenny was sponsored by a personal assistant to Mrs. Marshall Field. She worked as a maid in Chicago. They were early members of the Ebenezer Lutheran Church in Andersonville, Chicago. They moved to Galesburg for work and their daughter, Mattie, met Elmer there.

Marilyn’s father Elmer, died from an infection after an appendectomy when she was in high school. One of their calves became ill, so Mattie called a veterinarian in the area, Harry L. Messmore, Jr. His wife had also recently died. He had eight children. He made many visits to see the calf and Mattie. They married and moved to Altona, Illinois. That is how Marilyn met Harry, her step-brother and future husband.

Harry joined the Army after high school graduation as valedictorian. Marilyn planned to go to the Art Institute in Chicago. December 1942 they decorated the family tree and went on their first date to a basketball game where his sister sat between them. After the game Harry took Marilyn to see the foxes run.

In the summer he proposed and they were married in November 1943. They stayed in various Army bases while he trained to go to World War II. While he was gone she lived with her grandparents in Andersonville and graduated with a BA in Art Education from the Art Institute of Chicago. When the war was over she taught for a couple of years in Champaign, Illinois at University High School when Harry went to school for pre-med.

Susan was born during pre-med. Curt was born when Harry was in med school. Rex was born during the internship in Detroit, Michigan. Gary was born while Harry was in practice in Arthur, Illinois. Marilyn stayed at home, supporting his practice by answering calls, paying bills, etc. She played bridge, golf and planned her children’s parties, sewed and created Halloween costumes, and was a member of Business and Professional Women and PTA.

After 10 years of general practice Harry went back to specialize. They bought a house in LaGrange where Marilyn joined the Art League, serving as president during the year that the league moved from LaGrange Road to it’s present location on Calendar which required renovation. She began painting again in art classes offered through the league. She belonged to the PTA again. She visited the Art Institute as a school chaperone and taught the art lesson for the field trip for her grandchildren’s school. She was proud that she had paintings displayed at the Art Institute after a juried show at the Union League.

Harry and Marilyn attended many international Hematology Conferences in many countries. She enjoyed meeting people and made many lifelong friends. She used the opportunities of travel for her art interests also. Harry and Marilyn attended many WWII Veterans Reunions. Among his medals are a gold star and the French Foreign Legion Medal of Honor as well as the Cardinal Stritch Medal. He died in November 2011.

Family gatherings at their home were the highlights of her days. Many extended family and friends also visited their home, some with extended visits over the years. They have eight grandchildren, six great-grandchildren with more on the way and a handful of great-great-grandchildren.

Marilyn lived several years in independent living at Bethlehem Woods and at Oak Trace. She had many kind caregivers. Even though Parkinson’s Disease took it’s toll she always gave everyone her beautiful smile.

Visitation Monday, April 3, 2017, 10 A.M. to time of Service 11:30 A.M. at Hitzeman Funeral Home Ltd. 9445 West 31st Street, Brookfield, IL 60513. Interment Kaneville Cemetery, Kaneville. Memorials appreciated to Harry L. Messmore, Jr. Lecture Fund in Hematology and Oncology. Make donations payable to: Loyola University Chicago, Attention: Advancement Department, 2160 S. 1st Avenue, Maywood, IL 60153 or luc.edu/giving. Information 708-485-2000 or www.HitzemanFuneral.com

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Messages of Condolence

  1. jim jordan condolence:

    My condolences to Susan and Gary, and the many family members who loved Marilyn dearly. Hopefully she is now with her beloved Harry, and he can again see her beautiful face. I am going out of the country tomorrow so I will not be able to attend the service. However, I will make a donation to Harry’s lecture fund.


  2. Janice Cox nee Peters condolence:

    I remember your mother well, Susan. She was so welcoming and upbeat when you had friends over. She was proud of all of you and delighted to share stories of your family’s early days. Thinking of you during this difficult time.


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