Blanche “Jan” Mathers (née Wilkins), age 77, of Macomb, Ill., passed away peacefully on Thursday, November 28 after spending a lovely day with friends and family; beloved wife of Richard Mathers for 54 years; loving mother of Suzanne (Robert) Fuhr, Scott (Yana Fisher) Mathers, and Sara Mathers; proud grandmother of John Jacob Fuhr; dear sister of the late Addison Wilkins; also predeceased by loving parents, Roland and Lavalette Wilkins; aunt, cousin, friend of many, Jan will be dearly missed.
Jan was born in Roanoke, Virginia on September 13, 1942 and she grew up in nearby Farmville. Her early life there was not always easy. Her father passed when she was four years old. She felt great support from both her grandmother and from Elizabeth, her grandmother’s housekeeper. She earned a degree in social sciences at Richmond Professional Institute in 1965. She met Richard there and they married the day after graduation. Her brother Addison died the next year.
Jan’s role as wife and mother gave her great pleasure. She took a lot of pride in her children, grandchildren and family and spent many years focusing on the hard work of being a mother and housewife. Jan loved arts, music and culture and was an active patron in those arenas, making sure that Suzanne, Scott and Sara played classical instruments (whether they wanted to or not). While raising children she worked for a time at the McDonough County Health Department and was active in the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Macomb, University Women, the League of Women Voters, and the McDonough County Democrat Committee where she and Rich won the Truman Award for long-term service. Later in life, when her grandchildren John and Jacob became active in sports, she expanded her interests, to varying degrees of success. John and Jacob got the pleasure of Jan as a defense attorney, she was always quick to take their side and argue with their parents in their favor. She was quick to fund any cultural experience and enjoyed shopping for the ever-growing boys.
She opened her heart and home to various Western Illinois University students, many of whom majored in music. Bao Ze Qiang, a clarinet student from China, Ju Hai Kim, a piano student from Korea, and the late Sara Christensen (Pschigoda), a french horn student from Michigan all lived with Jan and Rich. Jan attended as many of their concerts as possible and included them in all family activities. Nang Khine Zan Lin and husband Kyaw Pyke Tyae and Hnin Ei Aung, all pre-med majors from Myanmar, also spent years living with Jan and Rich while finishing their degrees and have maintained contact. Nang visited with Jan on her last day of life. Interaction with these students was a great joy for Jan. Many affectionately speak of Jan as being their American mother.
In the last years of her life, Jan spent a lot of time in the Elms Nursing home where she enjoyed learning about the personal lives of the incredibly caring staff. She shared in their joys and reported them to her family members with pride. Our heartfelt thanks to all the Elms staff who took care of her on and off over the course of several years.
A celebration of life and short service will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on December 8, 2019 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Macomb. In lieu of flowers memorial donations in Jan’s name to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Macomb, Loaves and Fishes, or any music or art program of the donor’s choice are appreciated. Dodsworth-Piper-Wallen Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Please sign the guestbook and leave condolences at www.dodsworthfh.com