Pearl Jacqulyn “PJ” Ketchmark, 83, of Minonk, IL passed away at 10:05 p.m. on Friday, April 8, 2022 at the Apostolic Christian Home of Roanoke, where she had resided since May 2020.
PJ was born on November 12, 1938 at Alton, IL, a daughter of Loyd E. and Pearl A. Teipel Davis and a little sister to Don and Louise. She married Thomas D. Ketchmark Sr. on August 12, 1961 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Minonk. He died on December 28, 2006; they were married for 45 wonderful years.
Survivors include their three daughters: Colleen (Wayne) Weber, Christie (Randy) Ruestman and Cindy (Craig) Meyer all of Minonk; and nine grandchildren: Morgan (Rick) Koehler, Jordan (Jon) Meyer, Trent (Tracy) Ruestman, Cody (fiancé Brittney Burkett) Weber, Logan (Sammy) Weber, Abby Jo Weber, Zach Meyer, Nick Meyer and Kenzie Meyer. Also surviving are eleven great-grandchildren: Cali, Braxton, Ricki and Clayton Koehler, Lincoln & Hattie Meyer, Bentley Weber & Greyson Weber-Burkett, Griffin Weber, and Blake & Claire Machado.
She was preceded in death by her husband; her parents; a son, Thomas D. Jr. in 2017; a brother, Donald A. Davis; a sister, Louise Medlin and a granddaughter-in-law, Lindsay Weber.
After graduating from Illinois State Normal University in 1960, PJ became a Minonk citizen and started her teaching career in Roanoke where she taught 5th grade for 2 years. After taking a few years off to raise their kids while they were young, she lovingly taught Kindergarten at Minonk-Dana-Rutland for 21 years, and then Fieldcrest for 1 year, before retiring in 1993. While teaching, she proposed, developed and conducted a program to allow high school students to participate as classroom aides in her classroom. These years gave her the privilege of teaching approximately 1,250 children, many of whom called her “Mrs. Ketchup”! Being the passionate teacher she was, she also taught Catechism at St Patrick’s Church for 10 years. Teaching was her passion and it showed by the many times her family has heard “Your mom was my favorite teacher” (which never gets old) and by the lights that burned late at night in her classroom preparing for the next school day. In retirement, she taught swim aerobics and organized many fun-learning trips for groups at their Florida resort. She was a dedicated learner too, taking college classes well into her retirement years to “just learn”.
Her heart was always kind, her manner was always patient, she was humble, and a listener extraordinaire, who was very caring, thoughtful, and giving. She loved playing cards, traveling (which always included a history lesson), polka dancing & line dancing, music, puzzles, studying maps, going to the movies, sharing newspaper clippings, reading, camping and there was never a plastic bag she didn’t recycle -- all the while managing her many sticky notes and perfectly-handprinted lists to stay organized.
PJ and Tom spent their retired winters in Rockledge, FL and their summers and early falls at Kitchie Landing Resort near Blackduck, MN. When back home in Minonk, she was the “phone lady” for her daughters’ candy business, Minonk Chocolate Company; a job she thoroughly enjoyed until 2019. PJ and Tom’s dedication to the community was recognized in 2002 with them being selected as the Grand Marshals for Minonk’s 4th of July parade.
But of all these efforts, most important to her was her family, grandkids, great-grandkids, friends and her faith. She greeted everyone with a warm smile and sent them on their way with a heartfelt “God bless you”.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, April 15, 2022 at Ruestman Harris Funeral Home, Minonk. Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 16, 2022 at the funeral home with burial following at Minonk Twp. Cemetery. Deacon Joe Knapp will officiate. To observe Easter Holy Week while honoring PJ’s Catholic beliefs, a Memorial Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on Monday April 18, 2022 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Minonk, where PJ was a member. Franciscan Friars will officiate.
Her family would especially like to thank the staff at Apostolic Christian Home of Roanoke and VITAS Hospice for the excellent care given to their Mom.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the family who will distribute them to PJ’s many charities. Online tributes and condolences may be made at www.ruestmanharrisfuneralhome.com.