Grace J. Stilling of Cambridge, age 93, passed away in her sleep on July 29, 2020, at home on her farm. She was born on March 1, 1927, on the Irish Prairie in McHenry, Illinois, the daughter of Thomas and Grace (Doherty) Bolger. She attended Prairie Country School with her siblings. Grace graduated from McHenry High School in 1944 and was voted as class graduation speaker. On Nov. 29, 1947, she married a neighbor boy, Harold Stilling, Sr., at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in McHenry, Illinois.
She is survived by her nine children: Mary Ann (Len) Martinez of Fox Lake, Illinois; Harold Jr of Cambridge; Peter (Rebecca) of Lake Mills, Peggy (Tim) Schuenke of Oconomowoc; James (Maria) of Downers Grove, Illinois; Diane (Scott) Althaus of Madison; Michele (Jim) Kieckhaefer of Pewaukee; Sandra (Scott) Gorman of Madison; and Cynthia (Chris) Gannon of The Villages, Florida; 22 grandchildren Michele, Kris, Joe, Beth, Bill, Bob, PJ, Kait, Matt, Claire, Tom, Dan, Sean, Meghan, Kelly, Laura, Catherine, Ryan, Kristen, Michael, Maggie and Mary; 32 great grandchildren; brother, William Bolger; sisters, Margaret Carey, Rita (Ray) Gaylord; and sister-in-law, Kathryn Nye Bolger.
She was preceded in death by her loving husband, Harold J. Stilling; her parents; daughter-in-law, Christine (Martin) Stilling; brothers, Walter (Gov) and Thomas Bolger; four sisters, Vivian Eastman, Eleanor Sullivan, Mabel Weber, Ann Miller; and several loved in-laws.
Prior to being a farm wife, Grace took the train into Chicago and worked as a secretary on State Street for a few years. She always loved shopping with her friends on Michigan Avenue and enjoying a special lunch at the Walnut Room at Marshall Fields. All her life she was an avid sports fan and kept the score book for her husband and brothers’ baseball team, the McHenry Shamrocks. She attended numerous children, grandchildren, and great grandchildrens’ baseball, softball, volleyball, football, and soccer games as well as gymnastics meets, concerts, and plays. She followed the Wisconsin Badgers and remained a lifelong Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls fan, much to the chagrin of many of her children and son-in-laws. Grace loved being a farm wife. For all but a short time after she was married, she lived on a farm. She was born on the Bolger family farm, part of The Irish Prairie.
After marrying, she moved to the Stilling family farm across the fields on Route 31 outside of McHenry, and then for the last 48 years on London Road between Cambridge and Lake Mills. There was nothing more important to Grace than her husband and her family. Grace tirelessly supported the farming life she loved so dearly. For her 80th birthday, her children compiled all of the family’s favorite recipes with stories and pictures titled, “Let’s Say Grace” which she proudly treasured. Grace was a member of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, the Council of Catholic Women, the Townline Mother’s Club, and volunteered for over 25 years at the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Lake Mills. She was an avid card player and loved playing bridge in multiple bridge groups. She was also known to play a mean game of Scrabble.
After a debilitating stroke in December 2016, Grace returned to her farm and was cared for around-the-clock by her son, Peter, as her main caregiver, the rest of her family, as well as various non-family week-end caregivers. The love and care she received while remaining in her home gave her family over three years of her loving heart and smile. Caregiving for the elderly is often challenging; Peter taught us all how to care-give with grace and compassion. Our family is beyond grateful to all those who helped support us, including our spouses and children, thus allowing our mother to have her last wish granted, which was to remain at home, on the farm, until she found eternal peace.
There was a private family funeral on Friday, July 31 at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Lake Mills that was live streamed for family and friends to join in on the funeral mass in celebration of her life. A private burial will follow at Kroghville Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Grace’s name to St. Vincent De Paul Society and St. Francis Xavier Church, both of Lake Mills.