Carol Ruth Proeger, 90, of Prophetstown, IL, passed away peacefully Thursday, September 8, 2022, at her home surrounded by her family. Cremation rites have been accorded and a private family burial service will be held at a later date.
Carol was born August 5, 1932, in Sterling, Illinois, to Herman and Luceille Oltman. She was educated in the Rock Falls, Illinois, School System, then later attended Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, where she pursued an education in Home Economics. During her time at ISU, she met and fell in love with Linden Proeger. They were married in Rock Falls, Illinois, at Immanuel Lutheran Church on December 27, 1951. To this union, four children were born; Wayne, Dale, Scott, LinMarie.
The family lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Somerville, Texas, before settling in Prophetstown, Illinois, on the homeplace Carol’s grandfather, George Leuckhard (Lickhard), built. In 1978, the land was purchased by Commonwealth Edison, so they picked up their house and barn and moved them across the road where they still reside.
During their 70 years together, Carol and her husband Linden opened up their home and their heart to several foster children.
Carol and her husband owned and operated Sherwood Forest Christmas Tree Farm from 1977-2004. They were members of the Illinois Christmas Tree Association for several years. They provided their church with a Christmas tree, wreath, garland, etc. every year even after they closed. Choosing a Christmas tree from Sherwood Forest and anticipating that hot cup of chocolate was an event that many enjoyed. One of the fond memories at Sherwood Forest was when a couple held their wedding ceremony in costume fitting the name. It was a gorgeous and unique wedding complete with a horse-drawn carriage.
Carol was a member of the First Lutheran Church in Prophetstown, Illinois. She held several positions during her active years. Carol had a beautiful voice and enjoyed sharing her talent by participating in choir and teaching Sunday school music, and she also sang at weddings, funerals, and other special events. She also served as President of the Lutheran Women’s Conference in the past. Before joining the First Lutheran Church in Prophetstown, Carol was an active member of Yorktown Lutheran Church where she also served as choir and superintendent.
Serving in the community was something that came naturally. Carol served as president of the Erie library board when the new library was built. Her and her husband planted a huge garden every year. They shared the fruits of their labor with the local food bank, nursing homes, and their church family. Every year at Thanksgiving time you could be sure to see them in the lighted Christmas parade held in Prophetstown, Illinois. The caboose Linden built can still be seen yet today during the Lighted Christmas parade.
Carol worked with the Illinois Secretary of State where people from Sri Lanka stayed at their farm to see how the small farmers operated. She also worked with a group that brought Japanese students to the Midwest to visit and stay at their farm for a week.
Carol enjoyed canning, cooking, and spending time with her children and grandchildren. Over the years, Carol graced her family and friends with her cooking. Some family favorites that stand out were her canned ‘Sweet Chunks,’ Pickle Relish, Pickled Beets, Dill Pickles, Catsup, and Spiced Crab Apples. We must also include her Oatmeal Cake, German Chocolate Cake, Potluck Goulash, and her amazing Angel Food Cake. She always told us the secret to making a perfectly delicious angel food cake was doing it all by hand and from scratch. And she was right!
One of Carol’s favorite memories was one Christmas when they had Karl, Stella, and Abby all there with the family. Stella and Abby were from Thanksgiving Fellowship visits before. They were from Ethiopia, and Karl was a foreign exchange student staying with them from Sweden. Abby gave Karl a sticker as a present. It said, “Day Sleeper.” We all laughed so hard. The one time of the year that brought Carol so much joy was at Christmas. The whole family would come together under one roof to celebrate and reminisce. Love and laughter filled the house!
Carol loved the Big Band era and watching the Lawrence Welk Show. She wasn’t a big fan of country music; however, she loved listening to Marty Robbins. Her favorite song of his was ‘A White Sport Coat and A Pink Carnation.’ She also loved the Lennon Sisters, “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window” was just one of the many songs she loved. Some of her favorite hymns were ‘The Old Rugged Cross,’ ‘Blessed Assurance,’ and ‘In the Garden.’
Her favorite scriptures: Matthew 22: 36-40 Jesus replied “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Carol believed this scripture was the MOST important verse in the Bible. She said if we remember to always respond in love, we will naturally keep all other commandments.
Survivors include her husband Linden; her two sons, Wayne (Barb) Proeger and Dale (Darlene) Proeger of Prophetstown; one daughter, LinMarie (Kendall) Stephenson of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Foster daughter, Loretta (Robert) Russo of Palm Bay, Florida; three grandsons, Bobby (Alisha) Proeger of Hutto, Texas; Daniel Proeger of Hutchinson, Kansas; and Matthew Stephenson of Sunnyvale, California; four granddaughters, Julia (Richard) Harris of Rochelle, Illinois; Tracy (Michael) Lee of San Antonio, Texas; Sarah Shapiro of Pacifica, California; and Rebecca (Ryan) Kaufman of Indianapolis, Indiana; Six great-grandsons, Fenton Lee, Keegan Lee, and Kyler Lee of San Antonio, Texas; Logan Proeger of Hutto, Texas; Reece Harris of Rochelle, Illinois; and Ezra Kaufman of Indianapolis, Indiana; Six great-granddaughters, Kaitlyn Proeger and Ellie Proeger of Hutto, Texas; Annalyce Harris and Zoe Harris of Rochelle, Illinois; Ebony Wilson and Wendy Wilson of Chicago, Illinois; and two sisters, Joan DeWeerth of Mendota, Illinois and Jean Margheim of Rochelle, Illinois.
She was preceded in death by her son, Scott D. Proeger; her father, Herman Oltman; her mother, Luceille Lickhard Oltman; her grandparents, Louis & Anna Oltman and George & Leora Lickhard; and her two brother-in-laws, Al Deweerth and Arthur Margheim.
Family and friends are invited to share memories and express condolences on her Memory Wall.