Lu Anna (Mann) Kellums, 99 - Herrin, Illinois
With mixed sadness and gratitude for a life well-lived, we announce the death of our 99-year-old mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Lu Anna (Mann) Kellums.
Grandma Kellums passed away peacefully in the early morning of July 31, 2022, in her own home. Luanna* was born in Bible Grove, IL nearly a century ago on May 1, 1923, to Charley and Ruth (Roberts) Mann. She attended a one-room schoolhouse and told stories of walking 2.5 miles to get there, including riding horseback at times. LuAnne completed school up to grade eleven. Afterwards, she went to work as a housekeeper for a dentist’s family in Flora, IL. LouAnna’s responsibilities that included wearing a uniform and learning how to run a traditional Jewish household that were very different from her own Christian farm girl upbringing, and the experience stuck with her.
LuAnna worked in St. Louis at the Curtis Wright Airplane Factory making parts and packing shells from 1942-1943. LuAnne married Lester Kellums on March 29, 1943, in St. Charles, Missouri. After the war, they moved to her hometown and began a family, giving birth to their first son in the same house where she and her dad were born. Luann was baptized in 1955 at the Christian Church in Flora, IL. She raised three children, Jim, Nancy, and Mark.
LuAnne held other roles throughout her career including server at a restaurant, homemaker, but spent the longest time working at Herrin Hospital, spanning 31 years. She began in a position as a cook and invested in courses to become a dietary clerk. She took seriously the responsibility of caring for patients, and really enjoyed her work. She was a hard worker, and everyone loved her there. Lou Ann loved serving at the hospital so much, she chose not to retire until the age of 77.
LuAnne loved company. She was always welcoming, funny, could tell a good joke, and appreciated others’ good jokes. She was sassy, and witty, and instilled that in others. For years she said she had “everything she needed” and the only thing she asked for was ‘help’ with different projects and tasks. She received lots of assistance from her daughters-in-law, her favorite son-in-law, and her children and Lou Ann was often a sidekick on any adventure to complete those projects. Grandma always presented with her hair done-up, liked bling, sparkly jewelry, and always had her lipstick on as she often reminded us, “you never know where you’ll end up at the end of the day” This served her well, as one year LuAnna and her youngest son took a detour and ended up in the local Fourth-of July parade, and she looked as if she could have been the grand marshal, riding in a white Corvette and all.
Lou Anne loved surprises, loved gifts, loved compliments. She tended to do everything fast. Luann baked a mean blackberry cobbler, could play cards (particularly rummy or Uno) for hours. However, she did not like to lose. LuAnne loved anything fun. When her grandchildren were younger, Grandma Kellums would generously put coins, and sometimes bills, in plastic eggs for Easter egg hunts, which made it pretty exciting for everyone, especially friends who would visit for holidays during teenage years.
Luann was always “ready to go.” In her younger years, and even in her later years, it was quite common for her to say, “let me grab my purse” when asked to go on a journey. She travelled to all 48 contiguous states, Canada, and Mexico and proudly had photos standing next to several of the ‘world’s largest’ items over the past century. LuAnna would easily join for a day trip or longer, especially if it involved flowers. Gardening was a passion and one that she inspired in others. Taking "flower vacations" (a term coined out of disgust by her youngest grandson on a trip to the botanical gardens in St. Louis that became a common phrase among family members) to nurseries with her daughter, daughter–in-law, and granddaughter, to find a perennial within the Tri-state area they didn’t have in their yards, was an often-anticipated adventure. Luann wasn’t a member of a garden club, but members of the local garden club would sometimes come by her house to peruse her flower beds. She also was featured in the local paper once, having an article written about her because of the flower garden she kept.
LuAnne was a faithful attender of reunions, and seems to have good family genes, with one aunt on her dad’s side of the family living to 106. Lu Anna was preceded in death by her parents, her older sister Mildred, who died in infancy, and her older brother, Robert (Bob), and her former spouse, Lester. In addition, Luann outlived most of her distant relatives and childhood friends.
Lou Ann has three children who carry on her legacy: Jim (and Deb) Kellums, Nancy (and Richard) Eisenhauer, and Mark (and Pattie) Kellums, and six grandchildren, some who Grandma would always ask, “why’d you have to move so far away?”; Chris Eisenhauer, Ryan (and Michelle) Eisenhauer, Angelo (and Stephany) Aldrighetti, Mandy (and Andre) Baraka, Kyle Kellums, Ashleigh (and Cody) Maze; 13 great-grandchildren; 2 great-great-grandchildren; and many great-grand dogs that visited over the years. In addition, Lou Anna has numerous cousins, nephews, and nieces including Marilee (Mann) Staples, with whom she had a special relationship and talked on the phone almost daily.
Grandma Kellums’ grandchildren want to extend a sincere thank you to her children and in-laws (their parents), who affectionately took care of our precious family matriarch over the past few years. Grandma was determined that she stay in her own home, and everyone worked hard to support her in this decision up until her final day on earth. We know that she’s been “ready to go” for a while now, and we are thankful that she joined her family and loved ones already in Heaven.
A family memorial, storytelling, and prayer service, that will probably involve music will be held in the near future to celebrate Grandma’s life. If you wish to join the family in honoring Lu Anna’s memory; wear something sparkly, watch a red bird, chase a butterfly, go on a “flower vacation” (e.g. walk through a flower nursery, or drive through a neatly-landscaped neighborhood and stop and ask someone about a particular bloom), plant a flower, or play a game (or twenty) of rummy or Uno with people you care about. Finally, let others around you know that you love them more!
*Note: over the years, family members noticed variations used in the spelling of her name (e.g. Luanna, Luanne, LouAnn, LuAnn, Luanne, Lu Anne, etc.) in different places, and Grandma never seemed to correct, or complain - and up until checking her birth certificate for verification to write this obituary, family members were uncertain of the actual spelling. So, to honor her uniqueness and the amusement of this experience, we used as many different spellings as we remembered.