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Our Mom Marie E. Wiltse

Final Harvest

"She was bound to the land from the day of her birth
Her roots anchored in the fertile earth
Nurtured, sustained, by the soil she grew
And her life, like his furrows, ran straight and true.

In faith, each spring, she planted the seeds
In hope, to reap for her family’s needs
With patience, she waited for the harvest to come
To gather the fruits of her labor home.

Ever turning seasons, the years sped past
Till the final harvest came at last
Then claimed anew by beloved son
She was gathered home to be with God."

Barbara W Weber
Our Mom passed away at the Age of 78. She passed peacefully at home on the farm surrounded by love and prayers of family in the early hours of Sunday, August 26, 2018. Her legacy lives on four generations strong. Each year that goes by without her, we think about all that she has taught us. We remember her in every moment and we feel proud to share her knowledge with our families, growing the next generation of Wiltse Farmers.

Mom was born the youngest of seven, on July 26th, 1940, in West Chicago, to proud parents, Henry L. And Mayme L. (White) Theis. She grew up in West Chicago for a time but spent most of her growing up years in Batavia where she attended a one room school house.

Marie was never comfortable with the level of her education, despite the fact that many of her generation only went to school to the eighth grade before returning to the farm and supporting family. This may have been instilled in her the kind of legendary work ethic that followed her every day of her life, and that was evident in everything she did. Losing her father at the age of seven also defined the paths that she would later take.

Marie was no stranger to work and her resume began with the baby-sitting of a number of nieces and nephews, including local families. At the same time, she helped her mother with the vegetable garden which fueled their farm stand. The farm stand grew roots of its own and continues to this day, bigger, better but still staffed by dedicated family members who are proud to continue the tradition that started so long ago.

Marie met the man she would marry on one of her many trips with friends to the Blue Moon. In retrospect, Jerome “Red” Wiltse never had a chance. He may have lost his heart, but he gained Marie’s hand in marriage on June 3, 1961. They began their new life together on Harter Road for a short time until 1965, when they moved to the present family farm on Rt. 38 near County Line Rd. Together with Jerome's cousin, John Hickey, they farmed the family lands around Maple Park.

Marie had a deep and abiding faith with a heart for charity. She always gave to those in need and was an active and faithful member of St. Mary's of the Assumption Catholic Church. There she served on the Cenacle Guild and could always be found in the thick of annual fall festival.

Marie grew up outside in the sunshine and under the bright blue sky. She rode "the ponies", which were really full grown horses, to competitions where she rode western style. Her first best friend, Peg (nee Malone) Hannon was the only one she ever needed for the rest of her life. They grew up together playing in the fields of what is now Fermilab in Batavia. 

In later years, she passed on her hard won knowledge to her children and showed them through her actions what it was to be a hard worker. The vegetable garden grew in size as her kids did the same, she'd take them to local markets and teach them all about the farm life.. 

Her beloved husband passed in 1986, Marie assumed his position in the partnership with John Hickey.  This meant that she had to take on his duties, overseeing the livestock and farming side of the family business. Many people thought, and several actually said, that Marie wouldn't be able to do it. How wrong they were. Marie's steely determination answered any questions as to her abilities. She held steady and calmly helmed all areas of the farm in defiance of any doubt and continued to raise her children to boot!

Marie had an independent soul and was fiercely dedicated to her children. She was a "saver" at heart and an expert in the kitchen, where she not only canned and cooked, but butchered her own chickens. Every holiday the table was laden with the bounty of her hard work, overflowing with great food and greater memories.

No matter where mom went, she had a fixed destination in mind, but often didn't know exactly how to get there, much to her children's chagrin. Many times it was a "scenic" or "round about" way that was taken, often making circles until she found her way. Later in life, she traveled with her siblings to Mexico, took various cruises and trips to Las Vegas. When she wasn't fitfully playing the one arm bandits in Vegas, Marie could be found on the "the boat" in Aurora. 

Marie worked up until her very last years. Every day was filled with tasks to be done, but a "hat" she wore often was one of educator. She was diligent in teaching her grandchildren to help run the farm stand, make change and how to provide excellent customer service. Marie also helped her daughter Kate when she started her own greenhouse business. It's impossible to take a step without seeing the path Marie laid out for future generations. The paths of faith, love, charity and hard work won her many lasting friendships across the countryside and through her years. She is dearly missed and never forgotten.

We love you mom and thank you for your strength, determination, guidance and perseverance. It is our honor to keep your legacy growing.

Our Dad -  Jerome "Red"  Wiltse


I'd like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I'd like to leave an afterglow of smiles when the day is done.

I'd like to leave an echo, whispering softly down the ways, of happy times and laughing times. And bright and sunny days.

I'd like the tears of those who grieve to dry before the sun. 
Of happy memories I leave behind, when the day is done. 
Our dad, Jerome C. "Red" Wiltse passed away on October 23rd, 1986 at the age of 54. He was the son of J. Carrol and Margaret (McCullen) Wiltse. Red attended Maple Park schools and followed in his father's footsteps on the family farm.

On June, 3rd, 1961 he was united in marriage to Marie Theis and they made their home on Harter Rd for a short time before they moved to what would become Wiltse's Farm.  Together with his cousin John Hickey, they farmed the family lands around Maple Park. Well known in the Kaneland farming community, he was a DeKalb-Pfizer Genetics Seed Dealer. He was an active member of the St. Mary's Church in Maple Park where he served as head of the churches farm operations.

He was hard-working and loved his family. He left a void and will long be remembered for all that he was by nature and the grace he gave to everyone who knew him.

We love you dad and are thankful for all you instilled in us growing up on the farm, though your life ended too soon.

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