Eleanor Wilken, age 94, of Lebanon, formerly of Freeport, IL, died peacefully with her family by her side at 6:20 p.m. Friday, January 23, 2015 at Cedar Ridge Healthcare Center in Lebanon. She was born September 26, 1920 in Merrill, Wisconsin, the daughter of the late Palmo G. and Teresa A. (Nerina Ricci) Borelli. She married Dick Wilken August 23, 1943 in North Carolina. He preceded her in death in April 12, 2002. She is survived by two sons: Richard (Mary) Wilken of Lebanon and Clifford (Beth) Wilken of Freeport, IL; two grandchildren: Tamara Wilken of Lebanon and Christelle (Paul) Bretz of New Memphis, IL; three great-grandchildren: Aileigh Wilken, Elizabeth Bretz and Daniel Bretz; one brother, Leo (Edith) Borelli of Merrill, WI; and one sister, Irma (Vernon) Pick of Boulder Junction, Wisconsin. Besides her parents, she was preceded in death by four brothers: Henry, Louie, Joey and Jim Borelli; and three sisters: Lena, Mary and Irene Borelli.
Eleanor loved spending time with her family, which always included feeding everyone. She loved to cook. She would tell her story about how she was born in a log cabin in the woods of northern Wisconsin. Her stories related to the lifestyle and experiences of growing up as a child in a poor Italian family. Her parents immigrated to the United States from northern Italy in 1906.
Amongst other women during WWII, while her husband was at war, she went to work in a factory in Freeport Illinois making aircraft components. After the war, she was at home raising her sons. When her boys started school she then returned to her profession and was involved in making electrical components used in space exploration. She was our loving mother, grandmother, and great grandmother.
According to her wishes, her remains will be cremated and a private burial of her ashes will be at Mt. Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Shiloh, IL. In Lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Fairmont City, IL. Internet visitors may register online at www.KalmerMemorialServices.com. Kalmer Memorial Services in Lebanon is in charge of arrangements.