Date of Birth
Date of Death
Annetta (nee Bicknese) Grever, was born April 18, 1917 in Wood Dale, Illinois to Fred and Lydia Bicknese and was baptized into Christ at Zion Lutheran Church, Bensonville. After her mother and grandmother died in the influenza epidemic the following year, Annetta and her father lived with William and Bertha Bunge above their hardware store in Itasca, Illinois. She continued to live with the Bunges after her father went to work on his brotherâ€™s farm. When he married again in 1923, her father and step-mother allowed Annetta to remain with “Ma Bunge,” who, Annetta wrote in her memoir, “was the only mother I had ever known.” She attended St. Lukeâ€™s Lutheran School, sharing a desk with Gertie Fiene; they became lifelong friends. She loved learning, did well, and often told the story of competing with an 8th grader on a multiplication problem when she was in 4th grade. He finished the problem first, but she got the answer correct and thus won the competition. In her memoir she gives a detailed account of her confirmation day on Palm Sunday 1931 at St. Lukeâ€™s, noting that the Bunges installed a bathroom in their apartment above the hardware store because Annettaâ€™s great grandmother would be attending the confirmation dinner in their home. This was also the year the Bunge family got a radio and Annetta discovered the Chicago Cubs, becoming a diehard fan for the rest of her long life.
She commuted by train into Chicago to attend Luther Institute, the Lutheran high school in Chicago, describing this time in the Great Depression as “four wonderful years.” After additional secretarial training, she was hired at Lumbermenâ€™s Credit Association, earning $40.00 a month and later worked for Procter & Gamble (P & G). In her memoir she tells about her daily routine with a co-worker: they would have coffee and cinnamon toast for lunch at the Sears store on State Street, paying 15 cents for this popular meal. On Fridays they would splurge and also have a piece of pie, bringing the total cost to 30 cents.
When Pa Bunge died of a heart attack in 1940, Annetta left P & G to become the bookkeeper at Bunge Hardware. One of her tasks was purchasing tickets to a Cubs game for the annual outing of Bunge Hardware employees; as a diehard fan, she always chose a double header. She seemed destined to be a spinster living with her widowed motherâ€”that is until she met George Grever at her cousinâ€™s wedding to his cousin in 1948, where both were in the bridal party. After a whirlwind courtship, they married in May 1949, with George joining the family hardware business doing plumbing installation. They built a house in Itasca, and three children, Marcia, Warren, and Rhoda, were born during the baby boom decade of the 1950s.
In 1958 George and his brother Harry, who had grown up on a dairy farm, decided to farm together. The families moved to a farm in Big Rock, IL, and Annetta and her sister-in-law Pearl spend many hours carpooling their children to Immanuel Lutheran School in rural Hinckley, gardening and freezing vegetables, butchering and cleaning chickens, and teaching Sunday school at church. When the brothers ended their partnership in 1967 (and Annetta turned 50), George and Annetta bought a farm in rural Maple Park, where they lived until Georgeâ€™s death in 2013. Annetta once commented that the move was a big adventure in their lives and was the first time they had really been “on their own.” Annetta continued to tend her large vegetable garden and strawberry patch and to run her farm-fresh egg business, which was the source of her “pin money.” She would pick up the day-old chicks at the hatchery in spring, and the roosters ended up in the freezer while the laying hens provided eggs not only for the breakfast table but also for sale to neighbors and a network of households in Hinckley, where for decades Annetta delivered a dozen or two per household every week around town, charging fifty cents a dozenâ€”a bargain even in the 70s and 80s. Her children remember the year she had saved enough from her egg sales to buy a recliner for George at Christmas. Her granddaughters recall often working in her “sweat shop,” cleaning and packing the eggs, and labeling them with the slogan they coined, “Grandmaâ€™s perfecto eggs; you can taste the quality in the name.”
George and Annetta joined St. Lukeâ€™s Lutheran Church in Boulder Hill in 1968, where Annetta continued to teach Sunday school and was active in Lutheran Womenâ€™s Missionary League. After retiring from teaching Sunday school, she served for 20 years as co-chair of the team that organized funeral lunches (aka, dead spreads) at the church.
They made dear friends at St. Lukeâ€™s through a Friday night Bible study hosted by Paul and Carol Steinwart; they continued friendships with families from Immanuel, Hinckley, forming a card club that met monthly. Both had grown up in households where the games of 500 and pinochle were a staple of entertainment, and they taught the games to their children as well. Annetta, with her premier math skills, was always the scorekeeper. Following the Cubs was also a major part of their lives. Before the days of enclosed cabs, radios in tractors, and lights in Wrigley Field, George would come in the back door and first ask what the Cubs had done that day; Annetta always knew the outcome of the game.
George and Annetta valued education and made sure their three children had the opportunities neither of them hadâ€”to pursue degrees in higher education. They lived long enough to see them all graduate university, marry, and see their girls earn advanced degrees. In the 1970s their lives were deeply enriched by the birth of their two granddaughters, Rachael and Bethany, daughters of Marcia.
Once their children were all educated and married and Warren was a partner on the family farm, George and Annetta started traveling, often on farm tours. Their first major trip outside the U.S. was to China in 1978. They saw the Great Wall of China and other major historical sites but also toured farm cooperatives and a tractor factory. They came home with slides to show, stories to tell, and new friends from among their traveling companions. They always traveled with a deck of cards and often found another couple who shared their passion for 500. On their trip to Australia and New Zealand they met Marv and June Janssen from southern Minnesota. George convinced them that the four of them should drive to Alaska and back, which they did in 1998, playing 500 every evening in their hotel room. Daughter Rhoda and her husband Mark took them on a tour of biblical sites in Israel in 1999; Daughter Marcia and her husband Wayne took them on a trip to Paris and Prague as well as to Hawaii.
They were blessed to witness the marriages of both granddaughters to wonderful men and were overjoyed with the arrival of four beautiful and delightful great grandchildren in the twenty-first century. Everyone enjoyed family gatherings of the four generations for holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries, and occasional outings to see Annettaâ€™s beloved but hapless Cubs play in Wrigley Field. Card playing had been passed down to the granddaughter and great grandchildren. Eventually Annettaâ€™s sharp mind began to lose its edge, and she ceded her role as scorekeeper to her great grandson Gavin.
George and Annetta continued to live independently on the farm although Annetta gave up driving in her early 90s. Warren and Susan lived across the road and were a phone call away whenever there were household or medical emergencies, and granddaughter Rachael stopped by often on her way home from work, as did daughter Marcia after she and her husband moved back to the area in 2008. Life changed irrevocably for Annetta in August 2013 when George suffered a major stroke and died in November. Daughter Marcia and her husband Wayne welcomed Annetta into their home, and she continued to attend church, family gatherings, and still visited her daughter Rhoda and husband Mark in Minnesota. After 85 years as a Cubs fan and at age 99, Annetta witnessed the Cubs winning the World Series! To celebrate her 100th the next spring her family rented a suite at “Wrigley North” (Miller Park in Milwaukee) and she had an amazing day as the Cubs beat the Brewers. In fall 2017 after a hip fracture from which she fully recovered, she moved into assisted living at Bickford of Aurora and still enjoyed a rich life of activities there, visits from old friends, and family outings. A few months before her death, she had a dream in which she had died and saw her mother in heaven, who said, “Iâ€™ve been waiting so long for you!” On January 14, 2020 she completed her baptism and joined the heavenly hostâ€”including her mother and her beloved Georgeâ€”singing praises to her Lord and Savior Jesus.
She is survived by three children: Marcia (Wayne Mory) Snyder, Warren (Susan) Grever, Rhoda (Mark) Schuler; her two grandchildren, Rachael (Matthew) Williams and Bethany (Nicholas) Gryfakis; four great-grandchildren: Gavin Williams, Tessa Williams, Ellia Gryfakis, and Vivian Gryfakis.
Annetta is preceded in death by her husband of 64 years, George Grever.
Visitation will be held Friday, January 17, 2020, from 3-7 p.m. at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn, IL 60119. An additional visitation will be held on Saturday, January 18, 2020, from 10-11 p.m., with a service to follow at 11 a.m., at the St. Lukeâ€™s Lutheran Church, 63 Fernwood Rd., Montgomery, IL 60538. Private family interment.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Lukeâ€™s Lutheran School, 63 Fernwood Rd., Montgomery, IL 60538. Tributes may also be forwarded to Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn, IL 60119, the Conley Funeral Home Facebook Page, or at www.conleycare.com.
An additional visitation will be held on Saturday, January 18, 2020, from 10-11 p.m., with a service to follow at 11 a.m., at the St. Lukeâ€™s Lutheran Church, 63 Fernwood Rd., Montgomery, IL 60538.
Visitation will be held Friday, January 17, 2020, from 3-7 p.m. at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn, IL 60119.
Private family interment.