Date of Birth
Date of Death
Elaine Needham, was born November 25, 1918, Sycamore, IL, the eldest daughter of the Rev. Carlton and Amelia (Clarke) Williams. As a preacher’s daughter, Elaine’s growing up years were spread across Sycamore, Sandwich, Poplar Grove and Kaneville, to name a few.It was at Kaneville, however, she met the love of her life, Gordon Needham. Following Elaine’s graduation from Kaneville High School in 1937, her family moved on to her father’s next assignment, but Elaine remained in Kaneville with the Phelps family as "Gordon’s courtin’ " was getting serious. Elaine went on to attend business college which, ironically, would prepare her for running the Needham family blacksmith shop for many years to follow. Elaine was a life-long learner who, in her eighties, learned to use "Quick Books" to do the shop accounting on computer. MARRIAGE & FAMILYOn May 21, 1939, Elaine and Gordon were married and began sixty-one years together. Totally devoted to one another, to their family and community, their life and times became a Kaneville legend. It would be Gordon who was best known as fire chief and blacksmith, but Elaine was the backbone of the family and the business in so many silent ways. She served her community as town clerk and as phone and radio dispatcher for the fire department for many years. Elaine’s personal ministry, however, was in food and flowers, hugs and helping hands. Mother of five and manager of a tight budget, she was also the "Queen of Make-Do" but it never kept her from being generous and thoughtful. Flowers from her garden showed up regularly all over town; at the bank, the Purple Store, the grain elevator, her physician, the hospital and at the homes of countless friends and shut-ins. Elaine was a veritable "Meals on Wheels" too! Her freezer was full of garden goods and sweet things stored "on ice" so that she could respond in a moment to the news of anyone in need. Whether gardening, cooking, sewing, crocheting or keeping the books at the shop, her hands were never idle, nor was her mind. Her thoughtfulness made many good friends, but none more dear to her than her "feathered friends" the blue birds, whom she faithfully housed and fed, season after season. At the famed "Needham’s Woods", Elaine and Gordon opened their doors to countless friends and community events; from scout groups and church groups to impromptu pot-luck dinners, to pancake breakfasts and chili suppers that fed over one hundred friends. For the family, the woods was a fun place to be sure, – but also a learning place where Elaine and Gordon drafted the kids into building and fixing whatever needed doing! Through the years, as grandchildren and then great grandchildren arrived, Elaine remained young at heart, right along with them. None will ever forget rides to the Purple Store in grandma’s cart nor the baby blankets and afghans Elaine faithfully crocheted for each and every one. That commitment continued to be a priority with Elaine, even as she battled her way through chemo-therapy, determined to finish the last two – no matter what. Following Gordon’s death in 2000, Elaine bravely began a new chapter in her life. Soon, she herself was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and at 84, endured "whipple surgery", something tantamount to open heart surgery but far more complicated. Her surgeon promised she could return to her roto-tiller in the Spring and indeed she did. But there was no keeping Elaine in the garden then. She was off to Alaska for a second and later, a third time. Invigorated with energy and inspired with spirit, Elaine was unstoppable as she visited friends and loved ones far and wide. She had a true joy for life and shared it with hugs wherever she went.MEMBERSHIPS Whenever she was home, she never missed a Sunday at church. Elaine spent a life-time at the Kaneville Methodist Church but when her daughter and son-in-law helped begin Grace Fellowship, Elaine could be found there as well, sharing her flowers, food and faith. Most Sundays, she would worship at both churches and likely be just a little late, because she was cutting fresh flowers from her garden for the altar at church.When cancer returned in 2005, it was a wicked blow, but no match for this veteran of the cross. Elaine’s deep faith could be traced like a silver lining through all the hills and valleys of her life. Characteristic of her perspective, she battled not against death but for life, that through Love unfailing, she would finish her race with Faith unwavering. As it came to pass, Tuesday afternoon, July 25, 2006, her Savior met her just a few steps from the garden where she spent so many hours with Him. SURVIVORS She now leaves four daughters:Debra (Darrell) Anderson of White Lake, MI,Jeanette (Roger) Wampach of Kaneville, Martha (Ernie) Baldridge of Kaneville andCarmen (John) Knuth of Beecher, IL;One daughter-in-law, Sharon (Kenneth) DeArvil of Oregon, IL;Thirteen grandchildren and twenty great-grandchildren:Denise (Jeff) Harrison of White Lake, MI, and their children:Caleb and Renae,Brett (Jane) Anderson of Whitemore Lake, MI and their children:Mark, Patrick, Emily and Joel,Dale (Barbara) Anderson of Medina, OH and their childrenDevon, Chase and Kylie;Missi (Randy) Emert of Easley, and their childrenTye, Clay, Sarah and Lane;Bart (Becky) Needham of Maple Park, IL and their childrenAbby and Jake, Becky Wampach of Aurora, IL, Laura Wampach of Orlando, FL, Ed (Meredith) Baldridge of Brevard, NC, and their children:Madison and Mackensie; (no capital on K)Eric (Christine) Baldridge of Elburn, and their children:Kyla, Grant and Dean;Jeanne, Jill, Daniel and James Knuth of Beecher, IL, One brother, Wayne (Ora Mae) Williams of Rockton, IL, Two sisters:Irene (Ted) Ulferts of Rockton, ILCarol (Russ) Ellis of Davis, ILNumerous cousins, nieces and nephews and a community of friends. PRECEDED She joins now her beloved husband Gordon; her son George; one brother, James and two sisters, Ella Mae Pankey and Leona Williams, who preceded her in death.MEMORIALIn lieu of sending flowers to the funeral, please share a special gift of flowers, food, hugs and smiles as Elaine did. For those wishing to share a monetary gift, a traditional memorial has been established in her name to benefit the Kaneville Fire Department, the Kaneville United Methodist Church and Grace Fellowship, as well as other community charities. Checks may be made to the Elaine Needham Memorial and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119. Tributes and memories may also be forwarded to the family at the same address or through www.conleycare.com.
Visitation will be held Friday, July 28, at the Kaneville United Methodist Church from 3-8pm.And continue at church on Saturday from noon until 1:30pm. Her funeral service will follow at 2pm . The Rev. Jason Turner, pastor of the Kaneville United Methodist Church will officiate together with the Rev. David Haidle, pastor of Grace Fellowship, Troxel.
Committal services will follow the service at the Kaneville Cemetery