Date of Birth

May 15, 1928

Date of Death

January 17, 2022

Phyllis Ream, age 93, of Elburn, passed away peacefully on Monday, January 17, 2022.

She was born May 15, 1928, on a farm near Burlington, IL, the last of eight children to Percy and Alice Werthwein.

Phyllis discovered her love of learning while attending local schools as a child. At age 15, Phyllis was chosen by the principal to teach the 3rd and 4th graders for two weeks while their teacher was away. Her enjoyment of this experience drew her towards the field of education, and she enrolled at the University of California at Santa Barbara following her high school graduation.

Phyllis chose UCSB so that she could also help her sister, Greta, care for her children while her brother-in-law served as a Marine overseas. Her return to Illinois two years later was filled with joyful anticipation of a teaching position, but her spirits dampened when she learned a teacher’s wages were very poor. Never one to let an obstacle get in her way, Phyllis found an accounting position at a factory in Elgin, IL. The accounting she learned there helped her immensely when she became a bookkeeper in later years.

During this time, she met and fell in love with Robert “Bob” Ream, a local butcher. They exchanged vows in 1950 and welcomed a son, James, in 1953. Their growing family moved to Elburn where they bought the Elburn Market, later named Ream’s Meat Market, where Bob and Phyllis worked hand-in-hand. In 1956, they welcomed a second son, Randall, making their family complete.

In 1960, Phyllis returned to school, this time to Northern Illinois University where she completed her teaching degree. Upon graduation, and while still caring for her school-age boys and doing the books for the Elburn Market, Phyllis was offered a position as a sophomore English teacher at Batavia High School.

During her time at Batavia, she would go on to teach senior English, implement Advanced Placement courses, and serve as the Department Chairman. She also dedicated time as a trustee at the Elburn Public Library for 12 years. In 1979, Phyllis laid down her red pencil for the last time and retired from teaching. However, she held bookkeeping responsibilities at the Market well into her 90s.

Phyllis, regardless of her age, refused to let her hands sit idle. She watched with pride as Ream’s Meat Market grew beyond her wildest expectations. Even dearer to her heart were her beloved grandchildren. She loved to travel and to learn the history of the places she went. The garden never looked more beautiful than when she was home and the kitchen never smelled as good as when she was baking her mouth-watering desserts, most notably her famous angel-food cake, which was requested for many family birthdays.

She is survived by her son, Randall Ream (Janelle); daughter-in-law, Sharon Ream; five grandchildren: Brian Ream (Tracy), Sean Ream, Joel Ream, Jacqueline Desmond (Kevin), and Stewart Ream (Bessie); one sister, Alice Carol Fore; many beloved nieces and nephews; and a community of friends, former students, and Market employees, past and present. She looked forward to the arrival of her first two great-grandchildren in 2022, the first of whom was born two days after Phyllis’s passing.

She is preceded in death by her parents; six siblings; husband Robert Ream; son James Ream; and grandson Eric Ream.

In accordance with Phyllis’s wishes, no public services will be held. Following cremation, a private family burial will be held at Borromeo Catholic Cemetery overlooking her childhood farmland.

In lieu of flowers and in honor of Phyllis’s love of reading and learning, contributions may be made to the Town and Country Public Library. Please make checks out to “Town and Country Public Library” with the name Phyllis Ream in the memo, and mail to Town and Country Public Library, 320 E. North St., Elburn, IL 60119. Forms are available in the library if you would like to make your contribution in person. Memories and tributes may be left on the Conley Funeral Home Facebook Page, or at

In accordance with Phyllis’s wishes, no public services will be held. Following cremation, a private family burial will be held at Borromeo Catholic Cemetery overlooking her childhood farmland.

10 thoughts on “PHYLLIS REAM

  1. Phil and I were so sorry to hear if Aunt Phyllis’s passing. She was one of Phil’s teachers at Batavia High School. She was always fun to talk with at the Olson’s Birthday parties. She will be missed. Our condolences to you and the family

  2. Mrs Ream showed this failing high school student his potential and is truly the reason for my and my family’s success in life. We kept in touch and visited throughout the years. We spoke on the phone most recently and ended with the promise to have dinner again soon. She so loved to tell me the stories of my outlandish behavior in school and the potential she saw in me. And I loved telling you about the adventures of my life.

    I was a long haired junior in high school. The new kid in town with no history of family or social stability. Mrs Ream stopped me in the busy hallway one day and said; “ Tom, you are failing my beginners English class. I will give up my lunch hour if you give up your study hall and come to my office so I can teach you English.” I looked up with bewilderment at this person I really did not know and said the word that would forever shape my life. “yes.” She came to get me out of study hall each day. Light bulb after light bulb kept coming on as I learned how to learn. She helped me realize that I had the ability to apply myself in life.

    I passed English that year and then got an A in her college prep English class the next year. I was the only student in her senior class not going to college. I needed to go in the military so I could grow up, get the old GI bill and afford college. After active duty my GPA at the University of Florida was 3.8 and then 4.0 in graduate school. My children went on to college because Mrs Ream saw my potential and gave me the tools to help my children reach theirs. She was so proud when my son received a full ride stipend academic scholarship to one of our countries most prestigious schools. I often told her; “see what you started.” Her smile was precious.

    Mrs Phillis Ream – you have been and will always be my guiding light. The foundation of my families success and our comfortable status in life is because you took an interest in me one day so long ago. Thank you for making the world a better place.

    I love you.
    God Bless You and your precious family

  3. My sincere sympathy goes out to all of the family. My husband Ron worked with Bob and we did many things together and enjoyed the company of both Bob and Phyllis. Phyllis was one hard worker and always strived to do her best. I never saw her without a smile. She was a great hostess and always enjoyed conversations with her.
    Family meant everything to her and she was so very proud of the meat market and how it had expanded and thrived. She was a great cook too. I know she will be missed by many. I pray that the family would find comfort and strength in the days ahead.

  4. Mrs. Ream was such an inspirational English Teacher. I took every class that she taught because she was such a great teacher. I learned so much from her and will always remember how she inspired me to read and analyze literature. She was the best teacher a student could have.

  5. Phyllis and I met a bit more than two years ago at the engagement party for our daughter, Tracy, and her grandson, Brian. All who met Phyllis that evening were charmed by her wit, her intelligence, and her friendliness. Shortly after that first meeting, Phyllis and I became pen pals, and our friendship bloomed. She shared stories of her youth, students she taught, working on the farm and at the meat market, and of course gardening and cooking. I feel as though I’ve lost a close friend and will miss her greatly. She was very special. We send heartfelt condolences to Brian, Tracy, Sharon, Sean, and the entire family.
    Pat & Boyd McBurnett

  6. Our family sends our Condolences to the Ream Family. Phyllis and Bob welcomed my deceased wife Carole and me into the Elburn Community. At the time, we would put our purchase “on the spindle” and settle up once a month. We have fond memories of a special “gourmet” dinner in the Penthouse during a blizzard in the 70’s.
    Jim Michels

  7. On behalf of the Country Cousin Unit of KCHEC (Kane County Home, Education, Community) we extend our deepest sympathy at the loss of you mom and our dear friend Phyllis. Since she joined our group we have enjoyed her great stories, sense of humor, and wonderful knowledge she shared with us. She will be sorely missed by all of our group.
    Judy-Probst Yagen
    President, Country Cousins

  8. My condolences to the Ream Family.

    It’s impossible to put into words what Mrs. Ream’s influence, guidance, and support meant to me during what was not the easiest senior year in high school.

    It has been over 40 years since then, and every time Mrs. Ream pops into my memory, I think about how lucky I was to have met her.

    She was much more than a devoted teacher. She found a way to let you know there was something important that the world needed, and you were the person who could find it.

    We kept in touch for a few years after graduation, and in one of her first letters, she wrote, “It’s Phyllis, now,” because, of course, I began my letters with: “Dear Mrs. Ream.” She always treated us like adults, but I’ll always remember that particular exchange because it was one of those moments when I actually felt like I was an adult.

    I’m happy for so many memories, but of course tears of joy come with them. Thank you for everything, Mrs. Ream.

  9. Phyllis, as she insisted I call her in recent years, though it seemed jarring for a while, was my English teacher sophomore and senior years at Batavia High School. Not only her teaching skills, but her sparkling personality and unfailing good cheer, made her an unforgettable teacher and the brightest memory of my high school years. I did not keep up with her after graduation, but when a classmate reconnected us a few years ago, after the passage of 40 years, she not only remembered exactly who I was, but that I had successfully completed reading “The Consolation of Philosophy,” by Boethius, in her class and that I apparently had things to say about it (though at this date, I can’t explain what that text was doing in an English class). Her bright and shining personality had not changed, and appeared to survive even the loss of her son, and then grandson, tragedies that no mother or grandmother should have to endure.

    Rest in peace, Phyllis, the sun is suddenly shining a little less brightly this afternoon.

  10. Vicki and I were so sad to hear of Phyllis’s passing. Such a warm and wonderful person. I remember very fond times with us seeing each other at the post office. Then we talked politics. She was very informed. She had very strong opinions. I was always glad that we were on the same page. She had a wonderful sense of humor. We will miss her so very much!

    Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ream Family!


    Jeff and Vicki Metcalf

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