Featured Resident – Virginia Eckhart
Virginia was born in Sterling, IL, to Clarence and Viola Wolf. She was the third of four children. She had a sister ten years older than her and a sister two years younger as well as a brother five years older than her. Her dad owned his own house building business. He built the family home in Sterling.
Growing up, Virginia and her younger sister, Lora Lea, loved to play house. They had an uncle who was a dwarf. His name was Uncle Arch. He had a kitchen that was scaled for him and they girls loved playing house in it. They also liked to play jump rope and throwing the ball over the house to see if they could catch it.
Virginia enjoyed school. She really enjoyed home economics and math. She graduated from Sterling High School in 1949.
After high school, Virginia got a good job at ComEd, a utility company. She went to work at ComEd as a clerk and she was also a secretary to Mr. McGuinn, the boss. There were four older ladies already working there but Virginia won them over by being helpful to them as well.
Virginia met John Eckhart at work. He asked her to the formal Christmas Ball. She was worried if she could afford a formal but she did. They married a few short months later on May 24, 1953. Virginia had to quit her job due to a company policy.
The couple rented an apartment in Sterling. John continued to work at ComEd and Virginia stayed home. They welcomed their first daughter, Deb, in 1954. The family relocated to Dixon, IL, and welcomed their second daughter, Janet, in 1957.
Virginia remained home with the girls until they were both in school. She then got a job as a bookkeeper for First Federal Savings and Loan. They had uniforms to wear at that time and Virginia got to ride on a Fourth of July parade float one year.
While the girls were young, John and Virginia played cards most Friday nights. They went on picnics and Virginia was in a quilting club. Every Sunday they went to Grandma Wolf’s house for a big family dinner. The adults played cards and the cousins ran wild. Then they had a big dinner complete with homemade bread.
As the girls reached high school, John and Virginia started doing some bus tours. They continued taking these trips after the girls were grown. Over the years, they went to Nashville several times and to the Ozarks. They rented a cabin in Wisconsin for two weeks every year for a decade. They met up with the same people even. They went on a Caribbean cruise and Virginia spent the entire first day sick. But was able to enjoy the excursions.
Virginia changed jobs in 1972. She went to work as a bookkeeper for Kline’s Department Store. She retired from there in 1985. John retired later the same year.
John and Virginia helped Deb and Janet, both single parents, with their daughters, Melissa and Kate respectively. They still played cards and did bus tours.
In 2013, Deb passed away from cancer. In 2014, Virginia’s great grandson, Carter, was diagnosed with leukemia. He was seven years old. He is now sixteen and in full remission.
John passed away from complications from a stroke. They had been married for sixty-seven years. Janet moved in with Virginia and they remained in Dixon, IL, until November of 2022.
With her daughter, Kate and family, living in Liberty, Janet decided she would like to live closer to them. Kate started asking around about senior living options for Virginia. She heard of Westbrook from several clients.
Virginia moved into Westbrook in November of 2022. She loves the food and the fact that she doesn’t have to fix it. She enjoys all the people and has made a lot of new friends. She loves all the activities especially Bingo and the music programs. Virginia enjoys embroidery, word searches and playing solitaire as well as double solitaire.
Besides Janet, Virginia has two granddaughters, Melissa (Matt Mitchell) and Kate (Joel Falcone). She also has five great grandchildren; Carter, Claire, Lucy, Hank and Gus.
When asked about a life lesson she has learned, she stated, “You have to be a nice person and treat everyone with kindness. It will get you a long ways and make you a lot of friends.”