Marilyn Jewel Polk Craver, 89, died on Tuesday, March. 9, 2021 at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Florida, surrounded by her four children and other loved ones.
Most recently, Marilyn resided in Savoy and often traveled to Longboat Key, Denver and Chicago, where her children and grandchildren reside. She lived her life with a vivacious tenacity, seeking adventure both at home and around the globe, waking up each morning ready to seize the day.
Marilyn was born on March 28, 1931 in Springfield, to Dorothy and Bruce Polk. Her younger brother Charles lovingly referred to her as "Kee." At five years old, her family moved to Harrisburg, where her father opened the Polk Shoe Store and thus began her passion for shoes and other accessories.
She graduated from Harrisburg High School in 1949 and went to the University of Illinois, where she pledged Delta Delta Delta sorority and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics in 1953.
On Aug. 9, 1953, she married Nolan "Bud" Craver Jr. of Homer whom she met while they were both students at the university. After her wedding, the couple were stationed in Montgomery, Alabama, where Bud served in the U.S. Air Force as a judge advocate general. Upon discharge, they moved to Homer and started a family.
Her children have fond childhood memories of her smile every morning and her "get-up-and-go" attitude. Marilyn worked as a substitute teacher at Homer Elementary School and various high schools; she was a leader for Girl Scout and Brownie troops; a board member for the local library; and she helped with fundraising for the Homer Methodist Church and Lions Club.
She was a lifetime member of the Sisterhood of P.E.O. and the University of Illinois Foundation. Marilyn and Bud were lifelong fans and supporters of University of Illinois athletics, and enjoyed attending football and basketball games together with family and friends. Over the years, Marilyn and Bud were avid bridge players, developing lifelong friendships from their bridge clubs. Marilyn cherished quality time with her family and friends, and was an extraordinary hostess making all feel welcome at her many social gatherings.
After the children all graduated, Marilyn and Bud moved to Champaign and enjoyed hosting numerous and ever-expanding gatherings for Thanksgiving and Christmas surrounded by their children and grandchildren. The family enjoyed skiing together -- both on the water at Lake Sara in Effingham and snow skiing in the Rocky Mountains of Breckenridge, Colorado.
Throughout their lives, Marilyn and Bud traveled extensively. They traveled with their children around the United States and then as empty nesters, they explored the world including many of the major capitals of six continents. During semiretirement, they enjoyed frequent trips to Longboat Key and gorgeous sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico.
Her beloved Bud passed away in December 2014.
Marilyn's grandchildren remember their "Mimi" as generous, loving, always up for a laugh and full of holiday spirit when the family spent the most time together in later years. The family would like to thank the Windsor of Savoy community and Marilyn's health care workers for their support over the past eight years.
Marilyn is survived by her four children, John (Trish) Craver, Jill (John) Bonacci, Heidi (Dan) Sledz and Holly (Dave) Diedrich; seven grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.
A celebration of life is planned for noon on Friday, May 28 at Faith United Methodist Church in Champaign. Burial will be private at Mt. Hope mausoleum.
Memorials may be made to the Faith United Methodist Church, 1719 S. Prospect Ave., Champaign, IL 61820, or P.E.O. Chapter AR for educational scholarships, c/o Connie Shaw, 401 E. Scovill, Urbana, IL 61801.