Catherine French Stookey, formerly of Wood River, died on March 6, 2019 at Meadowbrook Health Center in Urbana. She was 91 years of age.
Born in Clintwood, VA on December 1, 1927, she was the daughter of G. Mark and Bessie (Rush) French.
Catherine graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from Berea College in Berea, KY in 1949. Berea provides full-tuition scholarships to all of its students, most who come from needy backgrounds in Appalachia. Catherine was always grateful for the opportunity Berea provided her.
After she graduated from Berea, Catherine was employed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, where she remained until her retirement in 1990. She had roles in all aspects of child welfare and served as head of the Edwardsville District Office of DCFS in the early 1970's. Most of her jobs were in East St. Louis, and a colleague remembers that she was "always very focused on the people we served and seemed to work at 100 miles an hour."
In the early 1950's, Catherine took a leave of absence to further her education, and in 1953, she earned the Master of Social Work degree from Washington University in St. Louis, Brown School of Social Work.
Also in 1953, she married Warren M. Stookey, who died in 1990.
Catherine was generous to her family and the community, both financially and with her time. A life-long Methodist, Catherine was a member of the East Alton First United Methodist Church for the past 60 years, where she was recently a member of the CARE Team and the DUO class. She also served as a volunteer at the Caravan resale shop for Oasis Women's Center in Alton for more than 20 years and was a faithful participant in exercise classes conducted by Senior Citizens Plus. In the 1970's, Catherine served on the Board of the Madison County Economic Opportunity Commission.
Catherine loved to travel during her retirement. She was an adventurous and independent traveler and visited many foreign lands, including Russia, India, China, and Egypt.
Catherine is survived by her sons, Mark (Lisa) Stookey of Chadds Ford, PA, Matthew (Karl) Stookey of Campaign; by five grandchildren, Andrew Stookey of Chadds Ford, Catherine Stookey of Pittsburgh, PA, John Stookey of Chadds Ford, Jennifer Stookey of Nashville, TN, and David (Jessica) Stookey of Overland Park, KS; and a brother, David French of Harvest, AL.
In addition to her parents and husband, Catherine was preceded in death by four brothers, Mark, Jr., Charles, Francis and Calvin; and a sister, Florence.
A funeral service will be held at 10:30 am on Saturday, March 23 at the East Alton First United Methodist Church, 1001 Third St. Friends are invited to visit with the family beginning at 9:30 am.
Burial will be at Rose Lawn Memory Gardens in Bethalto.
The East Alton First United Methodist Church and the Catherine Stookey Scholarship Fund at Berea College, CPO 2216, Berea, KY 40404 are named as memorials.
Marks Mortuary in Wood River is in charge of the arrangements.