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Obituary for Irma Delong Blair
Irma Annette Lehman DeLong Blair, 98, of Pekin, IL., passed away at 10:00 P.M. on Friday, December 28, 2012, at Pekin Manor in Pekin. She was born on February 20, 1914 in Cullom, IL., the daughter of Barbara Voss Lehman and Samuel L. Lehman. Irma is preceded in death in 1946 by her first husband, William Wayne DeLong, leaving her a young widow with two children. Irma married Kemper “Q” Blair in 1963, and they were married until his death in 1985. Surviving members of Irma’s family include her two daughters, Julie DeLong Keeton Arnold (Chuck) of Atlanta, Ga., and Ellen DeLong Johnston (Jim) of Pekin, IL.; five grandchildren, Gregory Johnston (Barb) of Peoria, IL., Julie Johnston Bell (Doug) of Eureka, IL., Anne Lehman Keeton of Atlanta, Ga., Elizabeth Keeton of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Molly Keeton Parnell (Brendan) of Atlanta, Ga.; and eight great-grandchildren, Tyler and Nikolas Bell, Alan and Nathan Johnston, William and Catherine Espinoza, and Audrey and Emily Parnell. She graduated as Valedictorian from Cullom High School in 1931. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Bradley University, completing her education in 1956. Education was Irma’s life’s work, and she taught hundreds of students during her career. She returned to Cullom after two years of college, teaching in a one-room schoolhouse from 1933-1937, often teaching students nearly her own age. Irma continued her career in Peoria, teaching second and fourth grades at Calvin Coolidge School from 1947 until her retirement in 1973. Throughout her life, Irma was an active member of the community. She was a faithful member of the First United Methodist Church in Peoria, attending there since the 1940s. Irma was a loyal member of the Kappa Delta sorority for over 50 years, a member of Alpha Delta Kappa honorary teaching sorority, and PEO Sisterhood Chapter CZ. Irma’s extensive service to her community included volunteering with the Proctor Hospital League and routinely donating blood. On her 80th birthday, Irma was honored by the Mayor of Peoria with a proclamation that recognized and commended her contributions to the city. Music was an important part of Irma’s life, and she discovered her passion while playing trombone in high school. Irma was a pianist with the Peoria Pops through her eighties and a longtime patron of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. When not serving her community or teaching, Irma was traveling the world, visiting places such as Western Europe, China, Russia, Canada and Mexico. Irma resided at Pekin Manor in Pekin, IL., since 2004. Services will be held on January 19, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at her church, First United Methodist Church in Peoria. Visitation will be at 10:00 a.m. in the Chapel. Private graveside services will be accorded. Memorial donations may be made to the First United Methodist Church at 116 NE Perry Ave. in Peoria, I, 61603.