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Eileen Fesco, 66, of Ottawa passed away unexpectedly at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria on Saturday, October 28, 2023 following a vehicle accident.
A Celebration of Life will be 4:30 PM Saturday at the Hurst Funeral Home in La Salle with Rev. Gregory Jarzombek OSB officiating. Visitation will be in the funeral home on Saturday from 2:00 PM until time of services. Funeral services will be live streamed via the Hurst Funeral Home Facebook page. Private graveside services will be at a later date at St. Vincent’s Cemetery in La Salle.
Eileen was born in Chicago on March 27, 1957 to parents Dr. Edward J. and Anne (Condron) Fesco. She was the eldest of six children. At a young age, Eileen took on a key role for her younger siblings. This included planning family parties with many games and activities. The most memorable were her Halloween parties complete with lots of decorations, bobbing for apples, and a haunted house. She entertained her siblings (and later her nephews and great nephews) with great story-telling and when she read to them she was a master of all the appropriate voices.
Eileen attended LP High School and was active in their limited women’s sports programs. While at LP, she asked to appear before the School Board to advance equal treatment for women in sports. She appeared armed with her research on the newly passed Title 9 and details on gym time allocated to women verses men at LP. This marked the beginning of her lifelong commitment to advancing equal rights for women. She went on to complete her undergraduate work at Carroll College and received a master’s degree from Utah State University.
Eileen was a lover of politics and dreamed of working in our nation’s capital. She moved to D.C. and lived on Capital Hill within steps of the Senate office buildings. She took a job with the Environmental Protection Agency as a Policy Specialist and was able to work towards her lifetime ambition of saving the world. While in D.C., her love of politics continued and she began a journey as a volunteer for numerous local, state and national democratic political campaigns. She was a strong advocate and champion for women’s rights, the LGTBQA community, environmental issues, civil rights, and the underserved and overlooked.
Eileen continued to follow her dreams and left the EPA for a job that took her all over the country focusing on elevating women’s sports on the national level. She moved to Key West where she taught school, worked in retail, and embraced the Key West life. Her family and friends loved the many vacations they took visiting her and making wonderful memories in her island oasis.
Eileen moved back to the Midwest and eventually settled in Ottawa. She again followed her dreams and became the owner of the Book Mouse. She was an avid reader and loved sharing her favorite books and authors with customers and her family and friends. Eileen was a member of Zonta and the American Association of University Women. She volunteered at Safe Journeys and was a supporter of many local human service agencies and animal shelters.
Eileen followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a lifelong fan of Notre Dame and Chicago Bears football. The things that brought the most joy to Eileen were spending time with her family and friends, traveling, exploring new places, going to musicals, plays, concerts, festivals, and fairs. Her favorite place in the world was at the family cabin in Wisconsin. She spent as much time there as possible and loved exploring supper clubs, taking road trips, searching for the best piece of pie, and rescuing numerous turtles from near death encounters on the rural Wisconsin roads. She spent many hours around the cabin table playing bridge, board games, and sharing stories with our dear Wisconsin family and friends.
Eileen is survived by her father Dr. Edward Fesco; siblings John, Nora, Carol and Beth; nephews Darren Fesco, Michael Williams (Elizabeth), Corey Fesco, and Carlo Ballerine. She also leaves behind great nephews Kayden, Kerry, and Kane Williams; her cats Sonny and Baby Bear; pseudo sister Madeline Mauro; and her many family and friends.
She is proceeded in death by her mother, Anne Fesco, sister Mary Fesco, and cousin Kerry Condron.
Memorials may be directed to the family to be distributed to the many causes and organizations that meant so much to Eileen.