Obituary: Wilma Louise Hensley DeWall

Ms. DeWall, 105, died Nov. 7, 2020.

  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Wilma Louise Hensley DeWall, born March 26, 1915, on a farm in LaSalle County, Ilinois, to Samuel Earl Hensley Sr. and Eva Lee Holliday Hensley. Louise, age 105, died Nov. 7, 2020, Winter Garden, Florida.

Louise was educated in LaSalle County Schools and began in a one-room schoolhouse, Earlville, Illinois. On Aug. 22, 1935, she married Gerald Merritt Christopher Sr. at the First Presbyterian Church in Earlville. Two children were born of this union, Wilma Jean Christopher Aubry and Gerald Merritt Christopher Jr., both of Winter Garden, Florida. The two children were raised in Rockford, Illinois.

Preceded in death by her loving parents, Samuel and Eva Hensley, Rockford; and sisters, Christine Hensley Harris (Delbert), LaQuinta, California, Blanche Hensley Nelson (Charles), Rockford, Illinois; and brother, Samuel Earl Hensley Jr., (Alice), Aurora, Colorado; and her loving husband, Urban F. DeWall, Rockford, Illinois.

She is survived by her two children, seven grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, eight great-great-grandchildren and many dear nieces and nephews.

Louise was a member of the Presbyterian Church in Rockford, Illinois, taught Sunday school and was the assistant to the Sunday school superintendent. When her children were in the scouting programs, she was a leader for Brownies, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.

Louise was also active in the Parent Teacher Association. At age 27, she was asked to serve as Republican Judge at the election polls and served eight years. In following years, she was a member of the National Federation of Republican Women. They worked to get Lynn Martin elected as a Senator to Congress, where she served two terms and worked to get the Hyde Amendment on Abortion passed. She is a Lifetime Member of the National Republican Party, and at 100 years of age, she received the Order of Merit Certificate in 2015.

In the mid-1950s, she was a Buyer and Department Manager for Rockford Standard Furniture, the second largest furniture company in Illinois. Louise had a gift for decorating, and her position eventually led her to go to customers’ homes and offices to select furniture, carpeting and lighting for their needs and personalities. While in this line of work she encountered many people who were confident in their choices until it came to lighting. She became lovingly known as the “Ol Lamplighter.”

In December 1973, she and Urban F. DeWall, owner of DeWall Trucking, Rockford, Illinois, were married at Oakland Presbyterian Church, Oakland, Florida.

In 1974, they toured Northern Germany and Austria with his family members of Forreston, Illinois. They visited with the ancestors and enjoyed seeing the original homes and businesses still in existence. After her husband's death, Louise filled her life with activities at the Oakland church, making friends with many of the longtime members.

She had many talents but favored entertaining, preparing and planning food for family and large groups, and that led to a library of cookbooks, and especially those written by members of churches, and Junior Service League cookbooks from all over the U.S. She loved to read so carefully selected history books, past and present, for her library. Her home reflected her love for having tea with friends with a tea cart and tea set ready to serve.

Louise will be buried in Forreston Grove Presbyterian Cemetery, Forreston, Illinois. Due to the year of the 2020 pandemic, (COVID-19), there will be no celebrations or viewings.

The family requests memorial gifts may be made in Louise's name to the Oakland Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 38, Oakland, FL 34760.


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