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1944 Martha 2023

Martha Fuller

February 24, 1944 — September 1, 2023

Aledo, Illinois

 

Martha Fuller, age 79, passed away at her home in Aledo on Friday, September 1, 2023.  Per her wishes, a celebration of life event will be held on Saturday, September 23, 2023, from 3 to 6 PM at Speer Funeral Home, Aledo.  Memorials may be made to Mercer County Animal Shelter.

Martha was born Feb 24, 1944 in a refugee camp west of Warsaw, Poland during World War II.  Her parents, Albert and Olga (Kaiser) Pahl (with her 12-year-old brother and 2-yr-old sister) were fleeing for their lives out of eastern Ukraine via horses and 2 wagons starting in 1943.  Their German ancestors had emigrated to Ukraine in the early 1800's to settle in villages and farm the land north of Mariupol (a city unknown to most Americans until Putin's invasion of Ukraine in 2022).  In these German villages, the inhabitants grew up speaking both German and Russian.

Martha's family's escape to Poland was not the first time her parents had fled for their lives; around 1930 the turmoil and brutality of the 1917 Communist Revolution that started in Moscow reached the small villages near Mariupol.  With great cruelty and loss of life, the village homes were destroyed, and all land was confiscated by the new Communist government under Stalin's rule.  In the following 12-13 years, Martha's parents and relatives lived in extremely poor conditions, barely subsisting in earthen shacks, while her father worked in coal mines.

After Martha's birth in Poland in 1944, the family was desperate to reach German territory likely to be controlled by the Allied Forces; they succeeded in settling in the new "British Zone” and lived there for 7 years.  Martha spent time playing in the deep bomb holes near her home.

Olga and Albert eventually learned that under the US Truman administration they qualified as "displaced persons" of World War II and were eligible for US immigration.  They applied and were accepted into the US to begin a new life in Bushnell, IL under a 5-year sponsorship contract (1952-1957) with a farmer who needed Albert as a hired hand.  Martha entered 2nd grade without knowing a word of English.  In 1962 she graduated from Knoxville High School and also earned her US citizenship (documented by her very important "Certificate of Naturalization") from the US Peoria District Court.  Four years later she graduated from Knox College in Galesburg.

In 1968, Martha and Kenneth L. Fuller were married in Knoxville, IL and later moved to Ken's home area of Aledo, where they farmed SE of Aledo for 35 years, before moving into town.  Kenneth passed away in 2011.

Martha was employed by the State of Illinois Dept. of Human Services for 28 years in the Galesburg and Aledo offices.  She also taught German at East Peoria HS and Title I Reading at Northside Jr High in Aledo for a total of 7 years teaching.  She loved the natural world and all outdoor activities including horseback riding, kayaking, biking, trail hiking, campfires, and numerous adventures under the sun with beloved family members and friends (including 4-legged friends).  She loved reading, especially non-fiction historical, cultural, and earth science topics, and biographies of notable people.  She was raised in the Lutheran faith, but later in life embraced the philosophy of "Humanism", which does not involve theism or organized religion.

Survivors include: her son, Kevin and wife Katie Fuller and twin grandchildren, Sam and Knox, of Mapleton, IL; a sister, Ludmila Ballabina of McKinney, Texas; brothers-in-law, Vern Fuller of Aledo and Bruce Reynolds of Bloomington; many beloved nieces and nephews; a first cousin, Monika Ruppel of Germany and many dear relatives and friends in Germany, including her special "adopted granddaughter", Jil Spier.  Martha was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Ken, her brother, Edwin Pahl, of Canada, nephew Jim Fuller, niece Trish Roseboom, and sisters-in-law Patty Fuller and Linda Reynolds.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Martha Fuller, please visit our flower store.

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