Lois King Gilchrist, 99, formerly of Lake Bluff, IL, passed away on Friday, March 24, 2023, in her residence at Sturgeon Bay Health Services, Sturgeon Bay, WI, with family by her side.
Lois Jean King was born September 23, 1923, to Nettie Hadwiger King and Frank Willard King in Denver, CO. She and her beloved younger brother, Kenneth King, were raised in Pueblo, CO, and remained forever close with their parents. Lois met Leo William Gilchrist while they attended Colorado State University in Greeley, CO. Leo had enlisted in the United States Marine Corps after high school. His service in World War II, the Korean War, and later in the USMC Reserves often left Lois on her own but was an honored part of their lives. The two married on April 1, 1945, Easter Sunday, and moved to Lake Forest, IL, where Leo taught biology at the then 10-year-old Lake Forest High School. The couple had four daughters, Leslie, Lynn, Lori, and Lisbeth "Libby" and raised them in Lake Bluff, IL. Lois loved her adopted village of Lake Bluff. Their children fondly remember their parents' loving nicknames for each other: Mom was “Birdie” and Dad was “Moose."
While the children were small, Lois completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at Lake Forest College. After their youngest started kindergarten, Lois began a long career teaching kindergarten at Lake Bluff Elementary School. Teaching two sessions of thirty or more lively kindergarteners for 23 years, we estimate more than 1,000 students went through her classroom door (and most came to our Scranton Avenue door every Halloween to say, "Hi, Mrs. Gilchrist!"). Life was busy for a young mother, teaching all day and then getting her girls to piano, ballet, and swimming lessons. Summers were packed with trips to the beach and family car trips to visit both sets of grandparents in Colorado. Lois retired when her oldest granddaughter started kindergarten in 1980.
Following their retirement, Leo and Lois enjoyed traveling within the states and internationally. In 1994, they moved from their beloved Lake Bluff home of almost 50 years back to Leo's family home in Montrose, CO. After her husband Leo and daughter Leslie passed away in 2005, Lois remained in Montrose and later moved to Wickenburg, AZ. In 2017, she moved back to Lake Bluff, residing at Sheridan Green Oaks Senior Living, and finally to Sturgeon Bay Health Services in late 2019. Her last years were affected by the visiting limitations of pandemic safety measures and her dementia, but she had family and friend visits by phone, window, or in-person every day.
Lois was a dedicated congregant of Grace United Methodist Church in Lake Bluff, where she was an active member in its women's organization and spent years leading its high school youth group with Leo. She was an active and dedicated member of the P.E.O., a philanthropic educational organization dedicated to the advancement of women through educational opportunities, Chapter FJ, Montrose, Chapter CP, Lake Bluff, and Chapter DR, Wickenburg. She was a member of the League of Women Voters and the DAR, in which she discovered an interest in family genealogy. Lois was active in Lake Bluff civic activities; Leo organized the widely-loved Lake Bluff Fourth of July parade for many years with Lois working hard behind the scenes. Her commitment to philanthropy and furthering educational opportunities for women was evident in her involvement with P.E.O. and her work in a Montrose program that mentored school-age mothers. Lois enjoyed time with friends, playing tennis, restoring antique furniture, and was one of the first players on the Lake Bluff Golf Course when it opened in 1968.
Lois's lifelong dedication to her family was the most important part of her life. She was a quiet person with strong beliefs and a great compassion for others. Her children knew she was always there for them. Lois was also a loving and devoted daughter, talking to her brother and caring for her parents throughout their long lives.
She and Leo raised their daughters in a home where “I love you” was spoken many times a day. Despite the dementia of her final years, if a family member said, “I love you more,” she would shake her head with a mock frown and say, “Oh no, you don't!” Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren brought her great joy, and they all loved their Nana. The grown grandchildren were delighted by Nana's willingness to dress in funny hats for New Year's Eve and wear sparkly gold tennies to her granddaughter's wedding. She was delighted when her youngest granddaughter became a mother herself and chuckled, “How old does that make me?!” Lois was kind, modest, polite, and sentimental; her propensity to cry at anything sad, including tv commercials, was the stuff of family lore. Even though speaking was difficult in her final days, she continued to say "Please" or "Thank you" to family and staff at her care facility as often as she was able.
Lois will be missed by her daughters, Lynn Gilchrist of Sturgeon Bay, WI, Lori (Rich) Jaros of Wickenburg, AZ, and Libby Traer of Lake Bluff, IL. She also leaves behind 8 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren (with another on the way): Sara Jaros (Matt) Otepka and their children, Rudy and Josie Otepka; Courtney Walker; Julia Anderson (Andy) Feltheim and their children, Brooklyn, Dexter, and Hadley Feltheim; Brett Jaros (Phil Schaffart) and their son, Oliver Jaros; Katie Traer (Jon) Wolfe and their daughter, Rylin; Bobby (Diane) Jaros and their children, Jilly, Rhys, Griff, and Jed Jaros; Miles (Lilia) Traer and son, Hobbes; and Cecily Jaros (Nick) Fasulo and their children, Willa and Baby-Boy-to-Be.
Lois was preceded in death by her parents; her husband of 60 years, Leo Gilchrist; eldest daughter, Leslie Ann Gilchrist; brother, Kenneth King; and son-in-law, Hank Anderson.
The family will post announcements of a memorial service at a later time. In lieu of flowers, memorials in the name of Lois K. Gilchrist may be made to P.E.O. International Executive Office (3700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312) or the Dementia Society of America (P.O. Box 600, Doylestown, PA 18901; www.DementiaSociety.org/donate).
"Our family would like to thank Huehns Funeral Home for their supportive guidance and assistance. We would also like to warmly thank Dr. Kelton Reitz and the dedicated staff at Sturgeon Bay Health Services for providing tireless and compassionate care. Many thanks to all the family, friends, and students along her journey who brightened her days."
Huehns Funeral Home, Inc. & Door County Crematory LLC in Sturgeon Bay, WI are assisting the Gilchrist family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Lois may be shared with her family through her tribute page at www.huehnsfuneralhome.com.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Lois King Gilchrist, please visit our floral store.
P.E.O. International Executive Office
3700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines IA 50312
Dementia Society of America
P.O. Box 600, Doylestown PA 18901