Contact Us
(309) 346-2176
We are taking COVID-19 precautionary measures. Read More

Obituaries are so much more than a public notice that a friend or loved one has passed away.

Mary Ellen Lamb

3/29/1930 - 10/13/2019

PEORIA ~ Mary Ellen Lamb, 89, of Peoria, passed away at 11:10 p.m. Sunday, October 13, 2019 at her daughter's home.

Born March 29, 1930 in Peoria to Harry H. and Hazel (Williams) Houchens, she married Robert D. Lamb on April 23, 1949 in Peoria. They divorced decades later.

Surviving are one daughter, Christine (Kent) Reynolds of Peoria; two sons, Robert Lamb of Temecula, CA and Daniel Lamb of Peoria; eight grandchildren; five great-grandchildren and one sister, June Zakrzewski of North Little Rock, AR.

She was preceded in death by her parents; one daughter, Catherine Lamb, M.D.; one sister, Wilma Yvonne Osborne; one half-sister, Fern Houchens Hammer; three half-brothers, Wayne Walters, Harry Houchens, Jr. and Art Houchens and two very dear friends – Melvin Noe of Peoria and Claude Rashid of Peoria.

 Mary Ellen was part of the Manual High School Class of 1948.  Her work career started at the candy counter at Kresge’s and at the Avon Theater in downtown Peoria as a popcorn girl.  She later worked as a secretary at Melvin Trucking, Hiram Walker, Oberlander Electric and AOL-SI High School. She finished her career working at Bradley University for 20 years as a secretary, retiring in 2003.

She was a former member of St. Mark Catholic Church where she was involved with school activities, led Girl Scout troops, sang in the church choir, participated in the Eucharistic Ministry, and was a lector, until her vision began to fail.  With her move to B’nai B’rith 15 years ago, she became a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Peoria.  

For many years, she was known as a prayer warrior and advocate to those she met at prayer groups, Cursillo, and ecumenical conferences.  Her journey took her through the doors of many Peoria-area churches.  She especially enjoyed her meetings at St. Thomas and also Grace Lutheran.

A love of music was also something she enjoyed sharing.  While her daughters were young, Mary Ellen performed with the Sweet Adelines.  

Mary Ellen had an open, insightful, spirit-filled heart full of love.  When you became her friend, you became a member of her family. And family was always welcome at her door!  She enjoyed entertaining and held many special gatherings.  She had a one-of-a-kind laugh and a sparkle that will be dearly missed.

Many family and friends have made this year positively memorable.  We cannot thank you all enough.  The family also offers a heartfelt thank you to the OSF Hospice Team for their care and support. B'nai B'rith Apartments and staff were a hidden gem for her last residence.

A funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, October 19, 2019 at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 103 S. Richard Pryor Place in Peoria. Father James Pankiewicz will be the Celebrant. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at Preston-Hanley Funeral Homes & Crematory, 405 Rusche Avenue in Creve Coeur where recitation of the Rosary will be at 7 p.m.  Additional visitation will be from 10 to 10:45 a.m. Saturday at the church.  Burial will be at St. Mary’s Cemetery in West Peoria. 

 Memorial contributions may be given to OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois, 530 NE Glen Oak Avenue, Peoria, IL 61637 or to Sophia’s Kitchen, c/o Sacred Heart Church, 504 Fulton Street, Peoria, IL 61602 or to the family to assist with burial expenses.

To express condolences online, visit