Ceil B. Severns (nee Bjekich), age 96, passed away peacefully on Friday, May 15, 2020.
Born in Joliet, her parents ran a speakeasy that became a local landmark called Stanko’s Tavern on North Chicago St. One of seven children, Ceil (or Ceba to her friends) chose to see the world, and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps during the Second World War as one of the first ever “Women’s Marines”. During her time at Camp Pendleton she met a young Marine named Merle Severns on his way to fight in the Pacific theater, and after just a three-week courtship, they married. Ceba was a dedicated Marine all her days and was generally known as a tough lady. After the war, Ceba and Merle (or “Chub” as his friends knew him) had their first son in December 1946. 1947 saw her take her infant son, David Loren, to meet his father in Guam. In Guam, the new family lived in a quonset hut and drove a military Jeep on the island. When her husband transitioned from the Marine Corps to the U.S. Army at the start of the Korean War, the family grew by one, Bruce Michael, and they lived in Germany and Okinawa as a family and in the States while Chub was deployed elsewhere. After retiring they returned to Joliet where Ceba worked for the city for many years. In 2016, Ceba was presented with an Honor Flight to the Nation’s Capital to thank her and other Joliet-area WWII veterans for their service to our country.
Ceba’s home health aid, Paula Korycki, has been a dear part of Ceba’s life for over a decade, and was with her right to the end.
Ceil is survived by her son, Bruce M. (Elizabeth) Severns of Melbourne, Australia; daughter-in-law, Karen (the late David) Severns of Phoenix, Arizona; grandchildren, Lisa (William) Coutch, Russell and Jody Severns, and Rebecca (Kirby) Campbell and her great-grandchildren.
Mrs. Severns was preceded in death by her husband, Merle L. Severns (1983); son, David L. Severns (1994); parents, Stanko and Catherine (nee Slobodnik) Bjekich, sister, Mildred Bjekich, brother, George Bjekich, sister Mary (the late Frank) Walsh, sister Gen (the late Joseph) Surinak, sister Dorothy (the late Richard) Yasko, brother Phillip (the late Mary) Bjekich and brother Stan (the late Marilyn) Bjekich.
Ceil was a member of the American Legion Post #60 in Maryland and the VFW Cantigny Post #367 Ladies Auxiliary in Joliet. She was a member of St. George Serbian Church and was a resident of The Timbers of Shorewood.
Services for Ceil will be held privately. She will be laid to rest at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Joliet.
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