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Lois Brighton

June 11, 1925 -
August 19, 2020

Lois Brighton, age 95, died peacefully with family at her side on August 19,2020 at Arbor Rose Memory Care in Tolono, IL.

Lois was born June 11, 1925 in Liberty, IL to Helen and Curtis Robbins.  She grew up as a country girl.  She roamed the woods, learning to appreciate nature, with her father who hunted to feed …read more

Lois Brighton, age 95, died peacefully with family at her side on August 19,2020 at Arbor Rose Memory Care in Tolono, IL.

Lois was born June 11, 1925 in Liberty, IL to Helen and Curtis Robbins.  She grew up as a country girl.  She roamed the woods, learning to appreciate nature, with her father who hunted to feed the family.  She liked to tell about riding her pony 3 miles on country roads in all weather to attend a one room school.

Lois graduated as Valedictorian from Augusta High School in 1943.  She received her BA in Music Education from Western Illinois in Macomb in 1947.  She then went on a scholarship for her Masters in Music Education at the U of I in Urbana-Champaign, graduating in 1948.

Lois met Gerald Brighton as a graduate student at the Wesley Foundation on the U of I campus.  Lois and Gerry were married June 7, 1949 in Augusta, IL by Pastor Willard Arthur “Doc” Goodell.  Doc Goodell was spiritual mentor and family friend for many years.  He baptized all 5 of Lois and Gerry’s children.  Lois and Gerry remained members of Wesley Church all their lives.  Their remains are also interred in the Columbarium in the library room at Wesley.  In the post-Covid world, friends may visit there for quiet contemplation.

Lois played French horn in High School and College.  She sang Alto with the Oratorio Society at the U of I, where a high point was a performance of the Monteverdi Vespers under guest conductor Leopold Stokowski in 1952.

Lois put her training as a choral conductor to good use by forming the Friendship Chorus in the 1950’s and 60’s.  The Friendship Chorus was an inter-racial, inter-denominational children’s choir.  The children were African American, White, Protestant and Jewish, from Wesley Church, Bethel AME Church and Sinai Temple.  Lois arranged the songs and taught the melodies, rhythms, and harmonies.  She also drove her station wagon to pick up students who needed a ride to rehearsal or performance. The Friendship Chorus sang spirituals and folk songs in English, Spanish, French and Hebrew at churches, nursing homes and other venues.

Lois was a Girl Scout leader from 1958 into the 1980’s.  She organized the cookie drive and led the Day Camp, where she was known as Granny Greeny.  She introduced hundreds of girls to the joys of hiking, camping and the Great Outdoors.

Lois and Gerry opened their home to many international students, starting in the 1950’s and continuing into the 1990’s, through the U of I International Host Family Program.  Some of these students became lifelong friends.

After getting her youngest child into school, Lois went back to the U of I to earn an Elementary Teachers Certificate.  She taught several years in Urbana public schools.  She also taught Sunday School at Wesley for many years, well after her own children were grown.

Lois continued her volunteer work in the community after retirement.  She delivered Meals on Wheels and library books to shut-ins.  She spent hours on the phone organizing drivers and drove herself to take people without transportation to doctors appointments through the Council of Congregations.  Wherever a need arose, Lois was there to meet it.

Lois loved animals.  She cared for a series of dogs, cats, birds, fish and the occasional rescue squirrel or rabbit baby. She was a great gardener.  She fed her family and many neighbors with fresh tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and herbs.  Her flower garden was a source of joy and inspiration from early Spring until late Fall.  She had an eye for beauty everywhere.  In her last years she loved looking at the beautiful clouds in the sky.

Most of all, Lois loved children and babies.  She said the greatest joy in life was to hold a baby and look into it’s face.

Lois is survived by 5 children: Anne Robin, Bill Brighton (Andrea Wolfman), Joan Brighton, Jack Brighton (Rosanne) and Jeff Brighton (Robin).  6 grandchildren: Miles Robin, Ben, Greg, Tom (Kim), Hailey (Jake), Jessa and Isiah Brighton.  There are 3 great-grandchildren: Leah, Margot and Jeffrey Brighton.   Also surviving is one brother, Nathan Robbins (Diane).

After the death of her beloved Gerry, Lois spent the last 4 and one half years at Arbor Rose Memory Care in Tolono, IL.  The family thanks the staff at Arbor Rose and Harbor Light Hospice for helping Lois live her last days in comfort and surrounded by love.  Even with the restrictions of Covid, they helped her live fully to the end.

Lois taught us many things in her long life.  Her last lesson was to show us that it is possible to live with dementia with dignity, with grace, with good humor and with love.

Private services will be held at Wesley Church Sunday August 30.  A video of the service will be available on You Tube.  Contact Donna@WesleyUI.org for details.

Memorial donations may go to the Gerald and Lois Brighton Scholarship Fund through the University of Illinois Foundation (UIF), the Nature Conservancy of Illinois or Green Meadows Girls Scout Council.

Morgan Memorial Home, Savoy is assisting with arrangements (www.morganmemorialhome.com).

 

 

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