Bertha James, age 85, of Perry, IL passed away on Saturday, May 20, 2023, at Memorial Hospital in Springfield, IL. She was born on August 9, 1937, in Beardstown, IL to William and Lillian Gersmeyer Rethorn. She married Ellsworth James on her birthday in 1961 in Beardstown and throughout their long and successful marriage, his wellbeing and happiness were her reason for being. Ellsworth died in November 2011 after a long decline in health, during which time Bertha faithfully advocated and cared for him. He was well aware of her devotion.
Bertha graduated from Beardstown High School with the class of 1955 and went on to work as a receptionist for the Beardstown Clinic for several years. She also worked as a CNA for years at both the Pittsfield Manor and Eastside Health and Rehab. She earned a reputation at both facilities as a creative and compassionate caregiver. After retiring, she continued to do some private in-home care. Bertha was confirmed in the Christian faith and a member of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Beardstown but transferred her membership in 1968 to Perry United Methodist Church. She was a faithful member and attended meetings, events, and every Sunday worship service. She served as the Administrative Board Secretary since 1999 and was a longtime PreK Sunday School teacher. She was also part of the Monday Dinners crew and served dozens of funeral dinners. Bertha loved to cook and was famous for her dressing and scalloped pineapple. She had many other regular church duties that she fulfilled with diligence which include communion steward, chairman of the Easter Sunrise Breakfast, and worship greeter. Furthermore, she arrived at church by 8 AM each and every Sunday to open the sanctuary and was one of the anchor contacts on the congregational prayer chain. Bertha was a Meals on Wheels delivery volunteer in Perry as well as an election judge, president of the Business and Professional Women, and the Perry Garden Club. She also served as a member of the Pike-Calhoun Retired Teachers, Chambersburg Senior Saints, and received the 2015 Pioneer Day Honored Citizen award.
She is survived by many friends and her church family.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Ellsworth James; and her parents, William and Lillian Rethorn.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, May 26, 2023, at 10:00 AM at Niebur Funeral Home in Pittsfield with interment to follow at Wilson Cemetery in Perry. Visitation will be held prior to the service on Friday from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM at the funeral home. Memorials are suggested to be made to Perry United Methodist Church. Online condolences may be left to the family at www.nieburfh.com. Niebur Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
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