Lola Joy Wilkening March 22, 2021

Lola Joy Wilkening (Pekoc), age 68, passed away in the comfort of her home on Monday, March 22, 2021, following an unexpected diagnosis of High Grade B Cell Lymphoma.

Lola was born to John & Zada (Coffman) Pekoc in Sandwich, Illinois on May 6, 1952. She grew up in Plano, Illinois excelling in school, gymnastics, cheerleading and wearing out the Plano Public Library staircase. She later attended Waubonsee Community College & Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she studied English Education.

She stayed in Southern Illinois after college and raised their daughter, Ellie, with her former husband, Daniel Starck in the Carterville community. Lola was brilliant, kind, generous, loving & so creative. She spent her career focused on graphics in the newspaper advertising, cartography, and book publishing industries. She had an eye for detail and undeniable organization skills.

She was a dedicated, loving, and working mother who still made time to volunteer in as many of her daughter’s numerous activities as possible. She welcomed many of Ellie’s friends into their home treating them as her own. She was a natural nurturer; sharing her time, love, skills, warm smile, heart felt hugs and food.

She married her high school sweetheart, John W. Wilkening, on July 7, 2016 in Carterville, Illinois. They spent the last 10 years together making up for lost time, watching the Bears, enjoying each other’s company on the porch, and traveling together.

There were few days you didn’t find Lola with a cup of coffee in her hand and a good book in the other. She encouraged her love of reading to her grandchildren with frequent visits to the Anne West Public Library. “Nana” shared her creative artistic skills and her love for cooking and baking with her grandkids as well. Her daughter & step-daughter shared many cups of coffee while listening to and watching the grandkids play. She took after her mother and was a fantastic cook & baker. She was a plant whisperer, indoors and outdoors. She loved her family well and she was adored by many. Her genuine ability to love and care for others will never be forgotten.

She is survived by her husband, John Wilkening; daughter, Eleanor “Ellie” Starck – granddaughters, Zeppelynn Joy & Josselynn Love; step-daughter, Lori Wilkening (Eric Johansen) – grandsons, Nick & Evan; step-son, Ricky Wilkening; brother, Brad Pekoc (Lynnelle); sister, Julie Bennett (Bob).

A Celebration of Life Visitation will be held on Saturday, April 10th from 2:00-4:00PM, at Cannon Park Pavilion in Carterville, Illinois.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Anne West Public Library in Carterville, Illinois in honor of Lola Joy Wilkening.


  1. Martin H. Smith says

    I just learned of Lola’s passing earlier today, but still wanted to pass along my condolences. I remember Lola well from high school. Even though she was two classes ahead of me (I was in her sister Julie’s class), she always had a radiant smile and kind words to share. I’m truly sorry for your loss.

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