Linda Mae Ufkes, age 71, passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by her family on October 18, 2020, after an incredibly brave and graceful battle with cancer.
Linda's story began on July 3, 1949, in Elgin, Illinois. She was the daughter of Charles and LaVerne Melvin and grew up on a farm in rural Denver, Illinois. She attended Carthage High School and graduated in 1967. She then attended the University of Illinois and graduated in 1971 with a BS degree in communications.
Linda was a small town girl with an incredibly adventurous spirit. After graduating college, she backpacked through Europe and Eastern Asia, visiting over 20 countries. This inspired her love of travel, and shortly after she began working for Gordon Travel in Chicago, Illinois. Travel wasn't the only thing that piqued her interest. On December 22, 1973, Linda married the love of her life, Gene Ufkes. Shortly after they married, Gene's engineering job took them to St. Louis where they lived for 7 years. During this time Linda continued her work as an agent for The Travel Center. It was also in St. Louis where Linda's favorite chapter began- Motherhood! In 1980 the couple moved to the farm in Bowen, Illinois, where they grew their family and raised their three children: Jennifer, Ted and Laura. It was important for Linda to be home with the kids until they all reached elementary age, and when they did, she fulfilled her dream of opening her own travel agency. Carthage Travel Center opened in 1990 and she worked there until 2000, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
There was nothing more important to Linda than her family. She was a loving and devoted wife and mother. She enjoyed watching her family grow and nothing brought her more joy than time spent with her three children and 12 grandchildren. She treasured her time with them and loved humbly serving her family. She will be remembered by all of them for her warmth, smile, selflessness, tremendous amount of strength, and passion for cooking. It was nothing for her to whip up a six course meal, three of which may include dessert. She always had a lunch packed and a home cooked meal waiting for Gene when he returned from work each evening, and it brought her joy when the kids and grandkids would come home and every chair at the table was full. She loved playing games with the grandkids and could often be found with a little one on her lap reading books. She had a magical way of calming the babies and earned the title "The Baby Whisperer". Linda simply loved loving people and even though she was happiest at home with her family, her life certainly wasn't lacking adventure. When the kids were younger the family spent many weekends camping, boating and water skiing on the river. Linda would stack food in laundry baskets and off they would go. As they grew, they traveled all across the United States and she and Gene's adventures took them clear across the globe. In most recent years, she spent a great deal of time planning yearly vacations for the whole family. She loved spending uninterrupted quality time together and making memories she knew would last a lifetime. Being in the travel industry, this was her forte, but the joy she received in planning and executing these trips had very little to do with the places they were visiting and everything to do with whom she shared this special time with. When Linda wasn't helping Gene on the farm or in the kitchen trying out a new recipe, she enjoyed staying active in the community through her involvement in the local card club, as the organist of Bowen Lutheran Church and the pianist at the Denver Christian Church. She was passionate about music and it was especially evident as she played hymns in church. She found music very calming as did all of those lucky enough to hear her play.
Linda is survived by her husband of 47 years, Gene Ufkes. Other survivors include Jennifer (Bill) Bensinger, Ted (Alicia) Ufkes, Laura (Jordan) Tenhouse and her twelve grandchildren: Luke, Lora, Lexi and Logan Bensinger; Carlie Mettler, Beckam, Isla, Elle, and Jimmy Ufkes; Sophie, Mack and Annie Tenhouse. She is surv ived by her siblings Rich Melvin and Anne (Roger) Young.
She is preceded in death by her sister Janis and her parents Charles and LaVerne Melvin.
Linda was a brave warrior who fought a valiant battle with cancer, especially these last 7 years. She fought hard every day because her family meant the world to her. The Ufkes Family would like to send a special thank you to Dr. Raymond Smith and the Quincy Medical Group Cancer Institute for their care, compassion and support of Linda in this battle. They always saw her as a wife and mother and fought hard with her and for her. We would also like to thank the staff and doctors at Barnes Siteman Cancer Center, especially Dr. Bici.
Visitation will take place at Printy Funeral home on October 21 from 4-8pm. Funeral will take place at Bowen Christian Church at 10am on October 22.
Memorial donations in Linda's name may be made out to QMG Foundation’s Moments That Matter wish fund. Linda’s wish of a children’s book collection to read with the grandchildren was granted through the Moments That Matter fund last October. Moving forward, these books will be donated to other patients to share with their loved ones.
Memorial donations may also be made to the Maren Fund, a foundation that provides academic support to families, children, and young adults with Down syndrome in the St. Louis region. Linda always had a special bond with her grandson, Logan, who has Down syndrome.
Memorial donations may be made to the Denver Christian Church. This was the church Linda grew up in and she has served as the long term pianist on Sunday mornings.
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