URBANA — Ruth Roberta “Bobbie” Newlin passed away peacefully with her two daughters at her side on Friday (Nov. 1, 2019) at University Rehab Center, Urbana.
Bobbie was born at home in Westfield to Mack R. and Grace (Barton) Sweeney on Jan. 13, 1930. She grew up on the family farm and met the love of her life, Jack W. Newlin, at the start of her freshman year at Westfield High School. They graduated together in 1948.
After graduation, Jack joined the Army and Bobbie moved to Mattoon and worked at Maidrite and Mid-Continent Map Company. On Dec. 2, 1949, Jack came home on leave and the couple eloped and were married at First Christian Church in Henderson, Ky. Jack left for his overseas assignment in Fontainebleu, France, while Bobbie stayed in Mattoon until she was able to join him there 18 months later. The year they spent in France was a very happy one and was their “honeymoon.”
After Jack’s discharge in 1952, they settled in Centralia. Their first child, Bonnie Michelle, arrived on June 26, 1953. Jack decided to attend trade school to become an engineer, so the little family moved to Cicero and set up housekeeping in a 21-foot camper. Jack worked hard at two or three part-time jobs, but money was tight. Bobbie told stories of washing diapers by hand and not having money for bread, so she would bake biscuits instead. She said she was young and in love so she didn’t mind.
Their son, Raymond Jay, was born on July 24, 1957, and the family upgraded to a 28-foot camper. After Jack graduated, he took a job with Texas Instruments, so the family moved to Irving, Texas, and bought their first house. Here, daughter Lee Ann was born on Dec. 6, 1960.
In 1963, Jack took a job with Magnavox in Urbana, so the family bought a big old house in Homer. When they moved, Jack drove one car with the family dog and Bobbie drove the other with the kids, despite having had her driver’s license for only a couple of months.
Always working side by side, Jack and Bobbie made the house a beautiful home, tearing out walls, refinishing woodwork, painting, hanging wallpaper (even on the ceilings), planting trees and gardens. Bobbie used her incredible skill with a needle to make curtains and clothes for the whole family. She would even make a dress from a photo or combine two or three patterns for one garment.
Bobbie loved to sing and possessed a beautiful voice. She and Jack were avid ballroom dancers and enjoyed travelling, often planning their trips to pursue their passion for genealogy, going as far as England and Ireland.
Bobbie was an excellent cook and always set a beautiful table with a centerpiece and candles. She was a loving mother, grandmother and role model for her family and a faithful and supportive wife to Jack for almost 70 years. She was a longtime member of Homer United Methodist Church and a very active community volunteer. She helped found the Homer library and served on the 1976 Bicentennial Committee.
At age 74, Bobbie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Jack was her faithful caretaker for eight years before she was placed in care at University Rehab. He ultimately joined her there and they spent the last five years together until his passing on Sept. 3, 2019.
Bobbie is survived by her three children, Bonnie (Michael) Specchio of Rantoul, Jay Newlin of Oakwood and Lee Ann (Tom) Johnson of Tolono; three grandchildren, Megan (Ben) Pulling of East Peoria, Nick Hubert of Pensacola, Fla., and Dominic (Jessica) Specchio of Foley, Ala.; and three great-grandchildren, Annabel and Roscoe Pulling of East Peoria and Isaiah Specchio of Foley. Another great-granddaughter is expected in March 2020.
She was preceded in death by her parents and two sisters, Marian Thoele and Marilyn Sweeney.
The family would like to thank the staffs of University Rehab and Carle Hospice for their loving care of Bobbie.
Per Bobbie’s wishes, there will be no services. Baier Family Funeral Services, Paxton, is assisting the family with arrangements.
Memorial donations may be made to Richwoods Cemetery and mailed to Bonnie Specchio, 1489 County Road 2800 North, Rantoul, IL 61866.