Carol Sue Schalk, 80, of Troy, IL, born Tuesday, November 3, 1942 in East St. Louis, IL and passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on Friday, February 17, 2023 at her home in Troy, IL.
Sue retired as a conductor-switchperson from Union Pacific Railroad. Hiring out in 1975, she was one of the first women working what was then considered a man’s job. She worked on many rails across the Midwest from Salem, IL, to Little Rock, AR. While told to “go back to the kitchen” by many, she quickly became known and respected as one of the hardest working people on the job.
Perhaps providing a glimpse into Sue’s uniqueness, she was an avid supporter of a range of organizations. These include ChildFund, Jewish Voice, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), and National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
Sue supported her family through the railroad, filling the shoes of both mother and father to her children. As her son lovingly let her know, she was the best mother ever. Later, she would share her strength, wisdom, and humor with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Each one of them formed their own special bond with their grandmother. To the countless other children Sue came across each generation, she’d affectionately become known as: Mom, Grandma Sue, Meemaw, Granner, GG-ma, Nintendo Grandma, Aunt Sue, Suzy Q, Boogie Momma, Bag Lady, Ol’ Pruneface, and most of all – to her daughter – “My HERO.”
Sue would literally give the shirt off her back and open her home to anyone. She single-handedly molded a generation of gamers, teaching all the kids her Nintendo skills and secrets. Besides a game of Zelda or Krazy Kreatures, Sue enjoyed playing Pinochle, Rummy, and Scrabble. She loved to garden. Sunflowers and hummingbirds made her smile. On a sunny day, you could find her outside feeding all “the creatures.” Just as Sue would open her heart and home to any person, her heart and home provided a refuge for rescued cats and dogs. Sue was especially close to the family’s three cats: Izzy, Skittles, and Hyugo.
Sue’s unwavering faith in God served as its own ministry. She embodied grace, though unwittingly. To the very end, she devoted time each day to study the Word of God. Before moving back to Illinois, Sue was a longtime member of New Home General Baptist Church in Poplar Bluff, MO. She enjoyed keeping up with everyone on Facebook. She spoke about her church family as if they were her blood family – because to her, they were.
Sue played such a big role in the lives of so many. Her infectious smile filled our rooms and hearts, even after the dog ate her teeth! Oh, she loved to laugh. While her absence in this world leaves so many wanting more, there is no person who is sure to have a home in Heaven. Sue’s life provides us with a roadmap to get there.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Roy J. Schalk; grandson, Eric W Schnizler; her parents, Fred L. Sr. and Mary Mertie May (nee Wolfe) Olinger; her sisters, Betty J. Dickerman and Billy J. Smith; and her brother Fred L. Olinger Jr.; Her cat, Often, appropriately named by her great-grandson after showing up often for food.
Surviving are her children, Laura (Ron) Niebruegge of St. Jacob, IL and Barry “Randy” Bozarth of Troy, IL; grandchildren, Sara Bozarth and Sam Bozarth of Troy, Il; a great-grandchild, Kolbe Bozarth; and her sister-in-law, Angela Olinger of Campbell Hill, IL; nieces, nephews, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, cousins, and many dear friends, with special mention of her niece, Karen Dickerman, with whom she was very close.
Memorials may be made to NAMI Southwestern Illinois, 2100 Madison Ave, Granite City, IL 62040. Online expressions of sympathy may be made at www.Richesonfh.com
Visitation for Carol Sue will be 11 am to 1 pm on Saturday, February 25, 2023 at Richeson Funeral Home, Troy, IL.
Celebration of life service will be at 1 pm on Saturday at Richeson Funeral Home, Troy, IL. Light refreshments at the VFW after the service.