MARION -- Diane E. Wilkins, 66, passed away peacefully at 8:40 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, in Community Living Center, a part of VA Medical Center in Marion. She was born Dec. 22, 1946, in Aurora, the daughter of Alvin Ray and Dorothy Evelyn (Hill) Niswander. She attended school in Aurora and was a graduate of Aurora High School. Diane answered the call of this nation by enlisting into the U.S. Army during the time of the Vietnam War as a surgical assistant in plastic surgery. And, after her period of faithful service, she was honorably discharged. She was first united in marriage to Darryl Van Rendleman. She later was united in marriage to Ted Wilkins on April 14, 1984, in Paulton Church of God, and together they shared 15 years of marriage until his death in June 1999. Diane was a member of Marion Elks Club BPOE No. 800 and was made an honorary member of Marion VFW Heyde-Pillow Post 1301. She also was considered an honorary member of many other civic organizations. Her working career was with the Postal Service as a rural mail carrier for many years, until her health prohibited her from working. In the early 1990s, she began working for The Daily Republican newspaper in Marion as an inserter and later became one of its news reporters, a position she thoroughly enjoyed. News soon became her passion. She met and spoke with many famous people during her career. A few to mention are George Bush, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, President Barack Obama, whom she had lunch with, and Lady Antebellum. She remained with The Daily Republican until her health eventually forced her to retire permanently in 2009. When not covering the news for The Daily Republican, she spent much of her free time following all of the other news stations of the country reporting their stories of the world and nation. She also had a special place in her heart for cats, especially her Russian Blue cat, Smokey. During her stay at the veterans' Community Living Center, she especially enjoyed the times they all would play bingo and was always saying she was going to "throw a ketchup bottle" at the bingo caller if he did not call her numbers. Family members would especially like to thank VA Medical Center's Community Living Center and staff for the compassionate and lov-ing care shown to their mother during her stay there. Survivors include her daughter and son-in-law, Jennifer L. and Darrell Calhoun of Makanda; son, Brian Rendleman of Marion; six grand-children; her Russian Blue cat, Smokey; other extended family; and many friends. She was preceded in death by her parents; and husband, Ted Wilkins. Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, in Wilson-McReynolds Funeral Home, 900 N. Court St., in Marion with Chaplain Lisa Scott presiding. Interment will be at 12:30 p.m. in Mound City National Cemetery. Military honors will be accorded by members of the area's ritual team and Marion National Guard Flag Detail. Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15, at the funeral home. For those who prefer, memorial contributions may be made to This Able Veteran, a Southern Illinois organization that provides the highest quality service dogs to injured veterans and their families. Memorial contribution envelopes will be available at the funeral home or may be mailed in care of Wilson-McReynolds Funeral Home, P.O. Box 370, Marion, IL 62959. For additional information or to leave an online condolence of memory or light a candle in memory, visit www.wilsonmcreynolds.com .
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