SAVANNA—Suzanne Atherton, 79, of Savanna, passed away Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, in her home. Family and friends are invited to share in Suzanne's life at

Suzanne worked many different jobs, ranging from waitress to welder, during her lifetime to provide for her girls. After obtaining an associate’s degree later in life, she worked in administrative positions at the Savanna Army Depot and retired from the State of Illinois, Department of Human Services.

Suzanne maintained many lifelong friendships from her Avenue School days to her graduating class of 1959 from Savanna High School. Those lifelong friends gathered annually during the alumni weekend with the largest turnout for the class being their 50th reunion held at her home that she shared with her daughter, Kris. It was a night full of fun and memories with a torrential rain that washed out the lane. This left many guests (and Kris) wondering if it would be a true celebration of their high school days and end with a slumber party.

Family was of the utmost importance to Suzanne. She learned a strong work ethic from her father and a love of reading from her mother. Growing up in Savanna, there have often been stories about Suzy and Buddy told to her children. She was affectionately known as Gert by her brother Bud.

She loved her three girls but becoming a grandmother was icing on the cake. She could often be found at Marquette Park watching the river with her family or taking her grandkids to the Palisades State Park to enjoy nature. Her great-grandchildren could bring a smile to her face even in her last days. One of her greatest joys in the last 12 years was to be a daily part of her great-grandson, Noah's, life.

Suzanne taught Sunday School for many years and always enjoyed planning special outings for her class. Her strong faith was an example for all of us.

In recent years, due to her immobility, she continued to find joy in life. She enjoyed doing puzzles, watching Andy Griffith and the Hallmark channel. Her favorite activities were sitting on the beautiful deck designed and built by her brother, Bud, and going on outings with her beloved caretaker, Chris.

She is survived by her three daughters, Rhonda (Jeff) Law of Savanna, Kelley (Terrell) Johnson of Port Byron, and Kris Yingling of Savanna; brother, Bud (Sharon) Atherton of Savanna; honorary daughter, Jodi (Jon) Reifsteck of Sterling; four grandchildren, Cody Johnson, Courtney (Nate) Johnson, Nick (Kelsey) Law and Nathaniel Law; nine great-grandchildren’ nieces, Lisa (Andrew) Smith, Mary (Steve) Schmidt; nephews, Matt Atherton and Bob Atherton; aunts, Ruth Brown of Savanna, Willie Weber of Shannon, Brenda Stanberry, Claire Biesemeier; and several cousins.