Dean St. Ledger


Born: July 15, 1931 in Monmouth, Illinois
Died: October 9, 2020, in Monmouth, Illinois


Read by Thomas J Sienkewicz following a Funeral Mass at Immaculate Conception Church on Saturday, October 17, 2020


I would like to begin by expressing my sympathy to Dean’s wife Nancy, to their children Aileen, Raymond, and Kevin, to all of Dean’s siblings, Paul, Helen, Anita, Don, and Bernard, their spouses and their children, and to his brothers-in-law Chuck and Keith. Many of them cannot be here in person but I know they are here in spirit.


I suspect that Dean himself would not be very happy to hear people talking about him. He was very unassuming and quiet. Yet behind that modest and shy façade was a very intelligent person with incredible construction skills and practical knowledge. In addition, Dean had a great sense of humor, kindness, human understanding and “people smarts.” Dean liked people and they trusted and loved him.


Even after five children and more than 60 years of marriage Dean was still completely infatuated with his bride. Once, when I visited him in the nursing home in his declining months, he pointed to a picture of Nancy as a young woman and, with a gleam in his eye, asked me proudly if she wasn’t “quite a looker.”


Nancy and Dean always had a welcoming home especially at holidays, when their family and friends often gathered for festive feasts. Dean had a sweet tooth and especially enjoyed the desserts Nancy prepared, including homemade pies and ice cream. My wife Anne and I were privileged to share many dessert fests in their home, especially on the Fourth of July when we all watched the town firework display from their backyard.


Although Dean and I were both employed at Monmouth College, I came to know knew him less through the college and more through Nancy, who taught piano to all three of our children. We also saw each other in church for years. Every Sunday my family would be up in the choir loft so we could sing in the choir. Nancy would play the organ and Dean would sit quietly in the front pew at the east end of the choir loft. He didn’t sing. In fact, one story is that as a schoolboy he was once told by a teacher not to sing because he sounded like a frog, but he was always there in church with Nancy and that was enough for him. Right after Mass, he would leave while Nancy was still playing the organ, only so he could get the car and park it right in front of the church to pick her up.


He once told his son David that his purpose in life was helping people. His daughter Aileen told me about an incident which took place a very long time ago when Dean and Nancy came to visit her in Chicago and they we went to see a show, probably Phantom of the Opera. A young African American woman had gotten a flat in the parking garage and no one would help her.  Dean just jumped out and took over and changed the tire.  The woman and her two friends were absolutely astounded. They kept thanking him over and over.  He said something to the effect that was just what people should do. 


Dean also helped people in other ways. Building projects big and small were his special talent. Over the years Dean completed a lot of home improvement projects for the Sienkewicz family and for many others in and around Monmouth. One of the last projects I think he completed was the My Little Library at our house. So any time someone takes a book from that library, Dean is still helping others.


Dean’s carpentry skills as well as his love for Nancy and his children make me think of St. Joseph the carpenter who, throughout his life, modestly cared for his wife Mary and her son Jesus. St. Joseph didn’t look for praise or attention. He just did what he knew needed to be done. Perhaps St. Joseph served as a model for Dean who spent his life, like Joseph, modestly caring for his family and helping others. I’d like to think that Dean is now up in heaven and comparing notes with St. Joseph.


May he rest in peace.