Laura Jane (Humphrey) Drassler, 67, formerly of Kankakee, passed away at her home in Sun City West, Ariz., on April 9, 2019, after a brave battle against pancreatic cancer. She was surrounded by family at the time of her passing.
She was born in Lawrenceville on July 23, 1951, the daughter of John and Laura Frances (Dinsmore) Humphrey. Her parents preceded her in death.
Surviving are her son, Michael Drassler, of Chicago, and his father, Stephen Drassler; a sister, Harriet Argento, one nephew, John (Cheryl) Argento, and one niece, Laura Argento, all of Chicago, along with several cousins.
Laura graduated from Lawrence Township High School in Lawrenceville in 1969 and continued her education at Illinois State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in education in 1973 and advanced hours at Boston University. She then earned a master’s degree plus many hours toward her doctorate at Bradley University.
She began her career working part-time for her father at the family-owned Humphrey Packing Company (home of “Persimmon Ridge” brand pork sausage), in Lawrenceville. Laura later worked as an assistant for the Bloomington Park District during her summer breaks. Upon graduating from Illinois State University, she began her teaching career at Bradley Central Elementary School, Bradley, where “Miss Humphrey” taught reading.
After moving to Kansas City, Kan., with her husband, Stephen, she taught reading at Smith-Hale Middle School in Kansas City, Mo. Upon returning to Illinois, Laura taught at several schools in the Peoria School District 150 school system, retiring from Woodruff High School, where she taught English for many years. Laura was a dedicated teacher and always “went the extra mile” for her students. For many years, Laura was the sponsor for the Woodruff High School chapter of the Kiwanis affiliated student service organization, Key Club. She received the Kiwanis Teacher of the Year award in 2000. She is remembered for bringing Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” to life for her students, having an annual Toga Day on March 15, the Ides of March. After retiring from the public school system, Laura taught English at Peoria Notre Dame High School, finally retiring from teaching in 2009. After retiring, Laura and her Boston Terrier dogs lived in Sun City West, Ariz. and Peoria.
Laura loved to travel, having journeyed twice to England (visiting the homes and the graves of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway). She also traveled to Yugoslavia, Slovenia, Italy, France, Germany and Austria several times. Laura loved to read and had a large collection of books in her personal library.
In her spare time, Laura also enjoyed solving crossword puzzles, swimming, playing pickleball and participating in team trivia with friends in Arizona. Laura found her special place in Arizona and thoroughly enjoyed life and retirement there.
Cremation rites have been accorded.
A memorial service will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at Woodruff Career and Technical Center, 1800 NE Perry Ave., Peoria, IL 61603.
Memorials may be made to the family (Michael Drassler) or to THEMA, a hospice organization serving the Phoenix, Ariz. area. Mail to THEMA Foundation, THEMA Health Services, 1500 E. Bethany Home Road, Ste. 250, Phoenix, AZ 85014