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METAMORA – Patricia Ann “Pat” Walker (nee Birnn), 85, of Metamora, passed away on Tuesday, September 1, 2020, at UnityPoint Health Methodist in Peoria.
She was born on March 10, 1935, in Montvale, N.J., to Robert and Vera (Ireland) Birnn. She married Harold “Tip” Preston in Park Ridge, N.J. on September 8, 1956. He preceded her in death on August 5, 1973.
Surviving are her son, Robert (Deb Conklin) Preston of Morton; four daughters, Pamela (Les) Nelson of Morton, Kathy Killion of Champaign, Elizabeth (Dave) Kelly of East Peoria, and Karen (Doug) O’Neill of Peoria; 19 grandchildren, Chris (Jackie) Preston, Kelly (Ryan) Denney, Cory (Sarah Fabry) Preston, Steff (Austin) Arnold, Carrie (JR) Kester, Laura (Billy) Sweet, Megan (Derek) Jones, Seth (Chelsea) Connor, Matthew (Krystle Sturm) Nelson, Rachel (Taylor) Huette, Amber Killion, Josh Killion, Lydia Killion, Jennifer Chasteen, Jessica Bellm, Beau Hammer, Brooke Hammer, Katie O’Neill, and Sarah (Caleb) Boyer; 29 great-grandchildren, Christian and Quintyn Preston, Taylor and Mikaela Smith, Kyla and Luca Arnold, Ella Nunan, Josephine and Ryane Kester, Lainey and Everly Sweet, Foster, Lochlan and Rowan Jones, Anistyn Connor, Carter Davis, Annaliese Connor, Jasmine and Jacob Sturm, Lucas and Nicholas Nelson, Beckham and Brooks Huette, Caleb Killion, Colin and Beckham Unes, Marquis and McKenna O’Neill, and Logan Boyer.
Pat graduated from Oak Grove Prep School in 1952 and attended Earlham College, where she met Tip. As a youth, she was a lifeguard and an accomplished pianist and equestrian. After marriage, she established Heather Hills in Groveland, one of the largest horse stables in downstate Illinois. After selling Heather Hills, she worked for Bradley University until her retirement in 2000.
Pat loved horses and the outdoors. Her hobbies included refinishing furniture, rug braiding, attending plays and league bowling. She loved reading, music, travel, visiting with her children and grandchildren, baking bread, and telling stories. She was incredibly proud of her family.
Pat was gregarious and loved socializing with friends. She enjoyed making people smile and was a good friend to many.
Pat passed along her love for Christmas to her children, from decorating to the famous “Grandma Pat Boxes”; she would shop the whole year picking out unique items for each member of the family.
Cremation rites have been accorded. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. Cremated remains will be scattered in Barnegat Bay and Silver Bay in New Jersey.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Snyder Village in Metamora, in honor of Pat.
The family wishes to express their heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all of her friends and the staff at Snyder Village.
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