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From the Alton Telegraph
By Thomas Wrausmann

JERSEYVILLE – For her tireless efforts over the years on behalf of more than 100 foster children, her community and her own children, Martha Jean “Jill” Wieland has been honored as 1999 Illinois Mother of the Year.

The annual Awards Ceremony of the Illinois Association of American Mothers, Inc. was held Saturday at the First Presbyterian Church in Jerseyville, where Wieland has been an active member. She received a rousing standing ovation from the crowd. “Never before has the American family faced more moral decay”, Ruth Pool, president of the statewide organization designed to strengthen the moral and spiritual foundation of the family and home, said.

However, Pool said many American families are working to strengthen society and meet the challenges ahead. “Mother power is love in action,” said the 1997 Illinois Mother of the Year. “It will take a sacrifice of time and energy”. She said Wieland‘s many accomplishments are a great example of public service – namely spreading goodwill, which more families need.

Since 1962, Wieland has been a foster parent for the Children’s Home and Aid Society of Illinois. Wieland has also been an active member of the Jersey County Historical Society, she organized the local Presbyterian Women’s Association, helped organize the Dr. Silas Hamilton Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution,and is a past president of the Jerseyville Chapter of Church Women United, among many other activities.She was sponsored for the award by the local Church Women United.

“Jill is driven by two things: her love of her children and her faith in God,” Helen Thatcher, President of the organization, said.

The ceremony was presided over by state Rep. Tom Ryder, who presented her with a certificate from the Illinois House and a personal letter from Gov. George Ryan, whose wife Lura Lynn is a former Illinois Mother of the Year. “She’s (Wieland) a wonderful lady,” Ryder said, adding that it was a great day for the community. “She is an individual with an unlimited capacity to love.”

Also among those honoring Wieland were her grown children, Jerseyville Mayor Jerry Wittman with a key to the city and state Sen. Vince Demuzio with a certificate from the Senate. Performing was the Women’s Chorus at the First Presbyterian Church, directed by Chris Rear. Wittman was one of those asked to write on her behalf,”I was simply amazed at the amount this woman has done in a limited time,” the mayor said, adding that April 10, 1999 was named “Martha Jean “Jill” Wieland Day” in Jerseyville.

Wieland thanked the people in the packed sanctuary and those who organized the event. “I have long felt this was an honor that should have gone to someone else, but now that I’ve got it, I’ll just set back and enjoy it. I think everyone in this sanctuary today is here to validate the American family,” Wieland said. She said today’s family is in trouble, “but countless parents are committed to raising their children with love and making them responsible citizens.”

Jill is editor of the Prairie Schooner and is associated with JCHS.

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