Retha Ellen McAley, 83, of Taylorville, Illinois, passed away May 19, 2021, at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois. She was born June 14, 1937, in Pana, Illinois, to Frank N. and H. Irene (Tull) Presnell. She grew up in Pana and Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, graduating from Champaign High School in 1955.


Her work life over many years included various administrative and social service occupations. Her last position was one of her favorites: preschool classroom foster grandparent in Taylorville. In the 1980s she owned and operated the Cork & Keg Bar in Taylorville.


Retha was a constant reader and a crossword puzzle devotee. She was a member of the Taylorville Library Book Club and the Taylorville Senior Police Academy (TRIAD). She was a good storyteller, and she had an uncanny ability to find greeting cards with just the right meaning or message. Much beloved by family and friends, she will be remembered for her caring nature, her joy of life, her sense of humor, and her honesty—she hated hypocrisy with a passion. Those who knew her admired her for her determination never to be disrespected or dependent, and she faced the end of her life with courage, dignity, and grace.


She is survived by her sister, Caroline R. Presnell of Skokie, Illinois; two brothers: Frank "Jerry" L. Presnell of Chico, California; Rev. William B. (Nancy) Presnell of Florham Park, New Jersey; three daughters: Jan M. Alexander, Savoy, Illinois; JoEllyn McAley, Lombard, Illinois; and Susan McAley, Parowan, Utah; three grandchildren: Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph D. Moritz, Panama Beach, Florida; Dr. Bridgette (Nate) Peal and Emily (Luke) Kennedy, both of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin; several nieces and nephews; and her nearly lifelong friends Cathy Hunter of Taylorville, Illinois, and Mary Kay Phillips of Champaign, Illinois.


She was preceded in death by her parents and her son, Kevin McAley-McCann.


There will be no formal memorial gathering. McClure Funeral Home and Cremation Services has performed cremation, and the ashes will be scattered sometime in the future in a location yet to be chosen.

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