Betty Lee Cerny

Betty Lee Cerny, 89, of Cobden, died on Aug. 18, 2019.  

She was born on Nov. 25, 1929, in Mt. Vernon, the daughter of Halley and Wilma Borden Nebughr.  

She married Norbert Cerny on April 18, 1955, at St. Joseph Church in Cobden.

She is survived by Dr. Mike and Jaylene Cerny and Dr. Steve and Beth Cerny of Anna; Martha and Paul Wackenhut of Idaho; Tony Cerny of Cobden; Tom and Jeannine Cerny of Cobden; and Crystal Cerny of Cape Girardeau; grandchildren Jared Cerny, Rachel Cerny, Brooke Cerny (fiance Cody Hubble), Lizzie Parkinson (husband Clayton), Jacob Wackenhut (fiancee Michele Roseburg), Mark Cerny, Adam Cerny, Aaron Cerny, Liv Cerny and Morgan Cerny; great-grandchildren Lawrence and Simon Parkinson.  

She is also survived by her brother Bob Nebughr and his wife Carol of Cobden, and many other relatives and friends.  

She was preceded in death by her husband and her sister, Shirley Lipe.

Betty was a graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale as a dietitian.  She had internships in St. Louis and Chicago.  

She began her journey into the Catholic faith while in Chicago. While she was there, her family moved from Carbondale to Cobden, her father having bought the local drugstore.  Betty quickly made Cobden her home, entering into Church and community life, and later at the Cobden school.

She worked at the State Hospital in Anna as a dietitian overseeing meal preparations and the canning of produce grown there.  

As her family grew, Betty became a full-time homemaker and farm wife.  When her children were grown, she began to work with her dad and sister at Nebughr’s Drugstore.

Anyone who knew Betty knows it was her vocation to feed people: family, friends and community.  When the school band was invited to march in the Sun Bowl Parade in El Paso, she started organizing chili suppers in the school cafeteria to raise money. Her kitchen was often filled with the wonderful aromas of another bake sale.

When St. Joseph Church built its hall in the early 1970s, it quickly became a hub of the community and Betty fed innumerable people from its small kitchen. Whether wedding guests or local farmers at Extension Ag School meetings, Betty fed them all.  

When a family suffered a loss, Betty got on the phone to organize a funeral meal to ease a small part of the burden and provide an opportunity for family and friends to gather and heal.  The torch has been passed and the next generations will provide for her family and friends at their time of bereavement.

When the Hall at St. Joseph was remodeled about 15 years ago, Betty helped design a much larger, more modern kitchen. She was honored with a plaque there reading “Betty’s Kitchen.”  

Hospitality was a form of ministry to Betty and was a most visible manifestation of her Faith. Just days before she died, she told one of her children how she had loved preparing those meals.

One of Betty’s favorite hobbies was quilting. She embroidered hundreds of blocks and pieced dozens and dozens of beautiful quilts. Most have been given away to family and friends. Many were donated for raffle or auction to benefit some part of Betty’s community.

Betty was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother (oh yes, great-grandmother, too). She was married to Norbert for 54 years. Every summer found her working side-by-side with him and her children on the family farm. How many tomatoes did she sort and pack through all those years?  

As her family grew with the marriages of her children, her grandchildren joined the crew. She labored alongside them, teaching them the dignity and value of hard work, only stopping early to go in and prepare a farm lunch for her family.  

Her grandchildren were precious in her eyes and she enjoyed hearing about and seeing all of their activities that she could; from sports to music to inquiring about their day, Betty was an integral part of her grandchildren’s lives.

Family and Faith were the twin pillars of Betty’s life. She has passed from this life in the bosom, care and love of both. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. Amen.

Funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, today, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cobden, with Father Uriel Salamanca officiating. Interment will be in the St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery. 

The Rosary was prayed at 4:30 Wednesday, Aug. 21, at the funeral home. 

Memorials may be made to the St. Joseph Catholic Church Ladies Sodality. 

To view the obituary and to leave online condolences for the family, visit 

Rendleman & Hileman Funeral Home in Cobden is in charge of arrangements.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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