University News

Beth Stiffler Obituary

January 14, 2016

Share |
Printer friendly version

MACOMB, IL — Western Illinois University English Chair and Professor Emeritus Beth (Lenora) Mackey Stiffler passed away Dec. 18 in South Yarmouth. A memorial service will be set at a later date.

The former U.S. Navy WAVE and Naval officer, Stiffler began her education career in 1957 teaching second grade at the WIU Laboratory School. Several years later, she joined the English Department, and taught junior high and high school English and Journalism. She sponsored the yearbooks and newspapers at the lab school. At the lab school's closing, Stiffler joined the WIU English department in 1973, where she taught undergraduate and graduate classes and eventually rose to the position of chair of the department in 1982. She retired in 1987.

She served as president of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in Macomb, spearheading a four-year long effort to establish a mental health facility serving McDonough and Fulton counties. Author of the successful grant, she received word in March 1972 from Congressman Tom Railsback and Senator Adlai Stevenson that over $3 million had been approved for mental health services in the two counties. Stiffler was also a founding member of the McDonough County League of Women Voters, a group in that day characterized by some as a "wild-eyed organization of radical women." She was also active in organizations involved with her profession, the National Council of Teachers of English and the Illinois Association of Teachers of English.

Stiffler received the 1983-84 Western Organization for Women Achievement Award, and was among 45 women from WIU to be featured in the 2000 exhibit, "Women of Western Centennial Photographic Exhibit." In 2010, she received the Macomb Feminist Network Writing Women Back into History Award for her extraordinary contributions to Macomb and McDonough County.

She was preceded in death by her husband Harold and son Eric. She is survived by her two sons, David and Randall; one nephew, Thomas G. Mackey; five grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Stiffler's honor may be made to the Western Illinois University Foundation, c/o Western Illinois University, 1 University Drive, Macomb, IL 61455. Donations should be designated for the "Beth M. Stiffler Scholarship in English."

A full obituary can be found at

Posted By: University Communications (
Office of University Communications & Marketing