Known for decades by family and friends throughout the Midwest and several Canadian provinces as the creator and baker of the best chocolate chip cookies this side of eternity, Jill Ellen Waterson Stiffler, as of 1:10 p.m. February 1st, 2020, has taken up her new position as Chief Cookie Baker in Heaven where she is having the time of her life! Jill passed away at Miller’s Merry Manor of Warsaw at the age of 87.
Born kicking and screaming on January 7th, 1933, in Michigan City, Indiana, Jill was the middle and self- appointed favorite of three daughters born to Fayne Marie Miller Waterson Johnson and Rollen Willard Waterson. Raised during the depression, her father’s job moved them often while managing theaters. Jill’s family moved to Warsaw in the late 1940’s, where she graduated from Warsaw High School in 1950. While at a basketball game her senior year, she decided she wanted to marry a young man who had caught her eye, who had graduated from Warsaw High School two years earlier. He didn’t even see it coming - that poor guy didn’t have a chance.
The next spring on May 19, 1951, Jill married Melvin (Bud) Stiffler at St. Paul’s Methodist Church in South Bend. Both sets of parents said it wouldn’t last. As of this May it would have been 69 years - Jill was not one to be told that she couldn’t do something.
Bud had enlisted in the United States Air Force by the time they were married, and he stayed in the USAF for a total of 21 years. During that time Jill, with their oldest two children in tow, accompanied Bud to Okinawa for four years before heading back to the states. All in all, Jill raised her kids in 5 different states and twice Bud served overseas without his family – a year in Korea and a year in Vietnam, while Jill stayed at home and expertly kept the kids in line.
During their time in the service, Jill worked a variety of jobs including secretary for a squadron commander and school secretary. Once Bud retired in 1971 and they moved back to Warsaw, Jill worked at Lowery’s Sewing Center for three years and then for 17 years as school secretary at Silver Lake Elementary School, which by far was her favorite job (thank you former students, she loved everyone one of you).
Jill loved to sew and cook. There wasn’t anything she couldn’t sew and won blue ribbons at both the county and state fairs for her dresses, quilts and dolls. But what Jill will be remembered for the most is her skills in the kitchen. Her cookies caused many riots and police actions amongst the grandkids for many years. Speaking of grandkids, Jill loved hers, spoiling them rotten any chance she had, and even when the ravages of Alzheimer’s had taken much of her from us, she was still always concerned about the grandbabies.
Jill was preceded in death by her parents, her older sister, Joanne Monroe, and infant son – Scotty Allen.
Jill is survived by her husband of 68 years – MSgt Ret. Melvin (Bud) Stiffler (Warsaw, Indiana); her four children: Michael (Rosemarie) Stiffler (Franklin, Indiana); Pam (Marvin) Dragoo (Warsaw, Indiana); Tim (Robin) Stiffler (Syracuse, Indiana); and Jodi (Mark) Conley (Silver Lake, Indiana). Also surviving is her sister: Jacque Hoblik (South Bend, Indiana).
She had a truckload of grandkids: Mandy Dragoo, Cassi (James) Glaze, Renee’ (Josh) Case, Mikey (Katie) Stiffler, Kristin Conley (Doug Furnish), Kacie (Jason) Langham and Mikaela (Cody) Bixler. Jill also had a boatload of great-grandkids: Jillian, Trevor, Landon, Kirsten, Jacoby, Ivy, Gideon, Riley and another great-grandson soon to make an appearance.
She liked a good joke, never had much use for cats, didn’t ever make her kids eat liver, she thought Robert Redford was the bomb, loved the Sound of Music and West Side Story, she always wanted a Jeep, loved to watch old westerns, went for a hot air balloon ride in her 70’s, and loved to listen to Straight – No Chaser. In other words – she was a darn (can I say damn?) fine woman to her friends, an amazing life-mate and partner to Bud, an outstanding mother to her kids and a saint to her grandkids. She never knew a stranger and always had mints in her purse for the grandkids. She will be missed and cherished by all who knew and loved her.
Jill’s life will be celebrated with a service at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 4, 2020 at Redpath-Fruth Funeral Home, 225 Argonne Road, Warsaw, Indiana and officiated by Pastor Jarod Osborne. Burial will follow with a graveside service at Oakwood Cemetery of Warsaw. Friends and family are invited to visit from 10:00 – 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, prior to the service.
Memorial donations may be directed to The Magical Meadows, 3386 E. 525 N., Warsaw, Indiana 46582 and would be appreciated by the family.
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