October 27, 1960-July 8, 2023
Rebecca Whittington, 62, passed away at the University of Louisville Jewish Hospital on July 8, 2023. Rebecca was an attorney who lived in Benton and had a law office in Carbondale, Illinois. She was preceded in death by her beloved parents, Rev. Carl and Eva Bennett Whittington, and her brother, Richard “Dick” Whittington. Rebecca was born in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, on October 27, 1960.
Rebecca obtained her Juris Doctor from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri, in May 1983. She was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in May 1980, with a major in political science, after only three years. She graduated from Union Grove High School in Union Grove, Wisconsin.
Rebecca had been a solo practitioner since 1997. She handled many types of cases including trusts and estates, probate, guardianships, personal injury, wrongful death, employment, insurance defense, family law, banking, municipal law, and bankruptcy.
She began her legal career as a judicial law clerk for the late Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Meyers in Benton from 1983 to 1985. She had previously externed for Magistrate Judge Meyers during law school, and she had also externed at the Office of the State Appellate Defender for the Fifth District Illinois Appellate Court. She was a member of the law firm formerly known as Feirich/Schoen/Mager/Green in Carbondale from 1988 through 1997. She worked as an associate at a law firm previously known as Mitchell Brandon & Schmidt in Carbondale from 1985 to 1988.
Rebecca was admitted to the Illinois bar and also the bars for the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. She was a member of the Illinois State Bar Association, American Bar Association, Franklin County Bar Association, Jackson County Bar Association, Illinois Pro Bono Center Board of Directors, Local Rules Committee for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, and the Seventh Circuit Bar Association.
She had been a two-term member of the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Character and Fitness for the Fifth Appellate District. She also had an appointment to the Judicial Screening Committees for the Illinois Appellate Court vacancy on the death of Justice Terrance Hopkins and on the First Circuit Court vacancy of Judge Bruce Stewart.
She was a master at the Southern Illinois American Inn of Court and member of the Steering Committee for the organization, along with being a member of the Executive Committee and Secretary/Treasurer of the Inn for four years. She was a member of the Board of Directors for the Pro Bono Center of the Illinois Bar Association in Champaign until its dissolution. She was a member of the Southern Illinois University School of Law Advisory Board of Directors for the Alternative Dispute Resolution Clinic. She was a two-term member of the Board of Governors for the Southern Illinois Law School. She received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Liberal Arts at Southern Illinois University in March 2000.
She was a past president of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce and also on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. She was a member of the Franklin County United Way Board of Directors and a member of the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra Board of Patrons. She was a member of several women’s groups including the Carbondale Business and Professional Women’s Organization and the Steering Committee of Southern Illinois Women’s Business Counsel,
Rebecca was the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Baptist Children’s Home & Family Services in Carmi and Mt. Vernon. She was also a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks. She served the Illinois Elks Association as State Organist and also a member of the State Judiciary Committee. She also served her local lodge in Benton as Lodge Secretary.
Most recently, she attended the Lebanon Missionary Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon. She attended the Immanuel Baptist Church in Benton for many years. She also attended the First Baptist Church and United Methodist Church in West Frankfort. For many years she played the piano and served as the musical director at various local churches.
In addition to her many activities, she was engaged in extensive antique collecting and animal rescue efforts, particularly rescuing standard poodles. She was a member of the Crab Orchard Kennel Club. Post-Katrina, she was a volunteer driver and short-term foster “parent” for a network of standard poodle breeds, volunteering on a varying basis. One days she rescued 17 dogs and delivered them to an American Kennel Club Rescue organization. She not only rescued dogs, she also rescued cats she found. She worked with the Heart of America Poodle Rescue for many years rescuing and adopting abandoned poodles.
She leaves behind several family members: cousin Susan (Tom) Saxe, Thompsonville, and their children Jonathan (Erin) Saxe, Rathdrum, Idaho; Matthew (Faith) Saxe, Pittsfield, Illinois; and Elizabeth (Tim) Van Orden, Athens, Texas, along with the Saxe grandchildren, Lauren, Emma, Reilly, Luke, Reesa, and Madeline. She also leaves behind cousin Gayla (Jim) Mitchell, Zeigler, and Kevin (Beth) Jarvis, Springfield.
Among her many rescues, she adopted Sabrina, Sophie, Lily, Cousin, and Roxie, along with Koko, Yum Yum, and Muffin. She leaves behind Baxter, Bosley, and Kelly, her most recent poodle rescues, who are now in the care of the Heart of America Poodle Rescue in Moscow Mills, Missouri.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, July 15, at 1:00 with visitation from 10 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Morton and Johnston Funeral Home in Benton with the Rev. Kevin Carrothers officiating. Burial will follow at the Masonic and Odd Fellows Cemetery in Benton.
Memorial donations may be made to the Heart of America Poodle Rescue, 90 Killarney Lane, Moscow Mills, Missouri 63362 and will be accepted at the funeral home.
For more information or to send online condolences please visit www.mortonjohnstonfuneralhome.com