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Elizabeth D. 'Betty' Novak

KEWANEE - Elizabeth “Betty” D. Novak, 95, of Kewanee, died at 1:15 PM, Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at the Kewanee Care Home.

This final epitaph is not easily written especially if it concerns a loved one, in this case Elizabeth Novak, better known to everyone as “Betty” who has lived a very eventful life and was a long time business woman of this community. This narrative of Betty’s life is shared from her nephew, Josef.

I came to know her about 65 years ago when our paths crossed for the first time when she and her husband, my uncle George got off the train which just had pulled in the North West railroad terminal in Vienna which had been ravished by war. Electric bulbs on pig tails were hanging from improvised ceiling and illuminated the rickety boardwalk. Recognizing me and realizing who this 8 year old boy was, she placed a kiss on my lips. Little did I know what was in store for me and what the future would hold as this was the beginning of a lifelong journey which spanned more than a century and which was brought to its conclusion when for the last time I placed a kiss on her lips, before our Lord and Master called her home. At some point I declined to inherit my folk’s furniture factory which was to be mine and instead chose to make a new life here in the United States, as I never had much use for the big city I grew up in even so it was and still is considered to be beautiful, what most people who have visited Vienna can vouch for and instead decided to give the U.S. and a little town by the name of Kewanee a try a decision I never regretted. The time was September 17, 1960 many of you recognize it and regard this as the “Good old days which may be gone forever” and become part of the Novak family.

For many years Elizabeth played an active part as the manager of Novak Travel Service which was established under Carl Novak her husband’s brother and after his death she took over the helm along with her husband George who passed away in 1976. She was also heavily involved in another business which went under the name of “Novak Brother’s” and eventually changed to Novak’s Cleaners which was established around 1920 of which Josef Novak became a part of in 1960. Eventually the business expanded under Joe’s guidance into wholesale leather and fur cleaning and repairs; with accounts ranging from Fairbanks, Alaska all the way to the state of Mississippi including some of the largest cleaning plants in Peoria and the Quad Cities. Elizabeth played an instrumental part in its successful operation, along with many long time, faithful and skilled employees such as Peggy Brody and Kenneth L. Johnson who started as a teen who is not only a dear friend but eventually due to his good judgement and skills required in this business became the plant manager.

Elizabeth enjoyed traveling with many trips taking her all over Europe as well as Africa. She was an active member of Zion Lutheran Church, the Rebecca Lodge, the Business and Professional Woman’s Club, a board member of the Salvation Army and The Whiting Home. She was also a strong contributor to many charitable causes for people in need. But as with all of us, eventually time took its toll and when she fractured her hip during a fall early in 2013 her unavoidable decline began; ending in her demise on November 26, 2013 when her eventful journey through life came to an abrupt end. Needless to say she will be greatly missed.

She was born November 6, 1918 in Kewanee, the daughter of Ivan and Kristen (Munson) Dunder. She married George W. Novak on August 4, 1940 in Galva and he preceded her in death on July 7, 1976. Survivors are her nephew, Joe Novak who not only was a co-worker but also one who dearly loved her and our four cats, Casper, Missy, White Paw and Felicia.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 AM, Monday, December 2 at Zion Lutheran Church in Kewanee. Rev. David Schweppe will officiate. Visitation will be held one prior to the services at the church. Burial will be in Pleasant View Cemetery. Memorials may be directed to the Salvation Army, the Henry County Human Society or to Zion Lutheran Church.

Thank you in advance for any donations as they will be going to the neediest in our society which Betty and I championed and supported over the years .Please do not feel slighted if a thank you note for your donation may not be forthcoming as I am not the world’s greatest letter writer, but be assured I would like to convey my heartfelt thanks. This obituary may be viewed and private condolences left at



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