If you’ve ever wondered whether you’ve met a saint in your life, you have if you met and knew Stephanie Purkey. Stephanie was one of those wonderful, ordinary people who did extraordinary things. Unless you remember reading in the Pantagraph about her and her husband, Jerry, riding the city buses to various stores, purchasing food and other items with the coupons she clipped, you probably didn’t know you were sitting next to them and their shopping cart on the bus.
To those of us who knew them and saw the generous things they did for less fortunate people, Stephanie and Jerry were nothing short of legendary. Struggling to meet ends on their own, they understood the problems faced daily by people who had to do whatever was needed to survive.
As a volunteer at Clare House, I had the good fortune to meet and know Stephanie and Jerry and marvel at her stories of using coupons to purchase or obtain free items at various stores throughout Bloomington-Normal. Stephanie reveled in her “successes” of impressing store managers when she used her coupons to purchase large numbers of items, which she then donated to Clare House so that other less fortunate people would be fed.
Stephanie’s passing leaves a significant void in our community, I don’t know if we will ever be able to replace her. I hope that her example of giving will inspire us all to be more generous and give to others as she would want us to.
Bill Tolone, Normal