Melva J. Essex


Melva J. Essex, age 93, of Oquawka, Illinois, passed away at 6:40 pm on Thursday, May 2, 2024, in the Betty’s Garden wing of Courtyard Estates in Monmouth, Illinois. Melva was born on January 23, 1931, in rural Rozetta, Illinois and is the daughter of Joseph J. and Martha M. (Collins) McVey. Melva spent her early childhood in Rozetta. At the age of ten, the family moved to Oquawka, Illinois where she later graduated from G & O High School. Melva married Jimmie Lee Essex on March 11, 1950, in Gladstone, and he preceded her in death on January 5, 1997.

Melva began work as an operator for the telephone company in Oquawka, Illinois. She then was an assembler for fifteen years at Sylvania in Burlington, Iowa. Her favorite title, however, was being a Grandma and babysitting her grandchildren in her home while they were growing up. Melva loved to go to yard sales and flea markets. She loved cooking, planting flowers, quilting, embroidering, and doing puzzles. She was a member of the Oquawka United Methodist Church and loved going to lunch with her friends after church.

Melva is survived by her daughter, Wanda Cook, of Oquawka, Illinois and son, David Essex (Dorothy), also of Oquawka, Illinois. She has six grandchildren, Pam Orwig (Jeff) of Galesburg, Illinois, Lisa Carroll of Monmouth, Illinois, Paula Cook of Oquawka, Illinois, Cynthia Cox (Chris) of Monmouth, Illinois, Angie Dunning (Bill) of Taylorsville, Kentucky, and Amanda Reynolds (Mike) of Burlington, Iowa.  There are also numerous Great Grandchildren surviving. She also leaves behind her life long friend, Bonnie Frank and cousin, Maude Meyer. She is preceded in death by her parents, husband, two sisters, and five brothers.

A funeral service for Melva Essex will take place on Wednesday, May 8, 2024, at 11:00 am at Turnbull Funeral Home in Oquawka, Illinois. A visitation will occur at the funeral home from 10:00 to 11:00 am prior to her funeral service. A private family interment will follow at Oquawka Cemetery where she will be laid to rest next to her husband. Memorials may be made to either “Betty’s Garden” at Courtyard Estates in Monmouth, or to the Oquawka United Methodist Church. To leave your remembrance or for more information please visit

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