Dr. E. Maurlea Babb, a longtime resident of Wheaton, passed away on her 94th birthday, June 22, 2021. Born in 1927 in Richland, Indiana, she grew up on a farm and later in a small town south of Lafayette. She attended a one-building school for grades 1-12, with 12-15 students in each grade. When in her freshman year her school merged with another high school, she met Russell Babb from Mellott, who became her high school sweetheart and later her husband in February 1947.
When Maurlea was in the first grade, her mother died, and this led to her being raised in the homes of foster families and relatives for several years. It was from this experience that Maurlea developed a passion for helping youth, and over the years she opened her own home to nurture and mentor over 25 foster children and adolescents, many of whom returned later to express their gratitude.
Maurlea was thankful for the pivotal role that the Methodist church played throughout her childhood, including providing her with scholarship money to attend college, and she devoted much of her adult life to providing faithful leadership, vision, and resources for numerous committees and ministries at her home church, the First United Methodist Church in Glen Ellyn. She was creative and innovative, often establishing new ventures such as a coffeehouse in the early seventies where youth could hang out at the church. For decades she taught a popular weekly Family Life class and sang in the choir at the church. She was also proud to serve as a Board member, and Lifelong Trustee, of the Chicago Methodist Senior Services organization which provides services and housing to support seniors at every stage of life. Perhaps no ministry reflected her passion and dedication to helping under resourced people more than the Appalachia Services Project, on whose Board she served for many years and whose ongoing annual summer youth missions trips at her church she initiated nearly 50 years ago.
Maurlea believed in the value of education, and after raising her children and working as a high school guidance counselor for several years, she returned to graduate school in her fifties to earn her doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northern Illinois University. She founded a counseling practice, Chrysallis, where she experienced immense purpose and joy in providing supervision and training for marriage and family therapists as well as life-changing therapy for countless individuals, couples, and families up until her death. Maurlea was known as the eternal optimist, seeing the best in everyone and always believing in a person’s capacity to change and grow.
Maurlea was very active in the Illinois Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. She served as its President, was instrumental in getting the Illinois licensure bill for Marriage and Family Therapists passed and became the first Marriage and Family Therapist in Illinois to get this license. Maurlea remained on the Licensure Board until her death.
Maurlea also served on many other boards and agencies in the community, earning many distinguished service awards. She was recognized by the YWCA of DuPage County with an Outstanding Leader Award as an individual who served as a role model for women aspiring to personal and professional success, as well as one who was committed to racial justice.
Maurlea was full of life, strong, resilient, courageous, loving, generous, wise, faithful, and tireless in her efforts to leave the world a better place. She always said that she “hoped to make a difference.” To those of us who knew and loved her, there is no question that she did. Maurlea lived her faith on a daily basis, not just in words, but also in her actions. She truly represented the Great Generation well, appealed to “the better angels of our nature”, and inspired us to become our best selves. She is survived by her beloved daughters, Sue Babb, Joyce Babb, and Janet (Babb) Book and beloved granddaughters Lauren Babb and Sarah Babb. After her beloved husband Russell passed away, she later married and was well loved and cared for by John Marteja; survivors also include his beloved children Julia and Edward.
Maurlea’s family encourages you to celebrate her life by leaving a comment or posting a photo on the Tribute Wall. (Link can be found at the top of this page). For those wishing to honor Maurlea’s legacy through a donation to the Appalachia Services Project you can select the Maurlea Babb ASP Scholarship fund from this link https://tinyurl.com/2k257m29