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1946 Pam 2024

Pam Austin

November 17, 1946 — January 29, 2024

DESOTO - Pamela Austin, born in 1946, in DeSoto, IL, was the daughter of Ruby Batteau and Ernest Pirofalo.


Part of her childhood was spent with her Aunt Eathlee Batteau McCord, and her husband, Robert. Pam looked to Eathlee as a maternal figure until she passed prematurely. Pam then lived with her Uncle Ray and Aunt Sue Batteau on the outskirts of DeSoto. She fondly spoke of these years as being her golden years, where she felt the love of family, living just down the road from her Grandpa and Grandma Batteau. She experienced life on a working farm; being chased by guineas down the road to the school bus, the days of having to use an outhouse- even in the dead of night or the coldest days of winter, and bathing in a washtub by a coal fire. She would say Aunt Sue would go first as she was the cleanest, then herself, then Uncle Ray, who worked in the coal mine and often came home blackened from coal soot. 


Pam recalled racing her cousins to see who would get to the sun porch first, where the women were cleaning and plucking chickens in scalding water. Unfortunately, she won and proceeded to fall into the boiling water resulting in burns on her legs. Back then the remedy was to apply butter, which was the worst solution as it held in the heat. Fortunately she did not suffer any lasting injuries from that fall, but she did endure the bite of a goose that left a scar on her leg. Her Uncle Ray would say “Pammie, you’re going to have to learn how to use a broom” in an attempt to prevent the various farm animals from chasing and biting her. Pam would say they were poor, but she didn’t know it, as her belly was full and she was loved. 


Pam had three children in total, the first a full term boy, who was born still. Her daughter, Heather was born in 1967, then her son, Damon born in 1970. Pam’s son in love, Christopher Ruph was a great support to her and her daughter, Heather. They shared many good times together over the years.  Pam was blessed with a bonus son, Mike Austin, his wife Janet, grandson, Mark granddaughter, Megan and great granddaughter Abigail. Pam also fell in love with and was loved by her daughter in law, Natalie.


The love of her life, Harold “Bud” Austin preceded her in death in 1983. 


Pam’s love language was feeding people. Pam worked at the DeSoto Grade School for decades before she retired. She lovingly fed hundreds of school children daily and ensured all children who were hungry had food. She even secretly provided sandwiches for children to take home, who she identified as food scarce. 


Pam also worked for Thelma Blumenstock at the DeSoto Cafe, but Thelma was more than just an employer to Pam as she and her husband, Howard, were like parents to her as well, and grandparents to her children. When she had nowhere to stay, she was welcomed into their home along with her infant daughter. Thelma and Howard remained a constant presence in Pam’s life and she loved them like family. 


Pam’s potato salad and Red Velvet cake were two regularly requested dishes for pot lucks, among others. Pam could be found in many kitchens at various events, including the DeSoto Community Park festivities and Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church holidays and funerals. She volunteered of her time tirelessly for numerous fundraisers, funerals and celebrations. It was of upmost importance to Pam to support others in their time of need- likely because she knew how it felt to be on the other end. She was generous to a fault and had a heart the size of Texas. 

Pam loved to host her family birthday celebrations as well. Her Aunts and cousins would gather at her home to partake in appetizers and cake in celebration. 


Pam was a member of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church since childhood. She spent much of her time in the home of Pastor and Shirley West, who acted as parental figures to her, as well as spiritual guides. She developed a lifelong friendship with their daughter, Lola “Suz” Jones that continued until the end of her life. 


Gifts of remembrance can be made to Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in DeSoto, IL per Pam’s wishes. 


Pam was also befriended by Martha “Pete” Bean and her husband, Ty, who were members of Mt. Calvary. They supported Pam and her children throughout their lives, as if they were their own, and became Mamaw and Papaw to her children. They were a bedrock for Pam and her children. 


Pam also was fortunate to have a special relationship with Dana Breeden Smith and her family, including Dana’s mother and father, George and Margaret Breeden, as well as sisters Lisa and Jackie. Pam viewed them as siblings and had the good fortune of spending holidays with them. 


Pam was surrounded and enveloped with the friendship and love of other women who supported her throughout her life: her cousin, Sharlet Piper, Sharlet’s daughter, Lelia Dryer, Janice Judd, Viola Jones, Linda Harrison, Joyce Vaughn, Alice Balsano and Ruth Bowlby to name a few. Her sister in Christ, Barbara Eicholz, was always there for Pam, too, as well as her biological sisters, Janet Belles and Lois Clark.  There are numerous individuals who thought the world of Pam and in no way is this list inclusive of all of them. The love she extended to others came back to her ten-fold. Her family will forever be grateful for each and every person who made an impact on Pam’s life. 


Not all Pam’s precious relationships were human; Pam had great love and joy caring for her adopted Pomeranian, Peggin’, who will undoubtedly be waiting for her at the Rainbow Bridge. Pam requests gifts of remembrance be made to St. Francis Community Animal Rescue and Education in Murphysboro, IL. 


Pam left behind two paternal brothers, Ernest and Victor Pirofalo, as well as, two sisters, Marjorie Pirofalo and Theresa Pirofalo Voss, all of whom she sadly never had the pleasure to meet. Her father Ernest preceded her on death in 2010. She was excited to learn of her paternal family as she desired to know her biological father for most of her life. Learning she had siblings, and many more family members than she dreamt of was extra exciting! 


Pam’s greatest joys were her granddaughters, Sophia Ruph and Haley Austin. 


Her legacy will live on through them as the values she held dear, to treat others as you would want to be treated, to treat people equally, to care for the vulnerable, and to give freely of your time, money and love will no doubt be replicated and walked out through her descendants. 


Pam will be laid to rest next to her husband at DeSoto Cemetery- a reunion decades in the making. They will be dancing in tandem, cheek to cheek, on the streets of gold. 


Service will be held at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in DeSoto on Saturday, February 3, 2024 at 11am with Paul Copeland officiating.  Visitation will be from 10am until the time of service on Saturday at the church.


Meredith Funeral Home in Carbondale assisted the family with arrangements.  To leave a story or memory of Pam visit



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Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, February 3, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church

114 S. Oak street, De Soto, IL 62924

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Funeral Service

Saturday, February 3, 2024

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church

114 S. Oak Street, De Soto, IL 62924

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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