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Ericka Donelle Uskali, 54, of St. Joseph, IL was welcomed into heaven on Saturday, August 12, 2023. Ericka’s was a life well-lived, marked by zest for family, boundless creativity, lifelong learning, flamboyant fun, and a stalwart faith in Jesus Christ.
Ericka was born in Jerseyville, IL on August 17, 1968, the daughter of Donald Jerome Stuckey and Mary Ruth Stuckey of Medora, IL. The youngest of four children in a fun-loving home that valued faith, family, and education, Ericka recalled that in the Stuckey home, they were taught “to pray, trust God, forgive, give to others, set goals and strive to reach them, use their creativity, love music and the power of words, and to live their lives focused more on others than self.” These lessons were evident in Ericka’s relationships, education, and career.
Ericka married Timothy Uskali on April 3, 2004. She was always bragging on her sweet Tim, describing him as, “the love of my life, the one who truly amazes me with his kindness, follows hard after God’s heart, loves his children and grandchildren, and makes me laugh out loud with his ‘Timisms.’” In marrying Tim, she was also blessed to become a mom to his three children: Mike, Aaron, and Amber Leigh. Tim and Ericka welcomed a fourth child, Isaiah Timothy, on September 18, 2008. Ericka once recounted, “For years and years, I wanted to be a mom. My dreams came true when these four gifts came into my life. I didn’t become a mom by giving birth, but three came as a bonus with their dad and one came because of his heroic birth mom. I may not have become a mom through traditional methods, but God knew that these four amazing individuals would fill the missing piece of my heart.”
Ericka was led to faith by her mother, and dedicated her life to Jesus at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Medora, IL. At an early age, she felt the call of God to the mission field. While attending Eastern Illinois University, Ericka served for three months each summer as a missionary in Florida and Colorado. After college, she accepted a position as a missionary in Togo, West Africa with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. For two years, Ericka taught the children of missionaries serving in Togo and became an integral part of their community and ministry. While abroad, Ericka faced many life-threatening adversities, which served to strengthen her faith. These years ignited in her a passion for travel and many more mission trips, returning to Africa several times.
Ericka’s creativity shined brightest through her role as an educator. Upon her return from Togo, she taught middle school social studies and language arts at Yorkville Middle School, Bethalto Middle School, and Triad Middle School. Her passion for experiential learning and outstanding instructional practices opened up opportunities far and wide to aid in middle school reform and research, promoting best practices in education and inclusive opportunities for all students. Notably, in Ericka’s professional career, she served as the assistant executive director for the Association of Illinois Middle-Level Schools, which worked to improve struggling schools across the state. She later became the executive director of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform, inspiring teachers from Washington D.C. to China. Closer to home, Ericka worked as the Transformation Officer in Danville Community School District, and most recently as the Director of Curriculum and Student Learning in Urbana School District. While navigating a dynamic career, Ericka earned her Master of Education in Administration, and a Specialist degree in Superintendency and Educational System Administration from Eastern Illinois University.
Ericka believed in the centrality of family, and she exemplified intentionality in all of her many family relationships. She was thrilled to have four beloved children: Mike (Briana) Uskali of Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Aaron Uskali of Mountain Home, Arkansas, Amber Uskali of Powder Springs, Georgia, and Isaiah Uskali of St. Joseph, Illinois. She was also a proud grandmother to Abigail, Emery, and Rhys Uskali. Ericka shared a strong bond with her siblings: Richard (Candy) Stuckey of Brighton, IL, Cristie (Tim) Lewis of Troy, IL, and the late Melissa (Harry) Clendenin of Sidney, OH. One of her greatest joys in life was that of being an aunt, and she poured much love and silliness into the lives of Sarah, Jesse, Shaun, Andy, Valerie, Lindsay, Brad, Gail, Nate, Jalee, and Sam. She was preceded in death by her sister Melissa and her parents, Don and Ruth Stuckey. We can only imagine the grand reunion that is happening with them in heaven today.
Ericka’s unwavering faith in Jesus Christ was the hallmark of her life, and she dedicated her days to sharing the gospel, both at home and abroad. Ericka spent her life faithfully serving her church family, and was a member of Living Word Family Church in St. Joseph, IL for nearly 20 years. Though she served in various areas of church life, her heart belonged to worship ministry, where she felt she could best express her love of God. Through the trials and triumphs of life, Ericka lived by this motto: “I have faith in the faithfulness of God. He is ALWAYS faithful!”
Ericka’s family will receive family and friends for visitation on Thursday, August 17, 2023 beginning at 9:00 a.m. at Living Word Family Church in St. Joseph, IL. A celebration of Ericka’s life will begin at 11:00 a.m. at the church with Rev. Scott Millis officiating. The burial will be at Medora Cemetery, where Ericka will be laid to rest alongside her parents. Funeral arrangements are in care of Freese Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to Living Word Family Church in honor of Ericka. Condolences may also be expressed to the Uskali family at the funeral home’s website www.freesefh.com.