Millie Lou Daggett, 87, formerly of Colona, Ill., passed gently and eagerly into the arms of her beloved God on June 3, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. She was surrounded by family who deeply loved their matriarch, her contagious laughter, wisdom, hugs and priceless stories of days gone by.

Born Millie Lou Whitlow May 9, 1934, between Riverview and Driftwood in Lawrence County, Arkansas, she was the youngest child of Charles Reeves and Mattie Segraves Whitlow. She grew up in Riverview and Sloantown, surrounded by loving relatives and neighbors, walking to school, church and the cotton fields of the Strawberry River bottomlands. Recognized anywhere by her strawberry blonde hair, beautiful smile, baby blues and outgoing personality, she was playful, joyful and carefree. She commented in later years how happy her Depression-era childhood was, often saying, “We were rich with love. We never knew we were poor.” She saved their WWII ration cards. She was proud of her southern roots, where neighbors helped one another with births, deaths and everything in between when times were tough. She loved her country and honored all who served.

As a student, she was smart, athletic –one fierce basketball player – and industrious. After graduating from Strawberry High School, she moved to Memphis, attended secretarial school and worked for Campbell Clinic. She married John Morton Daggett of Saffell, moved to the Quad Cities in Illinois and raised their family of three children. As Sunday school teacher at Third Street Baptist Church in East Moline, Ill., she shared her deep faith and love of Jesus Christ. She welcomed a friendly discussion of the King James Version Bible with any stranger who dared to show up at her doorstep to evangelize. She loved to talk.

Millie kept a meticulous home for her family, passing along self-sufficiency skills and rural traditions – cooking, gardening, fishing, canning, sewing, quilting, embroidery, crocheting, singing gospel hymns, reading music and playing the piano. She was frugal, clipped coupons, collected S&H Green Stamps and shopped garage sales for bargains. Garage sales led to a small business, buying and selling everything from antique glass and coins to collectibles, like trading cards and beer cans at flea markets. She didn’t sell a thing for more than twice what she paid for it. She always made room for others to profit a little in their resale. At some point along the flea market trail, she adopted the moniker and CB handle “KZLady.” It stuck.

She was recruited from a temp agency and hired as a full-time secretary at John Deere, where she worked in several departments before retirement. She transferred to Kansas City, Dubuque and back to the Quad Cities.

With promotions, she was able to save and move from her trailer in Coal Valley to a two-story home she bought on Rock River. There, she found peace and refuge watching eagles and migratory birds soar and the river flow. For years, she volunteered rescuing and nursing young and injured wild animals: squirrels, raccoons, an occasional fox, even a fawn or two. She fostered and adopted several neglected and abused exotic birds, teaching more than one to sing “How Great Thou Art.”

She loved nature, keeping a deck full of bird feeders, rocking in her swing, telling old timey stories, singing “tear jerkers,” studying her genealogy, and birthday dining at buffets with friends. She introduced her granddaughters to country line dancing. She loved peignoir nightgowns, Frank’s pizza, biscuits and sausage gravy, Hardees fried chicken and blue. She loved blue.

In recent years, she moved to Tennessee to be near family and was a resident of Morning Pointe Assisted Living in Tullahoma.

She is preceded in death by her “Mom” and “Daddy”; brothers Wallace, Worrence and Willard Whitlow (Lawrence County); sisters, Mildred Randolph Maxwell (Saffell) and Anita Faye Couturier (Memphis); her beloved son, John Michael Daggett (Colona, Ill.); and son-in-law, Bart Chilton (Arlington, Va.)

She leaves behind her loyal, loving canine companion, Panda; two daughters, Cathy Daconto (Dean), (Tennessee) and Sherry Chilton, (Arkansas); eight grandchildren in Tennessee, Florida, Illinois and Texas; 18 great-grandchildren; and 29 nieces and nephews.

Her ashes will be distributed in accordance with her wishes. In lieu of flowers, memories and photos shared on her Find a Grave or Trimble Funeral Home (Legacy) Memorial page are greatly appreciated.

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