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New Lenox woman had a passion for area’s history

Diane Batswith her brother Mark Bats Sun-Times Medi2008 file photo

Diane Batson with her brother Mark Batson Sun-Times Media 2008 file photo

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Updated: September 28, 2013 9:44PM

The Francis-Walker home in New Lenox is expected to soon become a historic landmark, thanks in large measure to research done by Diane Batson, who after retiring as a teacher and librarian made landmarks her legacy.

Ms. Batson died Sept. 5 of cancer. She was 75.

Born and reared in New Lenox, Ms. Batson was passionate about preserving as much of its history as she could. Through her research, sites have been designated as Will County landmarks including Schmuhl School, Marshall Cemetery, Francis 4-H Field, the Boy Scout log cabin and Haven School, where she attended grade school.

“Even though she struggled with it for many years, she said, ‘Cancer does not define me.’ She wanted people to remember her landmarks,” said Lori Lindberg, chairman of the New Lenox Area Historical Society. “She was so passionate about this. She felt it was important to teach children where the town came from. She was a lifelong lover of literature and history.”

Ms. Batson graduated from Lincoln-Way High School in 1956, got a bachelor’s degree in education from Northwestern University, a master’s in Latin from DePaul University and a master’s in library science from Indiana University, according to her brother, Mark Batson, who is on the Will County Historic Preservation Commission and often worked with her to research potential landmarks.

She first taught at Morton East High School in Cicero and later at Lockport West High School and was a school librarian at Wheaton Central and Wheaton-Warrenville high schools.

“She was so knowledgeable,” said Virginia Ferry, chairman of the Will County Historic Preservation Commission. “She and Mark would take our rural structure survey and ride around visiting people and talk to them about landmarking their building.

“Once you gave Diane an assignment, she did it remarkably well. It was beautifully researched,” she said.

A service is planned for 11 a.m. Oct. 5 at United Methodist Church of New Lenox.

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