Memorial service honors life of professor

To many of Anita Louise Feller’s students and friends, she was more than just an accountancy professor in the College of Business.

“Feller was remembered Friday”:https://www.dailyillini.com/index.php/article/2011/09/memorial_service_friday_to_honor_ui_professor_of_accountancy at the Levis Faculty Center after “passing away”:https://www.dailyillini.com/index.php/article/2011/08/business_faculty_member_passes_away_from_illness from pancreatic cancer at the end of July. Friends and students trickled into the room showing a slideshow of pictures from Feller’s birth up until recent years, with bouquets of flowers lined up in the front of the room.

As Rev. Kenneth Truelove, also a neighbor of Feller, commenced the service, he welcomed family, friends and students to the podium to share their “Anita memories.”

As each person came up one by one to speak about their personal stories with Feller, the crowd laughed and cried in agreement with the descriptions of the full-spirited person each story painted.

Her sister and brother told tales of times when they reunited with Feller and ended up going on a few “crazy adventures.” Her youngest sister, Susan Simmers, recited a poem she wrote and described the time when she came to visit her older sister in college and tried to convince her to go skydiving. Instead, Susan watched Feller jump out of a plane.

Feller was described as a person that worked hard and lived life to the fullest. Joe Simmers, her brother, said whenever she had the chance to get a head start on her weekend, she would drive to the nation’s capital just to ride her bicycle around the D.C. area and then would come back home on Sunday. Another weekend, Feller flew to Paris, France, just to see how the city looked during the springtime.

Bill Zhang, senior in Business, was one of Feller’s students this summer for her Accounting Control Systems class. Zhang described Feller as a teacher who genuinely cared about investing in her students. Zhang is a student in the Naval Reserves and would miss class for training, but he said Feller never forgot to send him notes from class and explain the materials.

“She is a very smart, bright and brilliant professor,” Zhang said. “In other classes, you just want to go to sleep but in her class she told us real stories, her stories and her experience. She has a great passion for accounting.”

Susan Simmers said she knew her sister was experiencing pain but didn’t discover its source until it was too late.

“We didn’t find out what it was until the end of May, and then she was only here about 60 days after we found out,” Simmers said. “I know that in June, she was still feeling reasonably well and she was very determined to teach that summer class. She had told me that she was going to fulfill her summer school duty.”

Feller’s accounting students didn’t have any idea that she had been fighting this disease until Feller had mentioned something to a student on the Thursday before the final.

“Thursday after class, she was talking to my friend Will because he had a question for her. She was crying and she told Will, ‘You guys might lose me this weekend,’” Zhang said. “She told Will that she hoped she could be kept alive until the fall semester but she didn’t make it.”

Barbara Zamudio, friend, former student and teacher’s assistant to Feller, spoke about the biggest life lesson Feller taught her.

“Whatever life gives you, take it and enjoy it and experience it,” Zamudio said.