Friends of Myra Becker say the 94-year-old Elgin woman never shied away from taking a stance, as evidenced by her oversized yard sign calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump that turned heads last month.
Her community involvement was unparalleled, they said, and she remained active even as her health started declining in recent years.
Becker died Tuesday, less than two weeks after participating in a Keep Families Together rally in Elgin. Friend and fellow activist Loni Mecum said the community already is feeling her loss.
"It's really hard to describe what an incredible woman she was," Mecum said. "She was a real spitfire. She's going to be missed terribly."
Becker, who lived in Elgin 54 years, was an active member and sat on the boards of the YWCA Elgin and the League of Women Voters of the Elgin Area. Mecum, who served with her in both organizations, said Becker always spoke up during meetings and pushed forward new ideas to make both groups stronger.
Becker led the charge in creating a local group called Women on the Brink, which aims to offer affordable child care and help women overcome poverty, friends say. She also was involved in the American Association for University Women, advocated for mental health services and participated in political events and protests.
"Myra was just this tiny little ball of energy -- a very feisty lady," said Carol Grom, vice president of the League of Women Voters of the Elgin Area. "She stood up for what she believed in."
An "Impeach President Trump Now" sign had been up in Becker's yard since February before a city code compliance officer told Becker in June that she needed to remove it because it was too large under city code. Instead, Becker asked her friend to help her cut down the size of the sign to conform with the rules.
Becker told the Daily Herald her age prevented her from being able to participate in political marches or protests. The sign was a way of expressing her "strong feeling" about the president, she said.
"It's a statement, and I think it's an important one," Becker said.
Becker, a retired speech pathologist, was married for 49 years until her husband, Morton, died, according to her obituary. She is survived by three children, several grandchildren and a great-grandson.
A memorial service is set for 2 p.m. Friday at Beth Tikvah Congregation, 300 W. Hillcrest Blvd. The interment will be in Minnesota.
Contributions can be made in lieu of flowers to the Community Crisis Center or the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.