Elaine Xavera Pro (Protosevich), nee Sebastian (Sebastijonas), died peacefully at home surrounded by family on September 14, 2015. She was 90 years old.\r\r\n\r\r\n Best known as an educator, Elaine was a unique, brilliant, creative woman full of wit, warmth, and charm. A kind and generous person, she believed in the adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say about anyone, don’t say anything at all.”\r\r\n\r\r\n Elaine was born October 23, 1924, in Chicago to Mr. and Mrs. William and Marian Sebastian. Her father was a Lithuanian immigrant who ran a small but successful business, Justice Electric (the company’s slogan was “Yes! There is Justice!”). Elaine and her brother Robert enjoyed a happy childhood, much of it due to her parents possessing a terrific sense of humor (a family trait).\r\r\n\r\r\n Unlike most young women from the Brighton Park neighborhood at that time, Elaine attended college, first at Wilson Junior College, and later at the University of Minnesota, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a focus in social work.\r\r\n\r\r\n Shortly after graduation, Elaine accepted a position at the Institute of Living, a private mental hospital in Hartford, Connecticut. After a year, she became very homesick, returned to the Chicago area, and took a similar position at Manteno State Hospital in Kankakee, Illinois.\r\r\n\r\r\n It was during this time that she met George Protosevich, a former U.S. Marine who served in the Pacific Theater during World War Two. Elaine wore glasses, but on their first date, she hid this from George. At the movies, when he saw her squinting at the screen, George whispered, “Elaine, do you wear glasses?” She nodded and without judgment, George matter-of-factly said, “Well, put them on.” Elaine often stated that this was the moment she knew George was going to be her husband.\r\r\n\r\r\n They were married on July 10, 1948, a union that lasted 64 years.\r\r\n\r\r\n While George worked as an electrician for Justice Electric, Elaine spent the next twenty years raising five children – Judy, Jack, Robert, Nancy, and Mark – but in her late 40s, she returned to her studies, this time at Chicago State College, with a focus on education, and in 1975 was certified as a teacher by the Chicago Public Schools system. She joined the Chicago Public Teachers Union (a union to which she was very devoted) and began her career in education as a substitute teacher, primarily at Kershaw Elementary School.\r\r\n\r\r\n Elaine then took a permanent position at Burroughs Elementary School, where she taught children classified as Educable Mentally Handicapped. A dedicated, caring instructor, she was passionate about making education fun, exciting, and challenging for her “kids.” Elaine stayed at Burroughs, teaching EMH students, for seventeen years.\r\r\n\r\r\n Upon retirement, she and George moved to Lake Summerset, in northern Illinois, where they resided for over 34 years. Most recently, Elaine lived in Rockton, IL, under her daughter Judy’s care.\r\r\n\r\r\n Elaine was a great lover and supporter of the Arts. She played the piano, drew cartoons, and wrote humorous stories – all for the joy of it. She was passionate about classical music, painting, jazz vocalists, dance, literature, and film, and she shared this passion with her children, taking them to movies, jazz concerts, the ballet, symphony performances, Shakespeare plays, and the Art Institute of Chicago.\r\r\n\r\r\n She was a lifelong fan of the Chicago White Sox and greatly enjoyed square dancing – two passions she shared with her husband George.\r\r\n\r\r\n More than anything, Elaine was devoted to her family, instilling in her children curiosity, compassion, a thirst for knowledge, a love of adventure, the importance of a sense of humor, and the simple joy of having fun. Shared laughter was treasured.\r\r\n\r\r\n She is survived by her five children; Judy (and Larry) Armstrong of Rockton, IL, Dr. Jack (and Jill) Preston of Sewickley, PA, Lt. Col. Robert Protosevich of Alexandria, VA, Nancy (and Rick) Fanciullacci of Hatfield, PA, and Mark Protosevich (and Robena Malicoat) of Provincetown, MA; grandchildren, Jessica Burchett, Kristin Fanciullacci, Kelsey (and Luke) Hendrixson, Alex Protosevich (and Liz Hanson), Laura Fanciullacci, and Ian and Dana Preston. She was preceded in death by her parents, William and Marian; lifelong friend Anne Shimkaitis (known to all as Aunt Fanni); husband, George; and brother, Robert Sebastian.\r\r\n\r\r\n A memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, November 14, 2015, at Grace United Methodist Church, 3555 McFarland Road, Rockford, IL. McCorkle Funeral Home-Rockton Chapel, 767 N Blackhawk Blvd., Rockton, Illinois assisted the family.\r\r\n\r\r\n In lieu of flowers memorials may be given to Friends Forever Humane Society, 966 Rudy Road, Freeport, IL 61032.