French Canadian Interview Project

Cleva Hubert was born one half mile south of Wichert on August 30, 1916, the daughter of Edith Grace Wingerter Hubert and Cleveland William Hubert. Edith was the daughter of Dorothea Piepho Wingerter and George Wingerter who were both born in Germany and moved to the St. Anne area in the 1870s from Chicago after the great fire—George having escaped the fire by swimming the Chicago River. Cleve (Cleveland) was the son of Amelia Sainte Hubert and Peter Hubert and was one of 16 children born into a very musical family.

Cleva and her older sisters, Dorothy Amelia and Edith Margarite, grew up on the farm that her grandfather Wingerter had purchased in the 1870s. They raised chickens, milk cows, vegetables, and made money delivering fresh eggs, butter, cream, and vegetables (by Model T Ford) to regular customers in the Riverview section of Kankakee. Cleva began showing musical talent between the age of 2 and 3 by picking out tunes on the pump organ and piano. She graduated from St. Anne High School in 1934. She met Ambrose N. Dyon in 1935 when he asked her to play the piano for a dance that his baseball team was holding to raise money. They eloped to Crown Point, Indiana on March 18, 1936. His dad, Clarence, and her cousin Bernice Legris were their witnesses.

Their first child William Richard Dyon was born January 13, 1938 at St. Mary's Hospital in Kankakee while they were living on Guertin Street in St. Anne. Their second child Betty Jean Dyon was born in St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights on February 7, 1943 while they were living at 1 Illinois St. in Chicago Heights. She helped Ambrose with the study of math to achieve his goal of being a tool and die maker.

In 1949 they returned to St. Anne, and in 1952 they built their home on the same family farm on which she was born. She was a stay at home mom and was active in PTA at both the Aroma Park and Wichert schools. In 1962 she became an agent for the Royal Neighbors of America Insurance Company. She was promoted to supervisor and later elected to serve on the board of directors. She also served one term as chairman of this largely female operated fraternal life insurance company. She retired in 1979.

Cleva has been a partner with her husband in his repair business, his fox trapping, hunting, fishing, and gardening pursuits. She and Ambrose lived next door to her parents, Cleve and Edith Hubert from 1952 until Cleve died in 1968, when they bought the remainder of the property from her mother. Edith died in 1971. They then rented out the small house next door until they sold the farm and moved to the Westwood Oaks Retirement facility in 2002.

Cleva went to the Presbyterian Church in St. Anne as a child, and she and Ambrose attended there after their marriage as did their children. She has been very active in the Royal Neighbors of America organization for more than 50 years, providing music, leadership, and wisdom in her nurturing of this fraternal group that has meant a great deal to her. She is now serving on the Welcoming Committee at Westwood and she and Ambrose provide music on Friday afternoons at Happy Hour. She enjoys her friends and family, especially her five grandchildren and five great grandchildren who, unfortunately, all live out of state. She is a gracious lady who is poised and always has a smile and an encouraging word for everyone.