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Kathleen Ann Turnquist
(09-09-1957 - 03-28-2017)

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Kathleen Ann Turnquist, age 59, passed away Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at JourneyCare Hospice facility in Barrington, IL. surrounded by family and friends following a courageous six-month battle with cancer. She was born September 19, 1957 in Berwyn, Ill. to Dorothy Spomer Larson and Gustaf L. Larson. Kathy was a 1975 graduate of Morton East High school in Cicero, Ill. From the time she was a little girl she enjoyed “playing teacher” with her friends and especially her brother Ken. Ken’s special needs prompted Kathy to become involved in activates to help developmentally disabled youth and young adults. These included serving as a Sunday School teacher and a vacation Bible school teacher for these young people. She was also a member of a club which taught them social graces and how to attend formal events. In high school Kathy continued her Girl Scout involvement by serving in the Cadet program. She was regularly on the honor roll and a member of the National Honor Society. During her senior year, she was a contestant in the Cicero Young Junior Miss Contest. Kathy furthered her education after high school by attended MacMurray College. It was an institution she chose because of the school’s strong special educational focus for teachers. Kathy’s father passed away when she was only fourteen years old, but her post high school education was made possible by several scholarships, including the first ever offered by the Cicero American Legion Post No. 96. She also worked various part-time jobs during college, and graduated with honors in only 3 ½ years. After teaching for a semester at Winchester Elementary School in Winchester C.U.S.D. No. 1, Kathy came to School District U-46 in the fall of 1979. She first taught at Hanover Countryside Elementary School in Streamwood, Ill. As a special education teacher, her classroom was regularly relocated and she also taught at Coleman, Heritage, and Ridge Circle elementary schools. She later transferred to regular education and taught at Eastview Elementary School, Centennial Elementary School, Canton Middle School and finally at Lowrie Elementary School. During her teaching career, she was a long-time building representative for the Elgin Teachers Association. She also served on the district’s Instructional Council and numerous other committees. Kathy went on to earn a Master’s degree in Reading from Northeastern Illinois University in 1983 and more than 40 additional hours of graduate work beyond that. During the summer of 1983 Kathy attended an Illinois Education Association Summer Leadership Academy at Illinois State University in Normal, Ill. where she met her husband Jerry who was also a School District U-46 teacher. The two were married in December 1984. 1987 Kathy suffered acute liver failure and laid in a coma for three days. The shortage of an available organs for a transplant drew the attention of the media and many people knew about her plight before she finally received a lifesaving liver donation. Kathy would go on the become an advocate for organ donation and spoke to driver education classes about organ donation. She also appeared in an Illinois Secretary of State pamphlet and regularly walked in the American Liver Foundation walk. In 2013, she received a second liver transplant. Because of the damage done to her kidneys by her earlier anti-rejection drugs, she also received a kidney. Both came with little time to spare following an extended wait in a hospital bed in her home. Kathy was most proud of her sons Dennis, Eric and husband Jerry and their successes led to her greatest joys. She especially enjoyed spending time with her husband and his historical pursuits. Kathy appeared in “Who’s Who Among American Teachers.” In 1985, Kathy was appointed by the Elgin City Council to serve on the city’s Sesquicentennial Committee. In 1992, she was among the nominees for the Elgin Junior Woman’s Club “Outstanding Young Woman of Elgin” award. She was recognized again 1995 when she was named as an Education Foundation Grant recipient by the Elgin Chapter of the American Association of University Women. Kathy is remembered fondly by numerous students whose lives she impacted over her teaching career. She is also survived by her husband Jerry, her sons Dennis and Eric of Elgin, a brother Kenneth Larson of Aurora, Ill and many close friends. A visitation will be held at Laird Funeral home at 310 S. State St. in Elgin on Sunday, April 2, 2017 from 3 PM to 8 PM. A memorial service will be held at First Congregational Church 256 E. Chicago Street Elgin at on Monday, April 3, 2017 at 11 AM followed by light refreshments in the church’s Fellowship Hall. Burial will be private at Bluff City Cemetery in Elgin. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Elementary School Library Fund of the School District U-46 Foundation or the Bethesda Lutheran Communities which provides services and homes to people with developmental disabilities. Laird Funeral Home is assisting the family. For information call 847-741-8800 or www.lairdfamilyfuneralservices.com. 

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