OBITUARIES

Michel L. “Mitch” Spratford

Michel L. “Mitch” Spratford, 71, passed away peacefully at his home in Oswego 20 months after receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis. He was born in New Brunswick, NJ to an American G.I. (Larry) and his French war bride (Helen) on March 1, 1947. Mitch attended Franklin High School in Somerset, NJ where he met the love of his life, Olesja “Lesh” Kozar. He graduated from Amherst College in idyllic Western Massachusetts in 1969 with a BA in Math and from Rutgers University with a M.Ed. Mitch and Lesh married a week later before enjoying a 7-week honeymoon visiting family, friends, and sights in France, Switzerland, and Germany. He taught math and coached football throughout the ’70s at North Plainfield High School in NJ while they welcomed the birth of their two children, Eric M. and Melanie K. The family relocated to Aurora, IL, and he worked at Plano Molding Company for about 15 years, ultimately as VP-Marketing. He owned and ran Centerline Models in Bartlett, IL until his retirement.

After his diagnosis in 2017, he and Olesja downsized to the community of the Villas at Southbury in Oswego, IL, leaving wonderful friends (including the Buckleys and the Goldsmiths) in the subdivision of Sans Souci. He is survived by wife Olesja, son Eric (wife Becky and their children Samantha and Nathaniel), daughter Melanie, mother Helen, brother Roby, sister Catherine, and numerous nephews and nieces. His final written statement was “Lesh is the love of my life. Eric and Melanie are the pride of my life. Samantha and Nathaniel are the joy of my life.”

Throughout Mitch’s life he enjoyed travel, family, food/drink, and the enjoyment of all of the great things in life. He was devastated last year when Hurricane Irma ravaged one of his favorites places on earth, St. John, USVI. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Mitch’s name to the St. John Community Foundation, www.stjohncommunityfoundation.org.  A remembrance celebration will be held at a future date.

Michael Lee MacAfee

Michael Lee MacAfee (80), passed on June 22, 2018 at his place of residence in McHenry, Illinois.

Mike was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona; the middle son of Don H. MacAfee and Marian (Brooks) MacAfee; brother of Don G. MacAfee and Dan H. MacAfee.

He worked at his father’s business, Painters Warehouse, and served in the US Navy and reserves. He attended and graduated from ASU and Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management while working as Police Officer for the City of Phoenix. Later, he became a Special Agent for the Arizona State Attorney General’s Office, where he retired. After retirement, Mike lived in Moscow, ID; Albion and Endicott, WA; then moved to Barrington, IL (in late 2017) and finally, McHenry, IL in 2018. Mike is survived by his children: Bryan H. MacAfee, Lupita (MacAfee) Tokarski, and Michael S. MacAfee; and grandchildren: James MacAfee, Allison Tokarski, Emily Tokarski, and Anne Tokarski .

Mike will be fondly remembered for his dry sense of humor, his love of animals and the outdoors, and new-found tech toys. He was also the self-proclaimed “black sheep” of his family, a great storyteller, and the starter of endless unfinished projects. In his final weeks, he decided to donate his body to the Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois, for medical education and research. At his request, there will be no services/memorial. Memorial donations may be made to a favorite pet shelter/foundation, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – http://www.lls.org/ , or The MDS Foundation – https://www.mds-foundation.org/.

Gae Diane Conroy

Gae Diane Conroy, 66, of Elgin, IL passed away peacefully at her home surrounded by her family and beloved cat Lizzie, on Saturday, June 9th, 2018.  She was born onDecember 31st, 1951 in Fox River Grove, Illinois the daughter of George and Theresa Elfmann.  Gae worked a very successful and rewarding career holding various positions with Kane County Court Services with her retirement coming as Supervisor in 2011.  Throughout her 30+ year career she truly valued giving back to the community, specifically to Administer Justice, and helping those during very troubling times in their lives.  After her retirement she loved traveling, listening to live music (especially Elvis tributes and the Lenny’s), adopting her kitties, making many memories with her two granddaughters and children, playing cards, and spreading joy with her infectious laugh and sense of humor.  She was admired by all her former colleagues, friends, family, and loved ones for her strength, courage, and positive attitude; especially throughout all her health challenges during her remarkable life.

Survivors include her two children:  Amy D. (Jason) Koebel and Adam M. (Jenni) Conroy; and two granddaughters: Kendall and Blakely Koebel.

She was preceded in death by her parents, George and Theresa, and her siblings Charles and Charlene.

A Celebration of Life will be held at one of her favorite local establishments, Danny’s on Douglas, on Saturday, July 21st 2018 from 1:00pm-4:00pm in Elgin, Illinois. She would want all that come to gather in her honor laugh, eat, and share stories about the radiant life that she lived.

The family is very grateful to all the staff at Presence Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Elgin, Transitions Hospice, and Elements for all of their compassionate care.

Memorials may be made in her honor to the Anderson Animal Shelter in South Elgin or Administer Justice in Elgin.

Paul Sandahl

After months of battling a serious lung infection coupled with COPD, Paul Sandahl of New Lenox passed away on June 5th, 2018 at age 68. Preceded in death by his wife Joan. Survived by daughters Alice and Claire (Luke). Paul was an incredible father, fun-loving brother, a beloved uncle, and a dear friend to many. His spirit lives on with every harmony we sing, joke we tell, cherry coke we drink, Cubs game we watch, and horse race we bet on. Memorial service will be held at 1PM on Saturday, July 7th at Trinity Lutheran Church (508 N Cedar Rd. New, Lenox, IL 60451) followed by a come-and-go Celebration of Life open house at his home with food, beverages, music, and fireworks. Bring your best joke to tell, story to share, or song to sing!

Marina S. Valaitis

Marina S. Valaitis, 64, resident of Palos Hills, formerly of Cicero and Berwyn, passed away peacefully on Thursday, April 19, 2018 after a gutsy two- year struggle with pancreatic cancer.

She spent her decades-long career in customer service solving problems for and building relationships with customers for Royal, Willamette, Weyerhaeuser, and most recently International Paper.

Admired by friends, colleagues, and family for her positive attitude and frankness during her illness, Marina was cherished by all for her kindness, loyalty, and fierce independence.

She is survived and beloved by her sister Kristina (Valaitis), brothers Joseph and Charles; sisters-in-law Nijole and Susan (Valaitis); nieces Laura (Levato), Elizabeth (Valaitis), Sara (Valaitis), and Kim (Tillery); nephew Stephen (Valaitis); nephew in-law Anthony Levato; grandnieces Kasey (Sorbers) and Kaitlyn (Valaitis), Faithana (Levato); and Allison and Emily (Tillery); and grandnephews Adriano (Levato), Lincoln (Levato) and Jesse (Tillery), and her many friends..

The family is very grateful to all at Rush Hospital Cancer Center, Journey Care hospice, and Warren Barr Lincoln Park for their compassionate care.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network – https://www.pancan.org/ or Journey Care https://journeycare.org.

Memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 12 at the St. Casimir’s Cemetery Chapel; 4401 W 111th St, Chicago, IL 60655. Interment private.

The family welcomes friends and colleagues to a reception following the service to celebrate Marina’s life.  Location details to be confirmed at the service.

Gregory J. Baron

Gregory J. Baron, 68, formerly of Dundee, passed away at home on March 28, 2018. He was born on September 29, 1949 in Evanston, the son of Walter and Wanda. He is survived by his beloved wife of 47 years, Ellen, brother David and Geoff, sons Scott (wife Terri and sons Christopher and George) and son Mark (wife Dena).

Greg took great pride in his life’s work in owning and operating a plastics manufacturer in Dundee, and later Cary.  Greg retired in 2005 and split his time living in California and Chicago. Early retirement allowed Greg to do his favorite things- ride motorcycles across the country (he took particular pride in his 1947 Indian Chief), travel the world with his wife, and spend time with his family. He possessed natural talents rare in people these days, with the ability to fix anything.  Mostly he will be remembered for having a heart of gold.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St Jude’s Children’s Hospital, one of his favorite charities due to having survived a rare childhood illness. Alternatively, donations can also be made to the Chicago-based Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation.

Jessie Flinchum

Jessie is number 10 of 11 children born to Charles and Jessie Miller on November 15,1928. She has one biological son and many nieces and nephews. She is a Grandmother of 4 and Great Grandmother also. She was a wonderful companion to LeRoy Flinchum and had a long enduring relationship with her niece Rosemargaret and Jessies baby sister Ruth Brumwell. Jessie loved her family dearly.
As a lifelong friend since 1965, Betty Tharp loved and cared for Jessie. They laughed, worked, and went everywhere together and, oh yes ….. played cards endlessly.
Jessie worked at DeMars Resturant for 30 years, Robertson Transformer, and Miller Potato Factory to name a few.
Jessie transitioned peacefully at home, with friends, by her side on March 19, 2018. Her visitation will be at 12:30 and Service at 1:00pm, at CLC Church at 2552 135th St. in Blue Island IL. on Thursday, March 29,2018.

Claire Shroba Morris

Claire Shroba Morris, 23, of Chicago, Illinois, on Tuesday February 13, 2018.

Claire was born April 27, 1997, the cherished daughter of Jane Shroba and David S. Morris, beloved sister of Talia. Survived by her uncle Alan Morris (Denise); aunt Melinda Varkel (Benny), cousins Eric Morris (Alyssa Schwartz), Andrew Morris (Madelyn), Lizzie Varkel, and her very special Auntie Kay and Uncle Jerry. Preceded in death by her paternal grandparents, Harold and Rebecca Morris, and her beloved maternal grandmother Gertrude “GaGa” Shroba. Claire always had a beautiful smile, and brought joy to all those around her. A Memorial Service celebrating her life will be held on Monday, February 19, 2018, at 11:00 a.m., at Misericordia Home, 6300 N. Ridge Ave. Chicago, IL, in the Lois Gates Courtyard Inn. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Claire’s name may be made to Misericordia.

Margaret ‘Meg’ Lauer

Margaret ‘Meg’ Lauer, age not enough, died on January 24th, 2018 after a long illness. Margaret was born to Bill and Harriet Kelly, the youngest of five. Peggy grew up in Michigan City, IN at Duneland Beach’s Stop 35 on her beloved Lake Michigan. She moved to Chicago to attend Loyola, where she changed her name to Meg, met the very best of people, and where her grandfather helped introduced her to the love of her life, Mark Lauer, whom she married in 1982. Meg and Mark had an incredible life together full of love and adventure-moving all over the country, raising their two daughters Erin and Maureen in Chicago, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle, Omaha and Dobbs Ferry, NY before moving home to Chicago. She was blessed to make life-long friends in each place.

Meg was non stop. In her 59 years, she earned a BA and MBA from Loyola Chicago, worked in the insurance sector, and made the world a better place, volunteering with organizations like the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, the Hudson River Museum, After School Matters, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Dobbs Ferry PTSA, in addition to being elected twice to the Dobbs Ferry Board of Education. She worked as an election inspector in New York, and did we mention she was on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?

Even with all of that, her greatest joy was being a mom. She raised two amazing daughters, Erin and Maureen, that she bragged about to everyone. Meg raised them to share in her passions: volunteering, Chicago Cubs baseball, reading by the pool, traveling the world, improving the education system, and when they were old enough, great drinks. Erin and Maureen couldn’t have asked for a better mom.

Those that had the joy to know her miss her dearly. She is survived by her beloved family: Mark, Erin, and Maureen (Tom Chase). In addition, her brother Bill Kelly (Mary Gross) and sisters Kathy Kelly and Ilene Kelly (Randy Wendt) survive her; she was preceded in death by her parents and her sister Mary. She is also remembered fondly by her many brothers and sisters in law, nieces, nephews and friends the world over.

Help us to commemorate Meg’s life by giving to two causes close to her heart: the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, http://rizzo44.com/donate/,  and the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry at South Presbyterian Church, https://dobbsferrypantry.org/donations/ .

Visitation held Wednesday, January 31, 2018, 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Old St. Patrick’s Church, 700 West Adams, Chicago, IL 60661.  Memorial Mass Thursday, February 1st at 10:00 a.m. A Memorial Service & Reception will also follow in Dobbs Ferry, New York in February.

Betty Jane Engler

Services private.

Gail L. Vandover

Services will be announced.

Lillian Johnson

Services private.

Kevin Neal Nelson

Services pending.