Barbara Kohnhorst, 71

Director of youth formation at St. Christopher's

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Barbara Katherine Whiteford Kohnhorst, 71, of Forest Park, died on Oct. 8, 2020 after a three-year battle with a rare form of uterine cancer. Born on May 4, 1949, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to Russell and Audrey Whiteford, she graduated from Central Bucks High School in 1967. She had a natural ability to connect with and inspire toddlers, teens, seniors, and her wide circle of friends. A smart, funny, generous and kind person, she was always ready to share her time and attention. She was living in Jacksonville, Florida when she met Michael Kohnhorst. They were married on May 10, 1975. 

In 1978, the family moved to Oak Park, where she focused on their children, Michele and Matthew, and their home life, while also working as a teacher's assistant at Julian Junior High (now Middle School).

She had a simple rule for her family — dinner at 6, no excuses — the one time of the day the family could be sure to be together.

In the early 1990s, they became members at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Oak Park, the beginning of an almost 30-year connection that transformed not just her life, but the lives of many area families. 

The rector of St. Christopher's, Rev. Paris Coffey, offered her a job as director of Children's Christian Formation, which she accepted with relish. Her role expanded to include St. Christopher's teenagers and over the years she planned, and sometimes accompanied, the teens on several summer pilgrimage trips to foreign countries. 

Her ministry was transformative, but her family remained her center. Daughter Michele underwent cancer treatments during these years. "She loved fiercely," Michele said.

Her lifelong pursuit of a healthy lifestyle led her to yoga and a 15-year career as a yoga instructor at various locations, including classes at St. Christopher's and Gottlieb Fitness Center in Melrose Park.

Her family and friends have years of memories and her spirit will live on. 

Barbara was preceded in death by her parents, her brother John and a son, Jason. Survivors include her husband, Michael; her daughter, Michele (Tom) and son Matthew (Sarah); her grandchildren Caitlin, Benjamin, Katherine, Audrey and John; and her brother, Russell (Catarina).

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which limits large gatherings, the family is planning a small private service. A larger celebration of Barbara's life will be scheduled when it is safe for family and friends to gather and remember how deeply she touched our lives.

 

Marcel Durot, 91

Executive with Gillette,
sailing enthusiast

Marcel C. Durot died on Oct. 7, 2020 in Oak Park. Born in Boston on Sept. 8, 1929, he grew up in Waban, Massachusetts. He graduated from Dartmouth College, class of 1952, and the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration from which he received a BA and an MBA. After two years active duty in the Navy in the Pacific aboard the USS Hooper Island, he joined the Gillette Safety Razor Company in Boston in the accounting department. He went to Boston College Law School at night for three years and received his law degree in 1960. In June of that year, Gillette transferred him to Montreal to become controller treasurer of Gillette of Canada. 

In 1965, he moved to Annecy, France, to become president-director general of Gillette France. He returned to the U.S. and, as corporate vice president was successfully the president of a number of Gillette divisions/subsidiaries including the Paper Mate Company, the Toiletries Division and the Toni Company. At Paper Mate, he was instrumental in the success of the Flair Pen. He left Gillette in 1977 and, after a three-year stint with Mattel, joined G.D. Searle & Co. in Chicago as vice president and general manager of Searle's nascent Consumer Products Division. During his tenure, Searle Consumer Products enjoyed the extremely successful launch of Equal tabletop sweetener. In 1985, he started a consulting business which led to assignments in Latin America, Europe, and Russia.

A member of the Young Presidents Organization, in 1967-69, he was president of the National Paraplegia Foundation. In 1980, he assisted a Dartmouth classmate, a quadriplegic, in persuading the U.N. to declare 1981 as the Year of Disabled Persons with its international logo of the wheelchair symbol. He served on the boards of the Hurricane Island (Maine) Outward Bound School, the Minnesota Outward Bound School, as well as the board of the National Outward Bound organization. A sailing enthusiast, he enjoyed cruising in Narragansett Bay, Nantucket Sound, and the Caribbean, and up the New England coast into Maine.

Marcel Durot leaves his widow, Charlotte Ann Durot; five children from a previous marriage, G. Georges Durot II (Ann), Jennifer C. Durot, Michael M. Durot (Anne), and Robert C. Durot (Kamy), and Andrew Durot; 13 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; two step-daughters, Paige Soulé (Ed Varga) and Christa Désir (Julio); and five step-grandchildren. 

In lieu of flowers, donations to Beacon Place Scholarship Fund, 603 S. McAlister Ave., Waukegan, IL 60085, www.beacon-place.org are appreciated.

 

Jean Ellzey, 93 

Taught music, loved singing, coaxed plants and people

Jean Mary Glarner Ellzey, 93, of Oak Park, died on Oct. 5, 2020 at Norwood Crossing in Chicago, surrounded by family. Born on Aug. 2, 1927, in St. Paul, Minnesota, one of three children, her parents, Doris Harrison Glarner and Milo Jacob Glarner, moved to Raymondville, Texas, where her father established a law practice and where Jean grew up. In 1944, she attended Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and transferred to Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, graduating in 1948, after which she taught music to young children. While at SMU, she met her husband, Charles (Chuck) Homer Ellzey whom she married in 1949. 

They had three children, Doris Jean (Dorie), Christine (Christi), and David Charles, and while her husband completed his PhD, serving in the United Methodist Church and teaching at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, she supported her him and raised their three children in Wilmette. After they moved to Naperville in 1971, at the age of 45, she attended graduate school at George Williams Community College, earning a degree in Counseling Psychology.

Following her divorce in 1977, she worked as a teacher and a counselor for 15 years at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills and DuPage Community College in Glen Ellyn, where she touched many lives through her course "Women in Transition" and as a counselor to many. She joined the DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church and sang in the choir. 

She retired in 1990 and in 2000 moved to Oak Park to be closer to her daughter, Dorie, son-in-law Marc Blesoff, and their three children. She joined Unity Temple and sang in the choir. In 2013, she moved to Brookdale Assisted Living Community, and in 2015 moved to Norwood Crossing senior living community in Chicago. The family appreciates all those who provided programs, meals, friendship, exercise, music and nursing care to her in both locations. 

In addition to raising her three children (and influencing her five grandchildren) to be creative, open-minded and concerned about the welfare of others, she loved the natural world. A devoted gardener, she soothingly coaxed her plants and personally thanked the birds for singing. She adored trees and loved Morton Arboretum. She delighted in the colors of nature and often basked in the sun to "soak in Vitamin D" and become renewed. She had music in her bones, singing to all of her kids, singing in church choirs, singing in musical programs, including the last year of her life, and was always game to gather around a piano. She was a social justice advocate who continued to add causes to her list. She passed on her favorite sayings and life lessons and sure-fire ways to squeeze the juices out of being alive. 

Preceded in death by her late sister, Carolyn Swanberg, Jean is survived by her sister, Kathryn Hemeyer; her children, Dorie Blesoff (Marc), Christine Ione, and David Ellzey; her grandchildren, Jamine, Evan and Mara Blesoff, Courtney Rile (Mike Barletta) and Devon Rile (Kristen Buchan); her great-granddaughters, Athina and Wrynn; her nieces and nephews, Lance Swanberg (Jamie), Cindy Schwing (Larry), Marshall Swanberg (Kathleen), Gary Hemeyer (Christina), Suzanne Hemeyer, Bryan Hemeyer (Chelle) and many loving  nieces- and nephews-in-law.  

The family will hold a virtual "Circle of Love" on Sunday, Oct. 25 at 11:30 a.m. If you are interested in details, email Info@davidellzey.com. There will also be a tribute in her memory set up at Morton Arboretum on a specially-selected tree. 

Donations are encouraged to any of these three favorite organizations: Heifer International (heifer.org), Doctors Without Borders (doctorswithoutborders.org), or Union of Concerned Scientists (ucsusa.org). 

Arrangements were handled by Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home.

 

Louise Cafasso 

Educator, counselor, volunteer and patron of the arts

Louise Cafasso, an Oak Park resident for over 70 years, died on Oct. 6, 2020. Born in Chicago, she earned her teaching degree from Chicago Teachers College and her master's degree in Administration and Guidance from DePaul University. She also completed post-graduate work in the field of Education at Northwestern and Northeastern universities. She was an assistant principal, counselor and teacher for the Chicago Public Schools for 33 years and was a national certified counselor. 

While teaching she was a member and board member of the Gregorians, an organization of Italian teachers and was elected into and held board positions in Delta Kappa Gamma. After retirement, she volunteered at St. Giles school as a reading tutor and CCD teacher as well as serving as lector at daily Mass for over 15 years. A member of the Retired Teachers Association and the Oak Park-River Forest Historical Society, she was a docent for the Hemingway Museum for five years and a member of the Nineteenth Century Club, where she served as vice president and program coordinator. 

For over 60 years, she had a great love of and was a patron of the Chicago arts, a constant supporter and attendee of the Chicago Symphony, Lyric Opera, Symphony of Oak Park-River Forest, Goodman Theater and Chicago Sinfonietta. She was also a board member of the American Opera Society. 

Louise was the wife of Dr. Fred Cafasso for 49 years; the mother of Elene Cafasso and Lynda Cafasso; the mother-in-law of Keith Mahnken and Stephen Conroy; the grandmother of Maria Elena Mahnken and David Fred Conroy and the late Joshua Conroy; the sister of Gus (Jean) Cortiletti and the late Mona (Maurice) Powers and the late Charles Cortiletti.

A Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated at St. Giles Church on Oct. 12, followed by interment at Queen of Heaven Mausoleum.

 

Joseph Giustino, 85

Korean War vet, worked for AT&T

Joseph J. Giustino, 85, of River Forest, died on Oct. 8, 2020. Born on Feb. 28, 1935, he was a veteran of the U.S. Army in Korea. He retired from AT&T in 1994 after almost 40 years.

Joe was the husband of the late Cathleen M. (nee Carlson); the father of Cathleen M. (Garth Stauffer), Joseph J. "JoeyJames," Jeffrey J. (Veronica), Amy R., and Jennifer A. (Richard) Moore; the grandfather of Christopher Parsons, Jeanny (Joe) Miller, J.C. and Jessie Corbridge, and Lilian, Emilia and Dylan Moore; the brother of Victor Giustino and Antoinette (Fred) Stanley and the late John (the late Dorothy), Evelyn (the late Bill) Kreutzer, and Michael (the late Grace) Giustino; and the uncle of many. 

Visitation was held on Tuesday, Oct. 13 at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home. Friends and family will meet at St. Luke Church, 7600 Lake St., River Forest on Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 10:45 a.m. for Mass beginning at 11 a.m., followed by interment at St. Joseph Cemetery.

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