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Thursday, April 23, 2009

In loving memory of Kathy Kyrouac

On Wednesday, April 22, 2009, the library staff received news we had long dreaded but hoped would never come: that our colleague and friend, Kathy Kyrouac, had passed away after a courageous struggle against cancer. Kathy joined the library staff in March of 2000, a much-needed computer science professional who took over the management of the Library's Web site - a "Webmaster."

But to describe Kathy's role strictly by her job title would do her a tremendous disservice. She was so involved in Library committees and activities, as well as an active resident of the Des Plaines community. It's difficult to imagine how she did it all while also raising two daughters, along with her husband Dave, and still found time for eating and sleeping! Kathy was one of our most devoted participants in the Relay for Life, raising money for cancer research and treatment while raising awareness of healthy lifestyle choices. She was part of our Relay team, the "Book Babes," for the last six years, even after her own diagnosis with cancer. That kind of selfless hard work defines much of who Kathy was to us here at the library.

Within the library, Kathy not only played a crucial role in keeping our Web site up-to-date and user friendly, she also served on the committee to redesign the Web site as well as our staff intranet. She stayed on top of her field by taking classes over at Oakton and participating in educational workshops, wanting to know what was new and innovative. Kathy was a founding member of our "Green Team" and a gracious volunteer at events like "Do the Dewey," our Centennial kick-off, croquet tournament and carnival. I marveled at how, when a call was made for volunteers, she not only always responded but was usually amongst the very first.

On a lighter note, she was also one of the stars of our super-popular book cart drill team, "The Cart Wheels." She served as co-captain of the team, along with her very dear friend, Captain Gail Bradley. As I said to Gail today, I can't think of Gail without Kathy, or Kathy without Gail. In my mind, they are peanut butter and chocolate - wonderful on their own, but just perfect together. Everyone here at DPPL is so grateful to Gail, who became our official "Kathy liaison" over the last few months, making numerous hospital visits and keeping us informed.

Kathy used her Web design skills to help local organizations such as the Self-Help Closet and Pantry and the Maine West Dollars for Scholars. While visiting with her family a few days ago, her husband told me she also started a neighborhood group that prepared meals for families coping with illness. Not at all surprising, since Kathy radiated generosity and a strong sense of belonging to the community.

There are no words that can adequately express the loss we are feeling. The video up above is a simple attempt at sharing Kathy's quiet grace and wonderful sense of humor with the world, a way to let her and her family know that we love her and appreciate her. Kathy would probably say she didn't understand all the fuss and wouldn't want us to make a big deal out of it, and yet I feel it's important for all to know how much she accomplished in her career, in her family life and in her community. To live life fully, sharing of yourself every day, gives glory to God and makes you part of "the greatest story ever told." Thank you, Kathy, for including us in your story.

Read the obituary in the Daily Herald


  1. Karen, Thank you so much for putting this beautiful tribute together! I think that we will all treasure it.

  2. Her kind presence at the library will be much missed. My condolences to her family.

  3. Thank you for making this wonderful video of Kathy. I have been friends with her since 3rd grade, and you have really captured the essence of the truly amazing person that she was. I am happy that she was surrounded by such great people at work. Kathy will be missed.

  4. The collection of pictures is so wonderful - it shows how big a part Kathy was of the "play" part of the library! Thanks for putting this together. It really made me smile in memory of her.

  5. This is a beautiful tribute to my sister. I thank you all so very much.
    Nancy Garcia

  6. Thank you for putting this video together for all to see. I have been friends with Kathy since high school, but unfortunately we only got the chance to see each other maybe once or twice a year. There were things in the video that I never knew about her, but I did know she loved her work and co-workers. I can certainly see why now! God bless you all!

  7. I am so sorry to hear the news about Kathy. She was such a thoughtful person and always a pleasure to work with. I wish her family strength in getting through these difficult times.

  8. We will miss Kathy so much at the Relay for Life this year. She was always out there walking, bringing great props for the theme laps, and just in general making it all more fun for all of us on the Book Babes team. Her husband Dave was such a good sport during the Queen of the Relay lap, her daughters often helped us set up our campsite, and last year even her little dog Lucy got into the spirit of the relay. She set an example for me that's tough to follow. Karen - Thanks so much for this tribute to Kathy.


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