KATHLEEN ANN CALDWELL
Kathleen Ann Caldwell, 65, Denver, passed away suddenly on Tuesday evening, March 3, 2020, at Franciscan East Hospital, Lafayette, Indiana.
Born November 18, 1954, in Joliet, Illinois, she was the beloved daughter and youngest child of John Robert “Jack” Caldwell and Lillie Marie McKendry-Caldwell. Her dad was a WWII Veteran and big-rig driver for Ruan Trucking and her mom moonlit from homemaking as a waitress, high school lunch lady, and later became a self-proclaimed semi-professional bingo player with the local Catholic Church. She is preceded in death by her mother, father and devoted sister, Ginger Caldwell-Brassal. To Kathy, they hung the moon and were the apotome of everything good about the world. If her love could have saved them, they would have lived forever.
The family moved around and lived in California for a short time, but eventually moved back to Illinois. While attending Lockport West High School, later known as Romeoville High School, Kathy became a member of the Romeoville Juliets Marching Group and performed in parades and at school functions. She graduated in 1972 and worked her way up at Jewel-Osco starting as a bagger- the first girl bagger at that time. In her teens and twenties, she enjoyed traveling back to California with loved ones, meeting “Charles In Charge’s,” Scott Bayo, flirting on the CB radio as her alter ego, “Kitty Kat,” and riding around in convertibles with friends – a past time which eventually earned her a near-death experience, a conviction for seatbelt use, and a prominent scar across her forehead. She had dreams of attending college to be an interior designer, but life had different plans for Kathy. She had a higher calling to the likes of which she herself didn’t yet know the extent.
Kathy became the devoted wife to her husband and mother to her three children, two of which, Amy and Johnny B, have tremendous special needs. She zealously served as a full-time at-home caregiver until she was nearly 60 years old.
There wasn't a soul on the Earth that could have tried harder, sacrificed more or loved her children more than Kathy.
She volunteered regularly, helping out with fundraising functions for United Cerebral Palsy Foundation and was a dedicated advocate for the human rights and care of all children with special needs. Somehow, she found time to be an active parent to her daughter Melissa, helping out as a PTA mother, room mom, seamstress of all Halloween costumes, anti-bullying activist, tear-wiper and butterfly-kisser. She made sure Melissa wanted for nothing and lived as normal a life as possible despite the hardships with Amy and Johnny B. In 1994, she was honored by the Crystal Lawns Parent Teacher Association at the Joliet Area Council’s Founder’s Day Banquet with a Distinguished Service Scroll which recognized for her outstanding commitment, leadership, and achievements both at the school and at home which made a contribution to the Illinois PTA Scholarship Fund in her name.
For many years before retiring she was a custodian for Plainfield School system. It was a hard job and it often left her sore, but she was committed and was adored the teachers and students. After retirement, she began working with her daughter Melissa to bring her dream of owning her own business to life. Kathy put everything she had into her custom-sewing and embroidery company, Sew In Love. It was a literal labor of love. She specialized in providing low-cost custom mementos to memorialize loved ones no longer with us. Through her business, she was able to bring joy and closure to hundreds of individuals.
Each item she made, she gave more than she received, and in each item, there was a piece of who she was.
After being swept off her feet by a new, amazing, life-completing love in 2013, she sold her home in Joliet, Illinois moving to Denver, Indiana to build a future with him and continue to grow her business. Ron, a community-minded 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Freemason, and Master Builder-Project Manager helped to re-ignite Kathy’s long-time passion for public service. She volunteered at a local thrift store that helped the homeless, she was an active member of her sorority, the Sigma Phi Gamma, Alpha Mu chapter and the Denver Lions Club. She planned and organized an entire parade for Denver Days and was beside her beloved at every function where he needed a hand in the kitchen – doing less helping and a more tasting, of course!
Despite knowing he’d have to do all the cooking for the rest of their lives, Ron made it official and proposed to Kathy on Christmas Day of 2019.
Kathy loved spending time with her grandchildren, traveling, boating on Mississinewa Reservoir, attending car shows where she and Ron showed off their classic-cars, dream-house window-shopping with her daughter Melissa and visiting Amy and Johnny weekly at their group home out of state. Although she was not blessed with a green thumb, she often tried to grow a garden. She loved spending time outdoors photographing the hummingbirds that came to visit her flowers. She loved sitting by the campfire or sinking into the hot tub on quiet, starry nights. When she still could, she loved to dance. She loved country music and the music of her dad’s era. She loved long Island ice teas and sangria; wedding receptions; animals; the ocean; falling asleep every in front of every TV show she promised she’d stay awake to watch; and sleeping in the bed with her three babies, holding them tight and kissing them like it was the last time every time — even as adults.
She leaves behind a legacy of love and selflessness that everyday folks can’t begin to fathom. The more the community of those who loved her unites in her passing, the more we realize just how much our soft-spoken, wife, mother, grandma, auntie, and friend was secretly shielding her angel wings from being seen. Rest in Peace Kathy Broz. We love you so much.
Survivors include her three children, Amy Marie McGown, Joliet, IL; Melissa Broz, Nashville, TN; and John “Johnny B.” Broz, Joliet, IL; fiancé, Ron Rylands, Denver, IN, along with his seven children, Joshua Lee Rylands, Jeremy Michael Rylands, Jared Daniel Rylands, Johnathon William Rylands, Justin Patrick Rylands, Jessica Ann Rylands-Bex, and Ronald William “Buddy” Rylands, Jr.; fifteen Ryland’s family grandchildren, Julia, Jackie, Shane, Mason, Peyton, Haley, Axlyn, Adrian, Lilly, Jaxon, Rosie, Phinlee, Jordan, Aubrie, and Reece; two dogs, Oscar and Maya, Grand Cat, Tia; nieces and nephews, Julie Brassal, Jill Brassal, Johnny Brassal, and all of their beautiful extended family to whom Kathy was both a Great and Great-Great Aunt to; her ex-husband and father of her children, John Francis Broz, Adamsville, TN; and her step-children, Shawn Kuhl and Jennifer Saweikis, though separated by distance and marriage, she held them and step-grandchildren dear.
In addition to being welcomed into the open arms of her mother, father, and sister in Heaven, she was looking forward to seeing her sweet granddaughter, Brianna Fern Rylands, Odie Broz, her faithful bichon-terrier mix of almost 18 years, and Gizmo “Gizzy” Rylands, her adoptive step-dog, a full-blooded Pekinese with an underbite that could melt your heart.
Visitation will be from 4-7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at McClain Funeral Home. A sorority service and funeral will begin at 7:00 p.m. with Pastor Eric McCoy officiating.
Cremains Burial will be held at Resurrection Cemetery, Romeoville, Illinois on Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 11am where she will be laid to rest in the arms of her father and next to her mother. Services will be followed by an open house for all family and friends in Plainfield, Illinois from 12 noon-4pm.
In memory of Kathy's life, we ask that in lieu of flowers, a contribution to Hometown Federal Credit Union, Peru, IN (765-472-7600) to the special account set up under Ron Rylands to help with the continued care of Kathy's special needs children, Amy and Johnny B. You may also make a GoFundMe donation at http://bit.ly/KathysKids
The funds will help with the items their group home doesn't supply appropriately and help with transportation cost for visitations from their home in Joliet, IL to the family’s homes in Denver, IN and Nashville, TN.
McClain Funeral Home, Denver, Indiana, has been entrusted with arrangements. The online guestbook can be signed at www.mcclainfh.com.
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