Kathleen Henson, 69, of Chicago, Illinois, passed away on Friday, Dec. 26 after an acute heart attack, ending a life devoted to exploring the world and challenging conventional wisdom.
A visitation and memorial service to commemorate her life will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 3, at Donnellan Family Funeral Home, 10045 Skokie Blvd. at Old Orchard Rd., Skokie, Illinois.
Kathleen was born May 7, 1945, in Merrill, Wisconsin. She graduated from Merrill High School in 1963 and received a B.A. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1967.
She was a natural contrarian who questioned authority and sought to triumph over it. She was unusually kind and generous to all, and accepting of non-conformists, especially those in need. She worked for 13 years as a social worker and supervisor for the Department of Public Aid in Chicago.
Kathleen married David Pelzer in 1980 and moved to Madison, then Milwaukee, and gave birth to two loving sons, Jeremy and Justin Pelzer. The family then moved to Evanston, Illinois, where Kathleen lived for 27 years. She is survived by her ex-husband David; her sons; her daughter-in-law Lavida Rose Pelzer; her sisters Christine Knauer, Linda Forney, Carol Hintz and Betty Gilroy; her brothers John Henson and Richard Henson; and many loving nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents Royal and Marie Henson, and her brother Robert Henson.
Family was paramount to her, and she devoted the last half of her life to her sons. Kathleen’s home was always open to her children’s friends, who cherish the memories of her welcoming smile. A great lover of books, she started and ran a popular bookstore at Dawes Elementary School in Evanston.
Kathleen fought through many hardships in her life, including complications from childhood diabetes. Her strongest asset was her mind – always insightful, questioning and curious. She loved the forests of her native Wisconsin, and had a lifelong passion for astronomy, devouring any and all information that could help her unravel the mysteries of the universe. She owned and used a telescope to study the night sky, and later in life volunteered to be a sky watcher for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to the Diabetes Research and Education Foundation (at Diabetesaction.org or P.O. Box 34635, Bethesda, MD 20827) or to The Planetary Society (at Planetary.org or 85 South Grand Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105). Please use the following address in the online form so the family will receive acknowledgements: Jeremy Pelzer, 392 Forest St. #E Columbus, OH 43206. Info: 847-675-1990 or www.donnellanfuneral.com.