Sara Kelly, 61, died on Saturday at her home in Wauconda.
A Wauconda resident since 1979, Sara was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer six months after she lost her husband of 36 years, Paul, who drowned in October 2010.
Despite such hardship, Sara remained a strong-willed optimist, enduring difficult surgeries and treatments in her final years with bravery and grace. In doing so she kept a relentless disease at bay long enough to add a handful of wonderful memories to an already rich life. A spirited 60th birthday party; Road trips to Michigan and Maine; A week of seafood and sun by the ocean; The marriage of her only son, John, who was at her side with his wife, Katrina, when she died.
Sara Charlotte Connor was born on Nov. 8, 1951 in Chicago to Daniel and Joyce Connor. Known as "Cookie" in her early years, Sara graduated Evanston Township High School in 1969. In her freshman year at Eastern Illinois University she met the love of her life, Paul, who was just back from serving in Vietnam. Together they switched schools, enrolling at the University of Southern Illinois in Carbondale, where they would return each summer for decades to camp on the shore of Little Grassy Lake.
Professionally, Sara spent more than 25 years as a life insurance underwriter and manager, working for Washington National Insurance, Federal Kemper Life Assurance, Chase Insurance, and, most recently, Allstate Insurance.
Sara was a passionate home decorator and gardener. The Kelly's lived in a brown-shingled house with a small yard, which Sara transformed over the years into a sanctuary of elegant comfort. In their later years, Paul and Sara were especially known around the neighborhood for walking their popular pug, Murphy.
Sara is survived by her son, John (Katrina); brother, Chuck (Laura)Connor; half-brother Peter Connor; brothers-in-law David Kelly, Sean (Rose) Kelly; sisters-in-law Lauren (Bud) Skuba, Anne (Daniel) Malmed, Josie Kelly, and many nephews and nieces. She was preceded in death by her husband, Paul, and her parents, Daniel and Joyce Connor.
Visitation will be Thursday, February 7, 2013 from 4:00 PM until 8:00 PM at Kisselburg-Wauconda Funeral Home, 235 N. Main St., Wauconda. Funeral services will be held on Friday, February 8, 2013 at 11:00 AM at the funeral home. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers, please help keep Wauconda's downtown beautiful with a small donation to Main Street Attraction, 201 S. Main St., Wauconda.