Catherine Willey

Date of Birth

Jan 26,1954

Date of Death

Jul 09,2006

CATHERINE WILLEY, Age 52 of Elburn, passed away unexpectedly Sunday morning, July 9, 2006 at Delnor Community Hospital, Geneva, where she was taken following a sudden collapse, Saturday. BORN / EARLY YEARSShe was born January 26, 1954 in Chicago, IL, the daughter of Kenneth and Shirley (Lehman) Whitmer. Through her early years, the family lived in Villa Park. Later settling near South Elgin, Cathy attended high school in St. Charles where she graduated in just three years. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, IA where she met Jim Willey in a chemistry study group. It was a formula for romance and their relationship grew through the next two years until 1973 when Jim left for Southern Illinois University to finish his degree. Jim would later recall, they soon discovered they could not live without each other! MARRIAGE & FAMILYThey graduated from separate colleges in the spring of 1975 and were wed on August 23rd. at the Geneva United Methodist Church. Cathy became a research assistant at the University of Illinois School of Pharmacy and Jim entered dental school. They made their home just off campus in a two room apartment which they pieced together with six gallons of spackle, a ton of sweat equity and Cathy’s magic touch. As the daughter of a commercial home builder, Cathy learned a few tricks of the trade and added her own natural gifts to make every place they lived, a warm and inviting home. Through the years, she spent many hours gardening and handcrafting everything from stained glass windows to quilts and needlepoint works of art that adorn the homes of many friends and family members. About the time Jim graduated, Cathy had job offers from both Amoco and Fermi Lab. She decided on a career in petro-chemicals and, with the security of her corporate job, Jim dared to launch his private practice. It was a partnership that became the paradigm of their lives as love and sacrifice built success and security. Cathy and Jim moved to Elburn in 1979 and on August 14, 1983, they were blessed with twin boys – Andrew and David. They were the pride and joy of Cathy’s life. Sharing the intellectual gifts of both their parents, the twins were child prodigies whom Cathy nurtured with devotion and discipline. In their lives, as in Jim’s, Cathy was the wind beneath their wings and when they soared, her quiet spirit took flight as well. This was never more true than when Jim graduated with his MBA and later, David and Andrew became Eagle Scouts and went on to graduate from Marmion Academy with honors. As Jim became mayor of Elburn, the deeply private Cathy struggled with their "life in a fish bowl" . True to her devotion, however, she was always staunchly behind him, making sure Jim knew that his heart as well as his work, had her full support. On her own time, the private life of Cathy Willey found fulfillment in helping wild animals back to health at the Fox Valley Wildlife Center located in the Elburn Forest Preserve. Cathy loved all kinds of animals, but none had a greater place in her life than her faithful Chocolate Lab, Shadow. The two were inseparable companions and shared a sixth-sense level of communication that was a great source of comfort to them both. In 2000, Cathy suffered a minor stroke. It would be two years before they discovered that her stroke and the advanced osteoporosis she was experiencing were early warning signs of multiple myeloma. In February of 2003 she received a stem cell transplant that helped her achieve a partial remission and offered hope for a few more years. Through it all, Cathy remained stoically private about her battle with cancer. Though she was part of an unacknowledged "cancer cluster" at her workplace, she refused to discuss it with family or friends until recently, when plans were released to build a school near her office building. Her story was about to became part of an activist effort to stop the building of the school, when Cathy’s life was cut short. Knowing they would never grow old together, Jim and Cathy accelerated their plans to travel and enjoyed several trips including her favorite place, Alaska, as well as Hawaii. Her health was strong through them all. They had just returned from riding the trains through the Canadian Rockies, when tragedy struck in the form of a brain hemorrhage, Friday, July 8, 2006. Though its origin is yet unknown, the outcome was a sudden coma that ended her life in a matter of hours. Though the light of her life is gone from sight, the warmth of her love and her vision for the future are alive and well in the hearts of her loved ones and friends.Cathy was always uncomfortable with Jim’s involvement in local politics, butShe still let jim pursue his interests for the good of the community.SURVIVORS In addition to her husband, Dr. James L. Willey, She leaves their two sons, Andrew and David, all of Elburn;Four brothers and sisters:Cindy (William) Griswold of Appleton, WICharles (Serap) Whitmer of North Bend, WA, Carol (Jim Kinslow) Foster of Ramona, CA,Joseph (Kim) Whitmer of Cedar Lake, INHer mother-in-law, Dorothy Willey of Batavia, IL, One brother-in-law and one sister-in-law::Larry (Jo) Willey of Elburn, ILJulie (John) Shepherd of Aurora, ILeleven nieces and nephews Cindy’s: Joshua, Vicky and Holly Charles’: Audrey, Catherine and Caroline;Joe’s: Michael and Katelyn Julie’s : Jeremy and Jordan Jo’s: Nic(Note to media: the names Joe and Jo above are spelled correctly for those individuals.)PRECEDED She is preceded by her parents, Kenneth H. Whitmer and Shirley B. Anderson, Her step father Duane "Andy" Anderson,And her father in law, Elwood J. Willey.VISITATION / FUNERAL A memorial visitation will be held Wednesday, July 12, 2006 from 3-6pm, followed by a memorial service at 6:30 pm, both to be held at Fisherman’s Inn, corner of Rt. 47 and Main Street Road. The Reverend Steven Good, family friend and pastor of the United Methodist Church, Sugar Grove, will officiate. Arrangements entrusted to Conley Funeral Home, Elburn. For information, please call 1-800-8-CONLEY or visit An open memorial has been established in Cathy’s name. Checks may be made to the Cathy Willey Memorial and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119. Tributes and memories may also be forwarded to the family at the same address or through her obituary at

Memorial visitation will be held Wednesday, July 12, 2006 at Fisherman’s Inn, corner of Rt. 47 and Main Street Road, from 3-6pm with a memorial service to begin at 6:30pm.

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