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Leona Mary DeHaan Obituary

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With great sadness, we share the loss of our beloved mother, Lee DeHaan on April 18th, in Wheaton Illinois.

Lee was born on Oct 10, 1940, in Chicago to Eunice and James Machtemes and was a loving oldest sister to Eunice, Donna, Maureen, Chris, Jim, and Mary. She graduated from Mother of Sorrows High School in 1958 and worked at Nelson’s. She married Tom (Thomas H) Brown in 1961. Lee and Tom met when Tom’s Dad met Lee at Nelson’s and thought they would be a good match. Starting in 1963, Lee’s biggest wish, to have children / be a mom, was fulfilled with the arrival of Laurie, Kathy, Lisa and Tom.

Lee raised her children with unconditional love and support as well as consistent boundaries: ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.’ One of Lee’s favorite sayings was ‘There are only two lasting things we can hope to give our children: One is roots. The other is wings.’ Her kids teased her for this, but as adults, now fully appreciate its true meaning. When they were little, she made their clothes and spectacular birthday cakes. Her house was filled with music, often with Lee singing along, and her garden bloomed with beautiful flowers.

When Tom started first grade, Lee began nursing school at St. Xavier, attending classes while the kids were at school and studying after they went to bed. The sound of the typewriter often lulled them to sleep. ‘The smartest kid in 8th grade’ according to her longtime friend Den, she got straight A’s while juggling full time college and motherhood. After graduating in 1979, she began her nursing career at LaGrange Memorial Hospital. She quickly moved into nursing management, eventually running three floors. Lee was instrumental in starting one of the first Hospice units in the Chicago area. In 1992, she joined Palos Hospital where she was a pioneer in the field of nursing informatics. Lee had a successful career and made lifelong friends. She was delighted to retire in 2006, allowing more time for her many interests: forest preserve walks with her dog Bailey, gardening, reading, trips to the Chicago Symphony, art museums, musicals, theater, and travel.

In 1989, Lee remarried. Abel DeHaan was the love of her life. Lee and Abel enjoyed four and a half blissful years together, watching sunsets, making bonfires in Door County, and kissing at red lights, until Abel’s untimely passing in 1993.

Family was everything for Lee. In 1993, Lee became ‘Grammy’ with the birth of her first grandchild. Her primary delight became spending time with her beloved grandchildren: Kelley, Matt, Emily, Max, Andy, William, Sam, Alex, and Zach. Each grandchild loved their one-on-one time and Grammy camp. Favorite activities included: art projects, Lego, playgrounds, movies, dance performances, baseball games, concerts, ice cream, and even tubing!

Most of all though, Lee valued and prioritized the many close relationships she nurtured throughout her life. Her sisters and her childhood friend Therese were constant companions. Lee was a devoted caregiver during her mother’s final decades, collaborating with her sisters to ensure that their mom could safely stay at home. Lee’s warmth, positivity, intellect and empathy drew others to her. So many people who know her felt they had a ‘special relationship’ with her because she truly cared.

After a stroke paralyzed her right side, Lee’s determination, optimism, work ethic and ingenuity enabled her to live independently in Lemont for years before moving to an apartment at Westbridge Assisted Living in Wheaton. None of this would have been possible without Lee’s positive attitude and Laurie and Bill’s selfless gift of ongoing time, energy, and love to help Mom maintain independence.

Lee is survived by her children, their spouses and grandchildren: Laurie, Bill, Matt and Andy Campbell; Kathy, John, Kelley (Allan Eclarinal) and Emily Marciniak; Lisa, Max and William Spencer; and Tom, Michelle, Sam, Alex and Zach Brown; siblings Eunice (John) Harmon, Donna (Tony) Kostiuk, Maureen (Dave) Wall, Chris (Bob) Cozza, Jim, and Mary (Jeff) Fox; and by so many family and friends who loved her. She is predeceased by her husband Abel, her parents James and Eunice Machtemes, and Tom and Ethel Brown.

Her family is deeply grateful for the wonderful staff at Westbridge whose caring presence contributed to the quality of Mom’s final two years. Residential Hospice kindly collaborated with Westbridge to provide expert, compassionate care.

As a dedicated nurse whose lifelong mission was helping others, Lee graciously donated her body to the Anatomical Gift Society of Illinois.

In her final days, Lee told many what a wonderful life she has had. In that spirit, A Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, May 5 from 1-4 p.m. at Katherine Legge Lodge, at 5901 S County Line Road, Hinsdale Il 60521. All who knew and cared about Lee are warmly invited. In lieu of flowers, donations to organizations Lee cared about are welcome: American Stroke Foundation, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and National Alliance of Mental Illness

(Laurie, Kathy, Lisa and Tom)

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