Susan Kay Sakash

Susan Kay Sakash, nee Kaminsky, passed peacefully, at Elmhurst Hospital, with her loving and devoted husband of 37 years, Bill, at her side.


Her death was entirely unexpected, due to complications caused by a mass in her large intestine that took her life only hours after we’d learned of its existence. We are all heartbroken, numb, and in shock.


She had two sons, Pete and Tom, and one daughter, Davy; their spouses, Brittany, Ashley, and Ben, respectively. But she was “mom” to countless many other people in her life: Her students at St. Joseph High School. Her children’s friends. And the many other people she adopted, sponsored, be-friended, and mentored in her community, throughout her career, and all over the world.


She had two grandchildren, Sam and Camden Sakash, or Sam and Cam, with whom she loved playing and feeding at mealtime, encouraging them to be as messy as they could be. In losing Susan, her grandchildren, especially, have lost someone important, someone they would have developed enormously loving and close relationships with as they grew older. She also had close, positive relationships with her children’s spouses (an Italian cab driver on a recent vacation had remarked how this would be very unlikely in his country) and was a sage, calming, humorous, and thoughtful presence during new momhood for both Brittany and Ashley.


Susan lived her life in service to others. She received her undergraduate’s degree in English from Northern University, and her master’s degrees in Social Work, Education and Special Education from National Louis University and Northeastern Illinois University. She spent decades of her life serving as a clinical social worker, a high-school counselor, a grade-school and high-school teacher, and special-education administrator.


She loved talking with and listening to people. She served for more than ten years as a Hospice social worker, and more recently worked with World Relief mentoring refugee families and teaching them English. She sponsored and mentored Native American young women from reservations in New Mexico and Arizona, was a city planner for the City of Chicago, and a vice-president of the Elmhurst Walk-in Ministry and the American Association of University Women. In 1987, she co-founded the organization FEMALE for new moms who had stepped away from their professional careers, an organization that grew to over 8,000 members and more than 100 chapters nationwide.


Her work supporting and mentoring children and young adults in Cambodia played a significant part in her life, work that included her recent appointment to the board of Education First Cambodia, an organization that empowers highly talented female university students in Phnom Penh from among Cambodia’s poorest families. She is beloved by the many, many people that she touched there.


She was a lover of books and an avid watcher of sports, passions she passed along to her sons. She was stubborn and strong-willed. She was irreverent and also appreciated irreverence, particularly when in the company of her brothers Cliff and Jerry. At social events, even those she was sometimes reluctant to attend, her wit, humor, and sarcasm were legendary. She was somehow also always, always the most modest, caring, and inclusive person in the room.


For years she struggled with multiple sclerosis, but never let it stop her from pursuing her passions and living her life with humor and love.


She hated cooking. Her penmanship was typewriter perfect. Her t-shirts were three sizes too large. She kept notebooks that she filled every day, for years, with the names of the people with whom she made plans to stay in touch. Other notebooks were littered with dates and quotes and sports trivia and funny things she heard people say. Her eyesight was terrible. Stacks of emery boards were always within an arm’s reach. She believed that chocolate cake was a wholesome breakfast.


She was her husband’s rock when he lost both of his parents. She was the rock for many people during times of great difficulty. She loved dogs maybe as much as she loved swearing at dogs. She always wore socks with treads on them when babysitting Sam because she knew Brittany was worried about her falling. She had the worst sense of direction, possibly ever.


In addition to her immediate family, she leaves behind her parents, Phyllis and Lee; her brother Jerry, his wife Debbie, and their children Jon, Nick, and Lindsey; her sister-in-law Diana and nephews Josh and Rob; her step-siblings Dennis and Ricki; and countless other friends, family, and loved ones who now all have to figure out how to cope with this tragedy without the counsel of the person we all would have sought out in a time of such stinging and unfair loss.


She is, however, reunited with her late brother Cliff. And according to their brother Jerry:

“I am blessed to have the best brother and sister anyone could ask for. And they are both together now, making fun of me for something.

“And that’s OK.”

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in memory of Susan to Education First Cambodia, World Relief DuPage/Aurora, 191 S. Gary Ave. Ste. 130, Carol Stream, IL 60188 or your local food bank.


Memorial Service Program






Memorial contributions may be made to :

Education First Cambodia

World Relief DuPage/Aurora, 191 S. Gary Ave. Ste. 130, Carol Stream, IL 60188

or your local food bank.

30 comments on “Susan Kay Sakash
  1. Richard Knitter says:

    So sorry. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. The Knitters.

  2. Tony Tarabochia says:

    Bill I am so sorry to hear this, my thoughts and prayers are with you and the rest of your family

  3. Chris Schramko says:

    Bill: My sincere condolences to you and your entire family. Our prayers are with you. The Schramko Family

  4. Kathleen Steber says:

    Dear. Family.
    We were lucky to have known Susan and Bill in their time in Briarwood
    Such wonderful people
    Susan will be missed in many ways
    Deep sorry
    Bill and Kathleen Steber

  5. Jen McShane says:

    You could not have captured her spirit any better than with these beautiful words. She was an amazing woman, for sure and will be missed by so many. Thinking of and praying for you all. The McShane family.

  6. Claude says:

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Claude & Vicki Willis

  7. Theang sithat says:

    I am sorry to hear that. May her soul Rest In Peace

  8. Betty and Charlie Laliberte says:

    Our condolences. It was always a pleasure to be with Susan at Rotary and social events. She will be missed by all. Our heart goes out to you and the entire family.

  9. Bob & Phyllis says:

    Our deepest condolences to Susan’s beautiful family. We will always remember Susan; she was a very special one-of-a-kind friend. She touched our hearts, and knowing her has made us better people. She will be greatly missed. Love, Phyllis & Bob

  10. John Jevitz says:

    I met Susan through tennis and remember her yelling at me. “Jevitz I don’t run!”
    She introduced me to some of my greatest friends and most beloved people in my life such as: Bill, Pete and Tom as well as many athletes from St. Joe’s such as Damien M., etc… Honest, loyal, witty, funny, caring and kind. We will all miss and love you Susan!

  11. Jean Kesner says:

    We were shocked and saddened to hear of Susan’s sudden departure. Bill, she was a wonderful lady and over the years we had gotten to know her better. I will never forget the wonderful evening we had last summer at the White Sox game. We were looking forward to spending more time together.

    We are thinking of all the Sakash family ad close friends., our thoughts and prayers are with all of you during this time of loss.

  12. Joe ONeil says:

    Such beautiful words. I will miss her so much and so grateful Susan was part of my life. She cared so deeply for her family and all those she touched.
    She is an inspiration in my life.

  13. Carolyn Munroe says:

    I only met her once but I felt that I had known her for years. She was so friendly, warm and hysterical! I regret that I won’t have the opportunity to become friends with her. I can’t imagine the void you all must feel because obviously she was amazing! My prayers are with all of you.

  14. Jack Gibbons says:

    So sorry for your loss Bill. I will say a prayer for her

  15. lgnaf says:

    Bill & Pete, I’m so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your entire family.

  16. Rosendo Duarte says:

    Bill, Pete, Tom,
    I’m so Sorry for your loss, Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the entire family.
    The Duarte’s family

  17. Robert Madden says:

    My prayers go out to you and your entire family. May your wonderful memories help you through the days ahead. Susan’s Obituary details some of the wonderful work she did in her life here on earth. She will certainly be missed by many.

  18. rinachhun says:

    “Susan lived her life in service to others.” She is already missed and she will always live in my heart. I am so thankful that our lives paths had crossed at the New Day of Cambodia, the Harpswell Foundation and the Education First for Cambodia. She is a kindest person you can ever ask for and I am so lucky to get to know her. I am so regret that I could not make it to see her in Cambodia in 2019. Please rest in peace my dear amazing lady on earth.

  19. Bob & Debbie Myers says:

    Our sincere condolences to Bill and family. We continue to keep you in our prayers.

  20. Jeff Hucek says:

    My deepest sympathy to you and your family. Those words are a glowing tribute to her.

  21. Pat and Neil Vandenberg says:

    We were so very sorry to hear of Susan’s passing. Our prayers are with you Bill and your whole family as you grieve her loss. May God hold you in his hands.

  22. Jim Canfield says:

    Bill, Pete, Tom,

    My deepest sympathy, prayers and love go out to you all. I’m so sorry to learn of this news.

    The Canfield family

  23. Phil Herra says:

    So sorry for your loss and the rest of your family. Every day you hit the world to do your best. Your wife Susan sounds like the rock. It’s a tradgic event to lose a loved one that means so much. God be with Susuan and the rest of your family.
    Phil Herra

  24. Steve Parker says:

    My deepest sympathy on Susan’s passing. Our families prayers and thoughts are with you in this time of grief.
    Steve Parker

  25. Diane Godfrey says:

    Bill, Pete and Tom,
    My heart goes out to all of you on the passing of your Mom. Susan was a wonderful person. She was a very caring person and always made you feel welcome.
    She is in our prayers as well as your family.
    Diane and Ed Godfrey

  26. The Kosteckis says:

    We were heartbroken to hear about Susan’s passing. She was an absolute treasure. Sending love to you and the family.

  27. Donna Tuerk says:

    We are so very sorry to hear about Susan’s passing. Our thought and prayers are with you and your family at this sad time.
    John and Donna Tuerk

  28. Pat & Joyce Mehegan says:

    Joyce and I were shocked and dismayed when we were informed of Susans passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Such a beautiful soul, such a void in a world that she embraced and truly will be missed.

  29. Joe Devereux says:

    Bill , so sorry to hear of Susan’s.sudden passing. We will keep her, you and family in our prayers. Joe and Joan Devereux, Elmhurst, IL.

  30. Joe Devereux says:

    Bill, so sorry to hear of Susan’s sudden passing. We will keep her, you and family in our prayers. I’m sure Uncle Bill, SJ, greeted her when she arrived in heaven. Joe and Joan Devereux , Elmhurst, IL

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