Kathleen ‘Kathy’ Hawbaker

By on June 23, 2014

Kathleen “Kathy” Hawbaker, 72, longtime resident of Elburn, passed away unexpectedly Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Gone from our sight, but never our hearts, she will be missed greatly.

Kathy was born Nov. 14, 1941, in Currie, Minn., the daughter of Lewis and Anne (Ruppert) Shults. She attended local schools and grew up in Watertown, S.D.

Love found Kathy early and she was united in marriage to Larry Kruthoff, and together they began a journey that would take them through a number of states; wherever they lived was “home”. They began a family that would grow to six children by the time they came to make their home in Elburn.

She began working at Richardson Electronics in 1971 and continued there for the next 35 years until health issues brought her retirement in 2006. She was a devoted employee and loved by all who worked with her.

Larry passed away in March of 1978, leaving Kathy with a family at home. Necessity brought her to work a part-time job waiting tables at Gino’s Riverside Tap in Batavia. She was working one night when she met Norm Hawbaker. He came in with a friend and caught Kathy’s eye, and later her heart. Six months later, Kathy and Norm were united in marriage on Nov. 12, 1978, in Wayne, Ill. After a few months in St. Charles, they made their home on Smith Road in rural Elburn.

Norm and Kathy blended their families together, and when they were all gathered around the table, there were 10 brothers and sisters.

One of the favorite family activities was taking the camper and the “Hawk” out for a “little time away” at a campground; both fun and memories were made. Through the years, there were countless trips to countless campgrounds. She was known far and wide for the biscuits and gravy that she made for not only her family, but for all who came. Camping and trips often included the grandkids, who will treasure those memories for all of their lives. A special memory involved something that Kathy did as they left each campsite: when everything was done and they were ready to head down the road, Kathy would throw a penny over her shoulder towards the fire pit. In 2008, as health issues made traveling difficult, the book was closed on that part of their lives. But the memories that were written there will be imprinted on the hearts of her family forever.

She and Norm always had a number of “rescued” dogs who were “part of the family.” Even when she could no longer have a dog of her own, she carried treats in the basket of her walker to share with four-legged friends she met along the way.

She and Norm enjoyed going to the VFW Club in Batavia, where they shared time with friends. Then, in November of 2010, Kathy’s soulmate, Norm, passed away. And by the beginning of 2011, she moved to make home at The Meadows in Elburn. The Meadows brought a whole new group of friends, and it didn’t take long before many came to sit in the area outside her room. “She was the glue that held the group together.”

Kathy enjoyed her hobby of gambling, and on her 70th birthday her family held a party at The Meadows and presented her with a “tree of scratch tickets”—70 of them. It was there that she met her honorary “brother,” Paul—true friends that called each other “bro” and “sis.”

In the last years, Kathy could no longer cook her meals. True to the devotion of family, meals were prepared by her daughter and delivered faithfully by her grandson, Zack, each day. Where love grows, no task is too difficult.

She is survived by 10 children, Cindy Sowinski, Doris (Tim) Klomhaus, Terry (Dave) Lamb, Clarence (Ida) Kruthoff, Karl (Sally) Kruthoff, Larry (Lupe) Kruthoff, Juliet (Dick) Stewart, Cindy Hawbaker, Sandy (Anthony) Dinnocenzio and Jeff (Terri) Hawbaker; 32 grandchildren; 29 great-grandchildren; three brothers, Orville Shults, Jerry (Marge) Shults and Lewis (Rose) Shults; many nieces, nephews and cousins; and a community of friends that were as close as family.

She is preceded in death by her parents, Lewis and Anne Shults; her first husband, Larry Kruthoff; her second husband, Norm Hawbaker; a son-in-law, Steve Sowinski; one grandson, Charles Burnett Hawbaker; five siblings, Clarence Shults, MaryAnne Barnes, Bernice Mondloch, Louise Whitten and one brother in infancy.

The family held a celebration of life for Kathy on Monday at Elburn Lions Park.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in Kathy’s name. Checks may be made to the “Kathleen Hawbaker Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119, or directly to H.E.L.P., P.O. Box 972, St. Charles, IL 60174. Tributes may also be forwarded to Box 66 or on the web at www.conleycare.com.