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Grace Marie McEwen passed away peacefully in her home at Cedar Lake Assisted Living & Memory Care Center in Lake Zurich, IL, on Friday, November 10, 2023. She was 88.
A beloved daughter, sister, and aunt, she was preceded in death by her father C. Logan McEwen, mother Grace H. (Reick) McEwen, and brother Logan McEwen, who passed away just last year.
She is survived by her cherished niece Jill (husband John Spude), adored nephew Gary (wife LeeAnn), much-loved grandnephews Ryan and Colin Spude, Kevin McEwen, only grandniece Dr. Courtney McEwen, and dear cousin Alice Paluch.
Grace was born at Belmont Hospital in Chicago on January 19, 1935, and grew up on the northwest side of Chicago (5218 W School Street) in the Portage Park neighborhood, which she called home for the first 57 years of her life. She attended Reinberg Elementary School, Foreman High School in 1953 and Carthage College, where she received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1956.
Grace taught 3rd and 4th grade at North School in Franklin Park for nearly 40 years, during which time she received her master’s degree in education from National Louis University at the age of 50. Later in life, she would often look back fondly on the many memorable students that comprised her dedicated and lengthy tenure as a primary school educator, including Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike Shanahan.
A doting daughter, she cared for her mother for the better part of three decades. Following her mother’s death and her retirement from teaching in 1993, Grace sold her family home on School Street and purchased a home in Rolling Meadows. There, she volunteered at nearby Kimball Hill School, helping students in the school library. A devout Lutheran, Grace joined Bethel Lutheran church, becoming a member of the church council and volunteering weekly at the food pantry. She was generous with her time and felt a strong call to be of service.
Grace relished her post-retirement life where she enjoyed traveling to California, Colorado, Washington, and Florida, embarked on an Alaskan cruise, and made a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Ireland. She visited the beauty shop like clockwork on a weekly basis to get her hair done, collected Lladro statues, and loved to read and participate in book clubs. Always intellectually curious and self-sufficient, she increased her knowledge of personal finance by participating in a stock club. Her personality was often easy-going in mixed company, but in private, she was independent, determined, and fiercely self-reliant—the admirable qualities of a proud, self-made woman.
Grace was blessed with great friends throughout her life, including her dear cousin Alice, colleagues from North School and Kimball Hill, parishioners from church, neighbors in Rolling Meadows, and so many more. She loved weekday lunches with her girlfriends, going out to breakfast after church service, and her frequent phone conversations with friends and family. She was easy to be around and talk to; a mindful listener, rarely judgmental, and always quick to offer a kind word of support and encouragement in her distinctive soothing conversational tone.
After almost 27 years living at 1 Shannon Lane in Rolling Meadows, Grace transitioned to Cedar Lake in 2019 to be in closer proximity to her niece, Jill, and her family, who could best look after and provide for her care towards the end of her life. She was a favorite among the Cedar Lake staff upon arrival, who took immediate notice of her classiness and quiet dignity. Remarkably, she survived almost 18 months of COVID isolation by keeping a daily journal, reading, and corresponding with her many dear friends and family, never losing her benevolent nature.
When it came to her family, Grace was a beloved daughter, sister, and aunt. She was unfailingly kind, sweet-hearted, compassionate, and the most thoughtful person a family could ever ask for. She never missed an opportunity to celebrate a holiday or life achievement with a greeting card, a gift, a personal phone call, or more than likely, all three combined. Her trademark soft, cackling laugh was positively infectious. She delighted in asking questions and learning more about what was happening in the lives of her beloved family, beamed with pride at their accomplishments, and was a constant presence at every family gathering, special occasion, holiday, and Sunday dinner—all because of the tremendous love she shared for and with each member of her grateful family. Our hearts are understandably heavy at her loss, but our minds and souls are at ease knowing that our Amazing Grace has returned home to be reunited with the Lord.
A Visitation will be held Thursday, November 16, 2023, at 10 AM until the funeral service at 11 AM at Davenport Funeral Home, 941 S Rand Rd, Lake Zurich, IL. Private interment at Mt Emblem Cemetery will follow for immediate family only.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Grace Marie McEwen would be appreciated to her alma mater of Carthage College at the Office of Institutional Advancement, Carthage College, 2001 Alford Park Drive, Kenosha, Wisconsin 53140-9986.