On Wednesday, October 21st, at age 79, Kathleen (Kathy) Placek was, although with very heavy hearts,
peacefully encouraged by those who loved her and those whom she loved in this earthly world that she be on her way to reunite with the many others from her life who loved her and whom she loved, waiting on her for a heavenly reunion.
Kathy was born to John and Marge (O'Neill) Burke on October 5, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois. She was the oldest girl in a family blessed with 5 brothers. She graduated from Notre Dame High School, Emporia State University, and University of Northern Colorado. Kathy was united in marriage to Donald Anthony Placek on June 8, 1968.
Many remarkably simple things in life made Kathy smile. Her many years of teaching, inspiring, and living kindness were precious to her. She was a teacher in every way a person could be. She always told the parents of her students "believe half of what they tell you and I will believe half of what they tell me." She told her students to "always be the cardinal and not the blue jay." She was kindness dressed in a sweater for every season and every occasion. She was every first graders dream teacher because absolutely everyone mattered, was special and had something to offer. She was a helper.
Kathy always knew what to say, cheered for both teams at sporting events because she wanted everyone to do well, was kind to every friend her children brought home, and tried to feed everyone all of the time. She earmarked hundreds of catalogs always looking for the perfect gift. She delivered Christmas cookies to the neighborhood in a Santa hat, and treated her kids to Orange Julius at the mall even when she could not afford it. She believed in "please and thank you," the sincerity of a handwritten note and 45-minute goodbyes.
The pride she felt for her children was unshakable, and for her grandchildren, palpable. She taught them to work hard, show love, never quit, accept a challenge, laugh at yourself, eat lots of peanuts, listen to Christmas music, sit on the beach, meet new people, help everyone you can, make smart choices, and always have something to look forward to.
Forever grateful for having had her in their lives are her three children, Don (Elizabeth) Placek of Traverse City, MI; Ann (Lance) Ryken of Yankton, SD; Marisha (Eric) Fritsch of Charleston, SC; 8 grandchildren, Graeme Placek, Katie (Bre) Placek, Jack Henry, Mac Ryken, Drew Ryken, Beck Ryken, Lexie McClelland and Joey McClelland. Brothers Tom (Betty) Burke, Jack (Mary Ellen) Burke, Joe (Diane) Burke, Jim (Carrie) Burke and sisters-in-law Colleen Burke and Carol Placek.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband Don Placek, brother Bill Burke, godson Kevin Burke, in-laws Frank and Cecelia Placek, and 5 brothers' and sisters' in-law Bob (Diane) Placek, Rich (Margaret) Placek and Jim Placek.
There will be a celebration of Kathy's life in Yankton, South Dakota in early June of 2021 followed by a subsequent service in Grand Island, Nebraska where she will join her beloved husband Don.
In lieu of flowers her family humbly requests that a donation be made to The Special Olympics program in her name. To make a donation, please copy and paste www.SpecialOlympics.org, then follow the prompts and name "Kathleen T. Placek" as the person you'd like to remember with your contribution.