Kathy Kocolowski passed away on July 13, 2017 in Winfield, IL

Written by Brust Funeral Home on July 19th, 2017

Kathy Picture
Kathy Kocolowski, nee Knuepfer, passed away on July 13, 2017 in Winfield, IL at the age of 52. She is survived by her husband, Jeff Kocolowski; her son, Connor; and her daughter, Kailey.

Kathy was born on June 20, 1965, and is survived by her loving mother Nancy and father Paul Knuepfer, who predeceased her. She grew up in a loving family with her brother and is survived by him, Paul Knuepfer, his wife Jen Knuepfer, and nephews, Kyle and Josh. Kathy is also survived by her father-in-law Ronald Kocolowski, late mother-in-law Loretta, brother-in-law Ken, sister’s-in-law Jennifer, Megan, husband Patrick McKenna, nieces Riley, Quinn, and nephew Carter.

Kathy was a gymnast at Willowbrook High School and graduated from Iowa State in 1986 with a degree in mechanical engineering. She was a driven professional and recently celebrated her 25th anniversary at Carrier as a mechanical engineer and project manager. Throughout her acclaimed career, Kathy led several major projects, such as Willis Tower, Chicago Art Institute, and the tallest building west of the Mississippi (to name a few).

Kathy enjoyed spending time with her family and close friends, especially at her beloved lake house in Monticello, IN. Kathy used her creative eye and knack for redesign to renovate the lake house into a beautiful and serene second home for her family; fearless with any saw or nail gun. She loved entertaining, hosting holiday celebrations and impromptu gatherings…sometimes with eclectic themes. Kathy always cooked creative, healthy, and organic dishes. She loved music, attending concerts, traveling, and yoga. Kathy’s warm and affable personality touched many, many people. She cherished her time at last year’s Knuepfer family reunion in Ouray, Colorado with everyone gathering from across various parts of the country. Kathy was looking forward to hosting her annual “girlfriend” trip and a gathering of all of the Knuepfer cousins, at the lake house near the end of this summer.

When Kathy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, she remained dedicated in her work and in her will to fight her illness. She remained a brave, iron-willed woman, even throughout her final months. Reappearing unexpectedly this spring, she fought hard with immense courage, beauty, and grace.

Visitation will be held Friday, July 21 from 3-8 PM at Brust Funeral Home, 135 South Main Street, Lombard, IL 60148. Funeral services will be held Saturday, July 22  with viewing at 9:30 until time of service at 11:00 AM at Community Presbyterian Church, 1111 E. Madison St, Lombard, IL 60148.

In lieu of flowers donations to, Susan G. Komen, 8765 W. Higgins Road, Suite 401, Chicago, IL 60631-4022


7 Comments so far ↓

  1. Sharon & Jeff Dubois says:

    Jeff and I had the pleasure of spending time with Kathy and Jeff in Mexico in November of 2015. She was absolutely the nicest person to be around. We had a wonderful time and created so many fond memories. She was a delightful person and she was so full of love and life. She will be deeply missed by all the lives that she touched over the years. Our deepest sympathy to Jeff and family.

  2. Michele Mele-Altobello says:

    My heart hurts. I worked with Kathy for several years. Her smile was contagious. Her attitude was always positive. She never stopped working. Even thru the toughest times. She came into the office with her head wrap on and was laughing. Only Kathy!!! Her push to eat healthy was inspiring. I’m going to miss you my sweet friend. Heaven has just been awarded one of its strongest angels. My prayers go out to Jeff and the family.

  3. Carla Schleimer says:

    Kathy was like her mother, Nancy. Strong, smart, beautiful inside & out. She will truly be missed. Our deepest sympathy to all of Kathy’s family.
    May she rest in peace.
    God Bless,
    Bob & Carla Schleimer

  4. James Drugas says:

    I had some fond memories of Kathy from high school, particularly in physics class, where she was virtually the only girl in our small class. She handled us wise guys with class & humor. I saw her from time to time during our reunions, and though she had been diagnosed, she was always in great spirits and laughing at everything. Her beautiful personality matched her beautiful looks. My most heartfelt condolences to my friend Jeff and the entire family. Stay strong, Kathy wouldn’t have it any other way. Heaven has just become a nicer place.

  5. Frank Cep. says:

    I knew Cathy through her entire career at Carrier. I will always remember her as the smart and wonderful person that she was. I will not only miss her positive attitude but also as her being a good friend. I would like to offer Jeff and her family my deepest condolences.

  6. Mike Gogola says:

    Kathy was definitely a one in a million person. She was always positive, and had a great outlook inspite of the adversity she faced, she even made fun of how curly her hair came back. She loved her family and always shared stories of her and Jeff. My deepest condolences to her family.

  7. Heidi Cain Bowbin says:

    I was a gymnast with Kathy at Willowbrook and when I look back at those fond memories Kathy is always part of them. She always had a smile on her face and was a ray of sunshine and a wonderful friend. One of my best teammates ever! My heart aches for all of you. My heartfelt condolences to Kathy’s entire family. Heaven truly has become a better place indeed.

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