Cherry Blossoms

Kathy J Sekela

November 17, 1958 ~ April 13, 2022 (age 63)


Kathleen Joyce Sekela, or as she preferred to be called Kathy, passed away peacefully in her
sleep at the age of 63 on April 13, 2022.
Kathy was born a wonderfully unique child on November 17, 1958 to her parents, Mary and
Joseph Sekela. Like one in 700 children, Kathy was born with Down Syndrome. Despite
doctor’s advising Kathy’s parents to not see her at birth and to send her to an institution, her
parents reneg and courageously brought her home where she was loved and adored.
Although Kathy’s development was slow, she learned to walk and talk with the devotion of her
family. Special education was limited at the time and there was no Early Intervention or Special
Education preschool. Therefore, everything was up to her parents. When she turned 5 years
old, she was eligible to attend a Special Education class in Wayne, which at the time involved all
types of disabilities and ages. During her time at school, special education evolved and
programs became geared more towards individual needs. This provided Kathy with instruction
to learn basic reading and arithmetic and she graduated from Wayne Hills High School in 1980.
After celebrating her graduation, Kathy and her parents moved to Manahawkin, New Jersey
where she entered a day program through Southern Ocean County ARC. She also attended a
Saturday recreation program in which the group would bowl, play various games, and swim.
Kathy greatly enjoyed these recreational activities, with bowling being her favorite.
In 1992, Kathy’s father passed away and she continued living with her mother now in Surf City,
New Jersey. She stayed there until October 2012, when Hurricane Sandy caused evacuations
and she went with her mother to stay in Wayne with her sister and brother-in-law, Mary Jo and
Blaine Hoekstra. Unfortunately, in October 2013 Kathy’s mother passed away. Kathy remained
permanently with her sister and brother-in-law.
While living in Wayne, Kathy continued to enjoy watching her favorite television shows: I Love
Lucy, The Price Is Right, but especially, Full House. She also loved to color and design wedding
dresses and cakes. She had a wonderful sense of humor and would frequently use phrases
she heard on television shows, such as “You got it dude,” “Did I do that?” and “Hubba hubba!”
She also had some of her own phrases that were adored by her family, such as “Best I ever
had,” “What am I? Chopped liver?” and “I need a break.”
Kathy also was able to frequently see her niece and her husband, Heather Hoekstra and Nick
Brandreth and her nephew and his wife, Douglas and Kelly Hoekstra, with her great niece and
great nephew, Nora and Gabriel. Additionally, she was fond of the pets in the household and
called one of the dogs her “bodyguard.”
The family is devastated by the loss of this funny, loving, and engaging individual. They will be
holding a private memorial to celebrate her life and the wonderful influence she had on their
lives. Kathy may have been the one child in seven hundred to have Downs Syndrome, but to
her family, she was, and always will be, one in a million.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to:
The National Association for Down Syndrome
1460 Renaissance Drive, Suite #102
Park Ridge, IL 60068.

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