Sunday, April 15, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Maiden Aunt part 2

“Remembering Kathleen, Whose Life Was Love”[i] there could be no better phrase to describe her!

Kathleen (on left) Graduation from St Joseph Academy
Kathleen Frances Connery was born 10 April 1895 in Chicago. She was the second child and the second daughter born to Michael Connery and Alice Fleming. She was baptized on 14 April 1895 at St Columkille Parish by Fr Thomas Burke and her godparents were James L and Mary Purcell.[ii]

Kathleen undoubtedly followed her sister Mary to St Joseph Academy since her home parish, St Mel, didn’t establish an elementary school until 1906[iii] and Mary had already attended St Joseph Academy. That their Uncle, Father Michael Fleming was the school chaplain added to the feeling of security of the girls.

Kathleen graduated from St Joseph in June of 1916 and went to work in her father’s Real Estate office as a stenographer.[iv]

Kathleen would remain working for her family’s business until her retirement. She moved from stenographer to bookkeeper and ultimately to travel agent as the company grew and expanded.

As a travel agent, Kathleen often sailed to Europe with frequent trips to London, Rome, and of course visits to her Irish cousins in Limerick. The spoils of these trips were lovingly given to her nieces and nephews.

While on trips to England, Kathleen would purchase complete sets of fine china. These were shipped back to Chicago where she would store them in anticipation of an upcoming niece’s engagement when said niece would be allowed to select her favorite of the available patterns. 

Private audience with Pope Pius XII, Kathleen and her mother front row
nuns in rear are Sisters Michael Joseph and Marie Camilla, OP

Trips to Rome included an audience with the Pope, one trip with her mother and sisters included Archbishop Sheil for a private audience with Pope Pius XII.

Sometime in the 1940s her brother Jack bought a summer cottage in Long Beach, Indiana, just outside of Michigan City. Jack named the cottage the Lazy Jane much to the embarrassment of his wife Jane. Eventually Jack sold the cottage to Kathleen who changed the name to "Lady Jane" and kept it for the use of the family. The cottage was rented for the month of July to cover the expense of taxes and general upkeep but for the rest of the year it was for the use of family members. My family went there for the last two weeks of August every summer.  As a senior in high school I could use the cottage for a weekend party with classmates. We were chaperoned of course!

Kathleen was a very complicated person. Full of love for her family, she became the caretaker of her parents as they aged. She also became the family “fixer” at times. If there was a problem she would work to find the solution. She arranged travel for the family as well as her office clients. Although she didn’t become the nun her sisters did, Kathleen did join the Third Order of St Francis. Her devotion to her faith preceded her devotion to her family but one never conflicted with the other.

After she retired from the office, Kathleen moved to Florida where she continued her caretaker duties nursing her sister Sister Michael Joseph before Sister returned to the Healthcare Center in Adrian. Later Kathleen would try to help another sister Betty return to health.

In her efforts to help others, Kathleen always had to do just one more thing. As a result Kathleen was almost always late to everything, to the extent that when my mother invited her to dinner, Kathleen was told that dinner would be at 4pm when it was really planned for 6pm. Among the family it was often said that she “would be late for her own funeral.” And she was!

Kathleen Francis Connery died on 12 August 1986 in a nursing home in West Palm Beach, Florida. Her memorial mass was held at Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette, IL on September 6, 1986[v]. Since she was cremated in Florida, her cremains were shipped to Illinois for burial. We were about a third of the way through the mass when her brother Jack entered the chapel carrying a container which he proceeded to place on the altar.  She was well and truly late to her own funeral!

Kathleen is buried in the family plot at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, IL.

Kathleen you were well loved!

[i] Title of Memorial Booklet designed by her niece Peggy Ann Ryan.
[ii] Illinois, Chicago Catholic Church Records 1833-1925, "," database with images, familysearch ( : online 4 December 2016), Birth and Baptism of Kathleen Connery; Family History Library film # 4332302 page 442.
[iii] St. Mel’s Grade School Centennial book  1886-1986
[iv] US Federal Census: Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 35, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_356; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 2230
[v] Chicago Tribune () , obit for KATHLEEN CONNERY, ( : accessed 15 April 2018)

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