Kay Bracco, 88, religious educator, advocate for justice

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Katherine C. "Kay" Bracco (nee Coughlin), 88, died peacefully surrounded by her loving family on Oct. 3, 2013. A lifetime resident of Oak Park and daughter of Arthur and Lilian Coughlin, she dedicated her life to family, community service, and social justice. From a young age, she learned to be a "thinking Catholic" and grew up with a strong faith in God. After marrying the love of her life in 1950, Kay and Mike joined the Christian Family Movement at St. Edmund Parish. They immediately became involved in Pre-Cana and Cana, mentoring engaged and married couples. Kay was on the first St. Edmund school board, was active in the Mothers Club, and taught CCD.

The Braccos brought 10 children into the world, teaching them that, "God gives you 24 hours a day to give back to him in one form or another." After Mike died in 1975, she became the first full-time director of religious education (DRE) at St. Edmund. In her 15-year role as DRE, she formed the first liturgy committee, adult education committee, RCIA, Theology on Tap, and was youth minister for eight of those 15 years. She continued to serve both the church and community as a Eucharistic minister, PADS volunteer, Mrs. Mannerly etiquette instructor, lecturer, election judge, and consultant to the Jewish/Catholic Family School at Old St. Pat's.

A treasure to all she encountered, especially her grandchildren, she loved and respected their individuality. Her doors were always open, so she became "Grandma Kay" to more than just her blood relatives. Neighbor children and friends of her grandchildren looked to her for stories, advice and support. Her innate ability to connect with people of all ages was a remarkable gift.

She remained social, optimistic, and grateful until the very end, making friends with fellow residents and staff at Holley Court, Belmont Village, and St. Patrick's Residence. She was an incredible force and her legacy of faith, family, and service will live on through all she touched.

Kay Bracco was the wife of the late Michael M; the mother of Beth (John) Bonanno, Dennis (Colleen Kenney), Michael (Karen Connors), Lawrence (Jen Simpson), Martin (Beth), Steven (Susan), Robert (Diane), Meg (Greg) Liebreich, Peter (Melissa), Barbara Sipes and the late John Thomas Bracco; the grandmother of Nicki, Patrick, Erin, Eileen, Anthony, Daniel, Carly, Cami, Tanner, Alec, Audrey, Claire, Jack, Michael, Elizabeth, Anna, Michael, Sarah, Kevin, Celeste, Eddie, Senna, Sawyer, Stockie, and Saoirse; great-grandmother of Frankie, Santino, Vince, and Nico; sister of Alice Coughlin and the late Mary (the late Al) Donnellan and Josephine (the late Howard) Stuker; and the aunt and great-aunt of many. She was preceded in death by her grandchildren: Eugene and Scout.

Visitation took place at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home on Oct. 7 and a funeral Mass was celebrated at Ascension Church in Oak Park on Oct. 8, followed by private interment at Queen of Heaven Cemetery.

Memorials to West Suburban PADS and St. Patrick's Residence are appreciated.

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