Karen Gegner, 57, librarian, Citizen Involvement Committee member

Karen Elaine Gegner, 57, died on April 13, 2009 at Hinsdale Hospital after a brief illness. Born on March 2, 1952 in Medford, Ore. to Herman L. Gegner and Delores E. Gegner (King), who preceded her in death, she graduated from Medford High School in 1970, then moved to Eugene and enrolled at the University of Oregon, graduating in 1976.

For the next 10 years, she worked toward a graduate degree in theater and joined the University of Oregon library staff as part of the circulation department, becoming manager for the reserve and periodicals section. In 1986, she met John A. Shuler and they married on July 4, 1987. The couple moved to Hamilton, N.Y. in 1988, where Karen earned her master’s in Library and Information Science from Syracuse University.

In 1993, the Shulers moved to Oak Park, which they loved and where they lived for the last 16 years. During this time, Karen enjoyed several successful careers. She was a medical librarian at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University. In 1997, she joined Endeavor, a software development firm, as a project manager – eventually serving in several leadership roles as a senior manager for the firm’s implementation projects. She also worked as the text manager at Dominican University’s Stepan Bookstore and served as a member of the Village of Oak Park’s Citizen Involvement Committee.

Karen loved dancing, gardening, cooking for friends and family, photography, theater and world travel.

She is survived by her husband of 22 years; her sisters, Lindy Justice and Tamara David; and her nephews, Aaron Drake and Jeremy Drake.

A memorial service was held on behalf of Karen by her friends and co-workers at Dominican University’s Rosary Chapel. To celebrate her life with friends and family in Oregon, a second memorial service will be held at St. Jude Catholic Church in Eugene, Oregon.

In lieu of flowers, remembrances can be made in Karen’s name to: Mercy Housing, which organizes local efforts throughout the country to support affordable housing and supportive services (www.mercyhousing.org/support_work.aspx) or the Chicago Botanic Garden (www.chicagobotanic.org/donate/index.php).

William Chukwu, 66, Physician at West Sub Hospital

William Wusaobi Benjamin Chukwu, M.D., Ph.D., 66, a longtime resident of Oak Park, died on March 29, 2009 at West Suburban Hospital. Born to Mazi Wilfred and Madam Grace Chukwu on May 7, 1942 in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, West Africa, he was the youngest male of seven children. During his younger years as a boy scout, he became fond of tying knots. His love of knots, along with his commitment to helping others, led him to eventually pursue a career in medicine.

He attended St. Mary Catholic Primary School in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, then National High School in Arondizuogu, Imo State, Nigeria. He obtained his West African School Certificate (WASC) in 1960, then proceeded to St. Patrick’s College in Calabar, where he obtained a Higher School Certificate (HSC). He spent a brief period teaching at Stella Marie Secondary School in Port Harcourt before enrolling in Medical School at the University of Ibadan. His path through medical school had a period of interruption due to the Nigerian-Biafran War, but he graduated from the University of Ibadan Medical School in 1971, then practiced obstetrics & gynecology at both General Hospital and the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, where he was introduced to his wife, Helen Osunde.

In 1977, they moved to Omaha, Neb. where Dr. Chukwu became an academic fellow at the University of Nebraska in Omaha and Helen enrolled in college at the same institution. After he completed his doctoral degree in 1980, he pursued a residency program in Pathology at West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park. Following the completion of his program, Dr. Chukwu trained in family practice and became a general practitioner within the Chicago metropolitan area. He later practiced emergency medicine and throughout his service remained committed to delivering care to all, including those who were medically underserved.

Dr. Chukwu practiced medicine for over 25 years, most recently at the following hospitals: Michael Reese, Loretto, Jackson Park, Roseland Community and West Suburban.

He is survived by his wife, Helen Osunde Chukwu; his children, Nwabueze (Nneka), Helen, Neville, Conrad, Walter, Christiana and Princess (all of whom attended Longfellow Elementary, Julian Middle School, and Oak Park and River Forest High School); his grandchildren, Chukwuemeka and Chinedu; and his siblings, Regina Okeke and Michael and the late Cecilia Obioha, Gilbert, Christie Ohanehi, and Kate Echegiri. He was the uncle of many and will be greatly missed.

Visitation was held on April 3 at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home in Oak Park. Funeral Mass was celebrated at noon at St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy Church in Oak Park.

Donations to Dr. Chukwu’s family can be mailed to Princess Chukwu, his youngest child, at 732 S. Taylor Ave., Oak Park 60304.

Jessie Laadt, 99, Chicago Public Schools teacher

Jessie Laadt (nee Alfini), 99, of Oak Park, died on April 1, 2009. A longtime Oak Park resident, she graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School in 1927 and from Rosary College (now Dominican University) in 1931. She was a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools system.

Mrs. Laadt was the wife of the late Edward; the mother of Connie; daughter of the late Biaggio and Madeline Alfini; sister of the late Alfonso, Thomas, Anthony and Richard Alfini, the late Mae Alfe, Grace Leathers and Esther Besinger; and the aunt of many nieces and nephews.

Visitation was held on April 5 at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home in Oak Park. Funeral Mass was celebrated on April 6 at St. Edmund Church, followed by interment at St. Adalbert Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America are appreciated.

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