Constance “Connie” Coleman, 80, a 49-year resident of Oak Park, died peacefully at home on March 4, 2021. Her many passions included nature and gardening, and the shrubs, flowers, and vegetables around her home reflected her love and hard work. Away from her home, she was a member of the Appalachian Trail Society and the Audubon Society and loved to walk on local and distant trails.
A music lover, particularly Baroque music, she was both listener and participant, singing in local choruses and chorales, and she never gave up her piano playing. She also loved to dance.
The second of three daughters born to John and Constance Ducey, she attended local schools in the Chicago area. After Manhattanville College in New York, she began a 33-year career with the U.S. Department of Labor, first in Washington D.C., and then in the Chicago Regional Office of the Employment and Training Administration. In her work, she was involved in the policy creation and design of job development programs, particularly the Job Corps. She successfully advocated for including onsite child care facilities so young parents could receive training and still be near their children.
She was also an advocate and mentor for young women at the Labor Department, pressing for equal treatment and pay in job assignments. This reflected her broader commitment to civil rights, social justice, equity, and racial justice. She volunteered as a tester for open housing and, as part of that effort, testified in federal court cases on housing discrimination.
While working and raising her family, she found time to earn a master’s degree in Labor and Industrial Relations from Loyola University of Chicago and later taught night-school courses concerning employee benefits at Roosevelt and Northwestern Universities.
Connie was the wife of Gary Lee Coleman; the mother of two sons, Conal (Sarah) and Peter (Deborah) Duffy; the grandmother of Megan (Philip Legan), Lisa, Conal Jr., Erin, Colleen, and Molly Duffy; the sister of Joanna (Dr. Joseph) Lawton and the late Veronica Ducey; the aunt and cousin and treasured friend of many.
A memorial service will be held later.
Arrangements were handled by Drechsler, Brown, & Williams Funeral Home.