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Life Story / Obituary
All Kathleen Panek could ever hope for was to see her children happy, and successful. Family was at the heart of Kathleen's life, and her greatest joy. One of a kind, Kathleen loved unconditionally, was a stranger to none, and encouraged all. She was an open minded woman who with a sassy class all her own, made life more enjoyable for anyone who came to know and love her. Dearly loved, she will be fondly remembered, and deeply missed.
As the infamous Roaring Twenties gave way to hard economic times the world over, financial uncertainty was merely the beginning as the Great Depression was officially launched after a time of much growth and prosperity. For Alfred and Hazel (Coughlin) DeMuynck, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the birth of their little girl, Kathleen on January 16, 1929 brought hope for better tomorrows.
Kathleen's family moved to the U.S., settling in Detroit, Michigan where she was raised alongside her sisters, Mary, Rose, and Evelyn. Her father was a hardworking ironworker, while her mother remained at home as a homemaker. Despite the times, Kathleen enjoyed a childhood typical of her generation. She liked ice skating, and was an avid reader. Having attended the area schools, she sang in the school choir.
Kathleen enjoyed seeing all the latest flicks and before long, she landed her first job working as an usherette at the Harper Theater in town. In fact, her boss at the theater set Kathleen up on a blind date with Ray Panek, who soon swept her off her feet. They loved attending all the formal dances together before her high school graduation. Through the years, Kathleen kept a very detailed scrapbook which included corsages from every dance. Kathleen went on to work at Kreske's in the pet department and then at Hudson's Department Store.
At the age of 19, Kathleen married her sweetheart, Ray in Detroit at St. John Berchman's Catholic Church on May 6, 1948. She counted the day she married Ray as the greatest of her life, and noted in her scrapbook, “This is the church I’ll be married in. This is where I start a new life, next June, 1948.” They settled into married life and soon began a family of their own. Blessed with five children, Michael, Timothy, Deborah, Susan, and Eileen, they were the delight of Kathleen's life. Unconditional in her love, she encouraged her children to follow their hopes and dreams, and only wanted the best for them.
Kathleen made a good home for Ray and the children all while expanding her social zest for life and career. Along with her "self-awarded" degree in child development and human relations by raising five children, Kathleen was well rounded and diverse in her endeavors. In 1976 she received her certificate in medical terminology and insurance from Marygrove College, and in 1977 she acquired her real estate license.
Kathleen used her skills in these areas in a variety of ways. For a number of years she was a Mary Kay cosmetic consultant. Passionate about skin care and making women feel beautiful, she worked hard in this venture and so wanted that pink Cadillac! For several years she was a secretary for insurance agents and an attorney, and worked as an employment counselor at Snelling and Snelling. As a photo consultant with Olan Mills Photography, Kathleen loved working with clients to help them find beauty in their photography. She did direct sales for Park Lane jewelry by phone and engaging in home parties, and held a receptionist position at John Gregory Salon and Boutique where she kept up on Redford Suburban League gossip. Kathleen loved making women feel and look their best. Most importantly, her encouraging and positive demeanor allowed them to feel like they could own the world!
Along with spending time with her family at her parent's cottage in Owen Sound, Ontario, Kathleen also enjoyed driving to New York to visit her sister, Mary. For their 25th wedding anniversary, Kathleen and Ray took a memorable trip to Hawaii. When their son, Michael moved to California, they also visited him. Kathleen had a blast when she traveled to Las Vegas to visit Michael in his new home. With her endless, outgoing ways, she even became friends with a few of the dancers after seeing one of their Las Vegas shows. So typical of Kathleen, she had the natural ability to draw others to her side, and was often the life of the party!
Kathleen had a love for history, and kept up on current events. She had a disdain for technology, as it took away from human interaction. Through the years two lovable cats, Fred and John, became part of her life, but it was her deep and unique relationship with each of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren that put a song in Kathleen's heart. She often referred to them as her, "Honeybee", and she had a way of making them each feel special in her own way.
Always active, Kathleen had places to go, people to see, and things to do. She was a member of Generations, a group for those 50 and older who discussed life and how to make it better. She was also a member of the Redford Suburban League for nearly 50 years where she was involved in fundraisers for numerous children's charities by way of theatrical shows. Ray used his talent and skill to help build the sets for those shows. She bowled on a league, and later in life, it was no surprise when Kathleen became a member of the Red Hat Society.
Truly one of a kind, Kathleen will be remembered for her uncanny blurbs, such as her unforgettable, “Holy cats and jammer kids”, and often used the word, "bloody" to describe everything. When in agreement, she always said, “Yepper, Yepper”, and when asked how she was, she always said, “I’m near perfect". Kathleen loved music, especially Barbra Streisand, along with Cher, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Bette Midler. Musicals were her favorite, including, Chicago, Hello Dolly, The Sound of Music, Funny Girl, Moulin Rouge, and Victor Victoria, although any movie starring Shirley Temple, Barbra Streisand or Robert Redford was well worth watching. Kathleen was also as voracious reader. She read a book every night, and had hundreds of books of her own.
Kathleen could strike up a conversation with anyone! She made many friends through her circles, and valued those she became friends with at Walgreen's, Value Center, Botsford Hospital, the gas station, and even the place where she got her oil changed! Classy and sassy, Kathleen was sometimes even a little bawdy in a fancy sort of way. And she enjoyed flirting with all the young, handsome men she encountered! But it was through Kathleen's genuine kindness and compassion that made her so lovable. She was open minded, loved unconditionally, and of course, she was always right, so it was pointless to debate with her!
Above all, it was her love of family that gave Kathleen strength and determination. Her heart's desire was found in the happiness and well-being of those she loved, and that was all she could ever hope for. Kathleen's lasting influence can be seen in the faces of her family, the light in their eyes when they talk about her, and the hearts she touched. She will be remembered and appreciated for ways uniquely her own.
Kathleen Panek passed away February 26, 2015 at the age of 86. She was the beloved wife of the late Raymond who sadly passed away in November of 1997. Kathleen was the loving mother of Michael (Robin), Timothy, Deborah (Charles) Mulka, Susan (Daniel) Gurgul, Eileen Fisher; dearest grandmother of Jamie, Hillary, Taylor, Jacob, Melissa, Aaron, Emily, Hannah; great-grandmother of Jason, Joshua, Amelia, Gabriel, Annabelle, Elliott, Truman; special sister of Mary, Rose, Evelyn. Visitation with family and friends will be Monday, 3-9 PM and the funeral service to celebrate Kathleen's life will be held Tuesday, 10:00 AM at the Neely-Turowski Life Story Funeral Home, 30200 Five Mile (Between Middlebelt and Merriman). To share a favorite memory or photo of Kathleen and to sign her online guest book prior to arriving at the funeral home, please visit www.TurowskiLifeStory.com.