Lillian Kehoe, 84, guidance counselor

Lillian Kozlik Kehoe, age 84, of Ridgefield, loving wife, adored mother, devoted grandmother and great-grandmother, died peacefully after a brief battle with cancer on Sunday, May 25. Unwilling to be apart from her husband, Jerry, who passed away on May 21st, she followed him just four days later. Lillian and Jerry, lifelong soul mates, began dating at the age of 16, married at the age of 18, and just recently celebrated their 66th anniversary. During her final hours, Lillian was surrounded by her family, who will miss her deeply but who understand that she needed to be with Jerry, from whom she was rarely apart.

Lillian was born in Manhattan, New York to the late Dorothy (Koch) and Charles Kozlik. She was raised in Queens (Middle Village) and attended P.S. 49 and Newtown High School (Elmhurst).

Jerry and Lillian moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut in September 1958, where Lillian and Jerry raised their two children, Steven and Kathleen. During her early years in Ridgefield, while Jerry managed the school bus company, Lillian drove a school bus. Never afraid to get her hands dirty, Lillian would put the chains on the bus tires before venturing out during the tough New England winters.

Jerry and Lillian were original members of the Eight Lakes Community, and were active in the Eight Lakes Community Association. A strong and independent woman, Lillian joined the Eight Lakes woman’s group, the Laurels, where she encouraged fellow members, many of whom were New Yorkers summering in Connecticut, to get their driver’s licenses. She could often be found teaching her friends how to drive on the narrow roads around Mamanasco Lake.

Lillian returned to school later in life with the desire to begin a career as a teacher. She graduated from Danbury State Teachers College in 1965 and began teaching in the Ridgefield Public School System in September 1965. Lillian was a dedicated teacher who loved her students. She taught 4th and 6th grade at Ridgebury Elementary School from 1965 until 1970.

She continued her education by receiving a degree in counseling from the  University of Bridgeport.  In September 1970, Lillian was appointed guidance counselor at Veterans Park School, where she remained until she retired in June 1990.

Jerry and Lillian began wintering in Florida in 1990, but always returned home to their beloved Ridgefield each spring. For over 50 years, their home on Scott Ridge Road was a place where memories were made and where family converged.  Jerry and Lillian loved to host family and neighbors for their annual Christmas Eve party, but could more often be found sitting quietly together at night enjoying a candlelit dinner in their dining room. Although they sold their home later in life, the memories they made there will remain with Lillian and Jerry’s family forever.

For the last two and a half years, Jerry and Lillian were residents of Ridgefield Crossings, where Lillian was an active member of the Ridgefield Crossings Citizens Committee and served as the Acting Secretary to the President of the Committee.

Among Lillian’s favorite hobbies was spending time with her friends – playing cards and Bingo at the Ridgefield Senior Center and Pinochle in Nokomis, Florida.  Music was another huge part of Lillian’s life. She loved to play the dulcimer, and her love for this stringed instrument led her to form a dulcimer group in Nokomis. She also loved spending time in her family room on Scott Ridge– teaching her grandkids how to play the piano.

Lillian is survived by her loving son, Steven Kehoe, Sr. and his wife Jane of Cumming, Georgia, and her devoted daughter, Kathleen (Kehoe) Santini and her husband Jay “Bugsy” of New Fairfield, CT. She leaves behind many caring family members, including brother James Kozlik and nephews, James Kozlik and Martin Kozlik; her cherished and devoted sister-in-law, Anne Marie Kehoe; nieces, Ginger (Kehoe) Agrapedes and Kelly Hughes; and nephew, John Clohessy.

Lillian was extremely proud of her five grandchildren: Steven Kehoe, Jr.; Marie (Kehoe) Kelly and her husband Chris; Maryellen (Kehoe) Girard and her husband Ryan; Kristin (Santini) Casasanta and her husband Marc; Dawn (Santini) Kornstein and her husband Mike; and eight great-grandchildren.  Lillian could often be found reading books to her grandchildren in front of the bay window of her Scott Ridge home, and was reading to her great grand-granddaughter during the final week of her life. Lillian is predeceased by her husband Jerry, who was unwavering in his love for her; her brother, Charles Kozlik; her sister-in-law, Virginia (Kehoe) Eschbach; her niece, Tracey Clohessy; and her nephew, Steven Agrapedes.

The Kehoe family would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to the very special and loving caregivers who doted on Lillian during her illness, in particular Sandy Tanner, Elia Batista, and Lisa Garamella. Regional Hospice provided immeasurable comfort to Lillian and Jerry in their final days—particularly Joan Thorburn.  A special thank you to Mary Harrington who helped our family through this very sad time. The staff at Ridgefield Crossings welcomed Jerry and Lillian into their community—and the Kehoe family will always remember with fondness the caring staff who made them feel so at home. In particular, we send our love to Jermaine, who made Jerry and Lillian laugh, who cared for them, and who cried when they passed.

Our Mom and Dad loved us, loved each other, and loved their family and friends, but needed to leave us to be with each other. They had an everlasting and eternal love, and when it was Lillian’s time to go, we are confident that Jerry welcomed her with open arms to begin the next chapter of their love story.

A Mass of Christian Burial for Lillian and Jerry took place on Tuesday, May 27, in St. Mary’s Church. Contributions in Lillian’s memory may be made to Regional Hospice and Home Care, 39 Old Ridgebury Rd., Danbury, CT  06810.

Mom and Dad,

We love you more than you know, and we will miss you.

Until we meet again…..

Love, Steve and Kathy