Susan Kaye Mills Kovacs of Urbana, Illinois passed away on Thursday, June 11th, 2020 from Alzheimer’s Disease at the East Greenhouse at Clark-Lindsey Village. She was 76 years old. She is survived by her two daughters and their families: Christine, Theodore, Annaliesa and Fionna Merritt, and Carter Huff; Stephanie Kovacs Cohen and Adam and Zeke Cohen; Brother: Anthony Mills; Sister: Pamela Mills Knudsen; Niece and Nephews: Patricia Zutman and Zachary and Jacob Mills.
Susan Kaye Schroeder was born on July 3, 1943 in Ft. Snelling-St. Paul, Minnesota to Patricia Mills and Glen David Schroeder (Dave subsequently died in a plane crash in WWII). She was later adopted and raised by the man she knew as her father, Burt Mills. She grew up in Bristol, Tennessee, where despite her family's move to Ohio during her senior year, she graduated from high school, staying with Reverend Felty’s family. Sue attended the University of Michigan and completed a summer session in Hawaii. Sue then transferred to Ohio State where she was a member of Angel Flight with the ROTC and graduated with her BA in Education. Sue met Thomas Kovacs at OSU, and they married in December of 1963. Then, they moved to Champaign-Urbana in 1965, where Tom was hired as a professor at the University of Illinois. Sue took her first job in education teaching Home Economics at Jefferson Middle School, and Champaign-Urbana turned out to be the place she would call home for 55 years. There, she met her best friend, Karen Peck, and began a life-long friendship between the two families, as Karen’s oldest daughter, Lynne, also became best friends with Sue’s youngest daughter, Stephanie, born in 1972. Christine, her adored first daughter, was born in 1966. Later, in 1982, while taking a hiatus from the school system, Sue expertly edited books for Lois Haig. She also homeschooled Stephanie during her sixth grade year, teaching one semester in her beloved Mexico, while Christine excelled at Central High School and sang in the coveted Madrigal group. Speaking of Madrigals, Sue made countless Madrigal costumes, school play costumes, as well as the famous, double-sided vests for the Central Illinois Children’s Chorus (CICC). Put her at a sewing machine, and she could make magic!
After earning her MFA from Eastern Illinois, Sue continued her teaching career, first at Prairieview 192 Jr. High School as their Principal, and then at University High School as their Assistant Director and “Dean of Discipline” (thus, the nickname, “Top Cop”). Sue and Tom moved together to a beautiful villa in Clark-Lindsey Village in 2015. Sue moved to the incredible Greenhouse when it opened. She was the first resident to choose a room at the Greenhouse (a home dedicated to 12 elders with memory conditions) and she was there when Tom, her husband of 54 years, and partner in all things, died.
Sue was known for her extreme passion for being an educator, her honesty, and her fairness. She welcomed everyone with a genuine smile and a giant hug, and then she fed you. Her students could count on the fact that her door was always open, her ear always ready to listen, and her candy bowl was always on hand to help them during difficult days. Sue was so many things to so many people in her life. She was a true SuperWoman, and she made an impact on everyone with whom she came into contact because she was fierce, kind, and smart, and her beauty shone from the inside out, making her truly unique. In a world of uncertainty, three things are now clear:
1. Sue is at peace holding hands with Tom.
2. We were all so very blessed to know her and be taught by her.
3. Whether you called her Mrs. K, Suzy Q, Miss Mouse, Mom, Sue, Nosey Rosey, Subey Sue, Subers, Sue Bear, Suzy Sue, Sassy Suzy….or anything else…
for one extraordinary woman who could no longer remember...
She will be Remembered. She Will be remembered.
She. Will. Be. Remembered.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to:
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (www.alzfdn.org) or Clark-Lindsey Village (especially the Greenhouse Unit) at 101 West Windsor Road, Urbana, Il 61802.
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