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Gardenia Van Kessel, 82, of Belvidere, IL, departed this world for heaven on Sunday, June 10, 2018, surrounded by her “circle of love”, husband, Ronald; sister-friend, Beryl Hutson; sons, Mark and Douglas; and daughter-in-law, Joan. The family would like to thank the wonderful nursing staff in the critical care unit of Swedish American for their devotion and care during her final days.
Gardenia (Dee) was born in Hazleton, PA on December 3, 1935, the daughter of Edward and Mary (Pavlichko) Ryba. Gardenia met Ronald Van Kessel while working at Western Electric in South Kearny and they married in 1958. Ron and Dee made their home in Howell Township, New Jersey before moving to Rockford in 1973 and Boone County in 1990. Dee loved children and was proud of her many years serving the Rockford Public School District, retiring as school secretary for Dennis Elementary and Carlson Elementary Schools. After the death of her sister, Iris, in 1999, Dee became a devoted volunteer at OSF St. Anthony’s Hospital working on the second floor in the surgical area providing comfort to family and friends of patients undergoing surgical procedures.
In retirement, Gardenia loved boating on Kessel’s Vessel with her husband, sons and the great friends they met at Winthrop Harbor. Dee was a founding member of one of the first Red Hat Society groups in the Northern Illinois area, rising to Exalted Queen Mother with a passion for organizing teas, bus trips and educational luncheons for her group. She was an active member of the Center for Learning in Retirement (CLR) at Rock Valley College, enjoying their many courses, lectures, concerts and parties. Her greatest sorrow was losing her youngest son, Bruce, in 2016 but was grateful to her many friends at Al-Anon who supported her during that very difficult time.
Gardenia is survived by her husband, Ronald Van Kessel; sons, Mark and Douglas (Joan) Van Kessel; granddaughter, Savanna (Tyler) Plesetz; step-granddaughter, Trisha (Ramon) Posada; step-grandsons, Bradley Redington and David Hangartner; great-granddaughter, Gracie Vyborny; great-grandsons, Grant Redington and TJ Posada; and her precious dog, Tundra; as well as brothers, Edward (Barbara) Ryba and Robert Ryba; sister, MaryAnn Dziurzynski; sister-friend, Beryl (Michael Cavallone) Hutson; sister-in-law, Connie Giglio and Justina Ryba; brother-in-law, Russell Wanot; nieces and nephews, Diane Hagaman, Melissa Hoffman, Paul Ryba, Michelle Mehr, Jill Ginerfra, Jessica Martino, Stephen Ryba and Cheryl Waldhelm, along with many very special great nieces and nephews. Predeceased by her son, Bruce Van Kessel; sister, Iris Wanot; and her parents, Edward and Mary (Pavlichko) Ryba and in-laws, Cornelius and Lottie (Krul) Van Kessel.
Memorial Mass will be at 11:00am on Friday, June 15, 2018 in Holy Family Church, 4401 Highcrest Road, Rockford 61107 with Father Pierre Polycarpe officiating. Visitation will be held from 10:00 to 10:45am in the church vestibule.