Shirley Knaus Kenyon

–  09/15/2011


Shirley Knaus Kenyon

Lombard, Ill—Shirley Knaus Kenyon, 84, died peacefully in her home at Lexington Square on September 15, 2011.

Shirley was born in Niwot, Colorado on May 17, 1927 to the late Daniel Knaus and Lillian (Wederquist) Knaus, the sixth child of eight. She grew up on a farm in Niwot and graduated from Longmont High School in 1945. Beginning in 1950, the women graduates of that high school class held a reunion every five years, and Shirley missed only two of those events.

She attended Colorado State University (known as Colorado A&M in those days) on a $100 Sears Roebuck scholarship, majoring in home economics, for two years. In 1951, while working as a secretary in Denver, she married Lawrence A. (Larry) Kenyon of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, a civil engineer whom she met at a Denver boarding house where they both lived. While raising a growing family, Larry’s career took them to Aiken, South Carolina; Wisconsin Rapids and Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; Marysville, Michigan; Grinnell, Iowa; Villa Park, Illinois; and Madison Township, New Jersey, before returning to Villa Park, where Larry was twice the city manager.

When the youngest of her six children had been in school for a few years, Shirley returned to the work force, doing secretarial and administrative work for doctors in Villa Park, lawyers in New Jersey, and judges at the DuPage County Court House, where she worked for 15 years.

Above all, Shirley loved people, music and nature. She was great at reaching out and connecting with people, not just family members and friends, but acquaintances and people she just met. She loved listening to music, and had the radio on most of the time, and when traveling in the car she used to hum snatches of tunes, none of them easily recognizable. One of her favorite places was Morton Arboretum, which she enjoyed touring during all seasons.

She was the author (with some help from her siblings) of Knaus Family Stories, published by the Arkansas School of the Deaf in 1995. It contains these stories, among others: “Chickens That I’ve Known and Coped With,” “Memories of Christmas Out on the Farm,” and “Bear Incident at Aggies,” which told of a college fraternity prank involving a bear in Rockwell Hall, the girls’ dormitory where she then lived. The book also contains family history and Shirley was always proud of her Colorado pioneer roots.

She belonged to the Community Presbyterian Church in Lombard, to a family book club which has met bi-monthly for many years, and she attended as many Colorado family reunions as possible. A lifelong learner, after retiring Shirley attended classes at the College of DuPage as well as several Elderhostel programs.

She was predeceased by her husband Lawrence A. Kenyon in 1991, three brothers, Dallas, Kendall and Gordon Knaus, and one sister, Muriel Miller.

Surviving family members include her six children, Daphne Kenyon of Windham, New Hampshire; Larry (Joe) Kenyon of Sunnyvale, California; Stephanie Kushner of Hinsdale, Illinois; Diane Gordon of Davenport, Iowa; Jeffrey Kenyon of Deerfield, Illinois; and Pat Rittenhouse of Knoxville, Tennessee; her sister Marian Berryman of Fort Collins, Colorado; her sister Roberta Olp of Downers Grove, Illinois; her brother Richard Knaus of Longmont, Colorado; fifteen grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. She also leaves behind many cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends, including her best friend, Dick Brandeis.

Calling hours will be held on Wednesday, September 21 from 3 to 8 p.m. at the Steuerle Funeral Home, 350 S. Ardmore Ave., Villa Park. The funeral will be held the following day, Thursday, September 22, at 10 a.m., at the Community Presbyterian Church, 1111 E. Madison Ave., Lombard. She will be buried in the Burlington Cemetery, Longmont, Colorado. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Morton Arboretum, or the St. Vrain Historical Association of Longmont, CO, For more information see



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