Patricia Sibley

Patricia Sibley, 76, of Hinckley, formerly of Kaneville, passed away on Saturday evening, March 21, 2009, at the home of her daughter in Romeoville, Ill., and surrounded by the love of her family.

Pat was born Sept. 11, 1932, in Louisville, Ken., the daughter of Clarence T. and Anna L. (Murray) Smith.

Pat grew up in Louisville, Ken., and attended Loretto High School graduation in 1950. She went on to earn an RN degree, graduating from Nazareth School of Nursing in Louisville in 1953.

While raising a family of eight, she went back to college and graduated Magnum Cum Laude with a B.A. in nursing from Northern Illinois University in 1982.

Pat was united in marriage to Charles Sibley of Lincoln, Neb., in October 1955 in Louisville. They made their home in several towns across the Midwest, including Omaha Neb., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Chicago, Lombard, Ill., and Kaneville, before making her final home in Hinckley. All eight children attended and graduated from Kaneland High School.

In addition to her love of family and community, Pat found her passion in nursing and specialized in the care of paraplegic and quadriplegic veterans at the V.A. Hines Hospital in Maywood, Ill. At Hines, Pat was instrumental in the care and research of spinal cord injuries. Pat was one of the founders of the Nurses of the Veterans Administration Association (NOVA) and co-founder of the American Association of Spinal Cord Injury Nurses (AASCA). Several of Pat’s research and works were published in scientific journals. She retired from the V.A. in 1998.

Pat was a faithful member and Lector of St. Gall Church in Elburn, and dedicated many years to various Catholic ministries, including the RCIA. She was a member of the Hinckley Homemakers, YMCA and The Life Long Learning program at Northern Illinois University. Always one to give back to her community in various ways, Pat was also elected to the Kaneville Township Library Board, as well as the Kane County Library Board and was a strong supporter of Hinckley Library. Wherever she served, she helped to raise the awareness, visibility and viability of the libraries.

Pat’s faith and passion for life created positive influences on the people she met. She was the matriarch of the family. Her strength and perseverance was evident in everything she did and was an example of what a “mom” should be to her eight children. Pat worked at night, raised her family and attended Northern Illinois University, graduating with honors in 1992. Pat was instrumental in bringing positive change to disabled veterans. Pat strove to correct disparities in treatment and rehabilitation of severely injured veterans. Pat’s significant contribution to veteran care was her emphasis on returning and restoring the disabled veterans to their families and communities, instead of facing a lifetime in a hospital ward.

Following her retirement from the Veterans Administration, Pat became the consummate traveler. Whether it was traveling on camels across the desert, backpacking through the Swiss Alps and much of France, riding elephants in Nepal, attending Shakespeare festivals here and abroad, being on the maiden flight of Buddha Air and seeing the Himalayas from a much different perspective, traveling to Alaska and taking the St. Paul Tour around the Greek Islands, Pat filled her passport with stamps and made enough memories to fill two lifetimes.

She was a lover of music, especially opera. She had season tickets to the Chicago Symphony Opera and reveled in its music and drama as the brilliance of Mozart, Puccini and the traditional Italian Opera washed over her time and time again. An avid reader, Pat loved to disappear into the twists and turns of traditional mysteries, though she could be just as thrilled with 18th century literature and volumes on American history.

Above all else, her faith and family were her bedrock. There was nothing that she wouldn’t do for her children and grandchildren. It didn’t matter if you called at 2 a.m., she would travel across state lines just to be able to help in a time of need. The same could be said of the friendships that she attracted like Velcro. It only took a few moments for a stranger to become a friend, and there was none better than Pat. Her generosity of time, spirit and vast knowledge was a gift she gave freely. Pat was definitely one-of-a-kind, and though no one will ever be able to walk in her considerable footsteps, her memory and legacy will forever live in the hearts of those she loved.

She leaves eight children, Julia (Ron) Mical, Steve (Susan) Sibley, Tim (Priscille) Sibley, Mark Sibley, Peg (Curt) Braffet, Patrick (Mandy Fenske) Sibley, Michele (Roland) Gonzales and Lee Anne (Steve Berry) Sibley; 12 grandchildren, Robert, Ethan and Cole Sibley, Meghan, Kristen and Kayla Braffet, Ann and Olivia Sibley, Marco and Mateo Gonzales and Julien, Morgan and Madelynn Sibley; two great-grandchildren, Mia and Seivan Braffet; one brother, Richard Smith of Tampa, Fla., and a world filled with family and friends.

She now joins her parents, husband Charles and her beloved sister, Rita Smith Herr.

Visitation was held Tuesday, March 24, with a wake service concluding the visitation at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St. in Elburn. A mass celebrating her life began with a visitation at St. Gall Catholic Church in Elburn until the time of mass on March 25. The Rev. Fr. Karl Ganss, pastor of the church, officiated, and interment followed at St. Gall Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in her name to benefit her favorite charities. Checks may be made to the “Pat Sibley Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119. Tributes and memories may also be forwarded to the family at the same address or through www.conleycare.com.