Category Archives: Memorials

CCHCC mourns brilliant and kind activist, Kathy Oberdeck

We have been graced by the steady, compassionate, and righteous presence of our friend and fellow activist, Kathryn Oberdeck.
Now, it is with heavy but grateful hearts, that Champaign County Health Care Consumers and our 5th & Hill Neighborhood Rights Campaign is mourning a beloved activist and dear friend, Kathy Oberdeck.
Kathy passed away at home on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, after a fierce battle with a very aggressive cancer.
As in all other aspects of her life, Kathy faced her cancer and end of life with tremendous grace and strength, and with deep gratitude for the communities she had become such an integral part of, here in Champaign-Urbana, and across the country and the world.
Kathy Oberdeck’s involvement with CCHCC and the 5th & Hill Neighborhood Rights Campaign began over six years ago, when Kathy reached out to me and asked if she could attend Campaign meetings. Our meetings at that time took place twice a month and they were at Mr. Pelmore’s home in the 5th & Hill Neighborhood. Kathy started attending meetings, and was immediately welcomed by the 5th & Hill resident leaders, who were pleased that someone at the University cared about their neighborhood and their struggle.
From the very beginning, Kathy impressed me and the resident leaders as a very intelligent, insightful, resourceful, and generous Historian, who demonstrated the researcher/practitioner model, and who was also a sensitive, patient, and effective teacher, helping me, our staff, and the neighborhood residents learn about the city and the history of the neighborhood and surrounding community.

Memorial Service for Kathy Oberdeck:

Below are the details for the memorial service for Kathy Oberdeck.

WHEN:  Friday, June 24, 2022

TIME: 11 a.m.

WHERE: St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 2200 S. Philo Road, Urbana

DETAILS:  Out of concern for those who are vulnerable, the family requests that attendees wear masks. The family will be setting up a scholarship fund at the university in Kathy’s memory. In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, the family requests that any memorials be made to that fund when it is set up, to Sola Gratia Farm or to Champaign County Health Care Consumers


CCHCC remembers our dear friend, George R. Carlisle

December 16, 2021

Many of you who have lived in the Champaign-Urbana community for a long time are probably familiar with George R. Carlisle. George moved away from our community about ten years ago to go live near his sister and her family in Oklahoma.

Sadly, George died from COVID on November 28 of this year, in Bixby, Oklahoma.

George was a man about town. When George lived here, you may have seen him at performances at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, or you may have heard him sing in various church choirs. You may have seen him in older buildings in our community, on and off campus, taking photographs of old toilets and urinals, which seemed to fascinate him. You may even have seen him dumpster-diving after the students left at the end of the semester. And you would certainly have seen him at CCHCC events – at our holiday parties, community meetings, marches, and protests, or just hanging out in our office.

George was (as we say in Texas, where I’m from) a “character”. He was a totally unique and fascinating individual. He was a sort of gentle giant – tall and large with a strong presence, comfortable in any setting, and eager to talk.

George was most likely on the autism spectrum and he spoke in a monotone, with one sentence running right into the other, sometimes unendingly. But what he had to say was almost always fascinating and informative. George was extremely intelligent and well-read, and his interests were many and varied, and you could always count on learning something from him in every conversation.


Remembering Sue Keller

October 7, 2021

In July of this year, many of us – and many of our organizations – lost a true and beautiful friend.

Susan K. Keller, 53, died peacefully at home in Urbana on Sunday, July 25, 2021, surrounded by family. She is survived by her mother, Kathy, and father, John; her brother, Dave, and sister, Karen; her husband, Ron; their children, Zoe and Lex; and two grandchildren, Avery and Mateo.

A celebration of life for Sue will be held this weekend, from 2 to 5 pm on Saturday, October 9, at the Lake House in Crystal Lake Park in Urbana.

Read more about Sue Keller.

CCHCC mourns beloved 5th & Hill leader, M. D. Pelmore

July 1, 2021

Dear friends,

A mighty oak has fallen.

Champaign County Health Care Consumers and our 5th & Hill Neighborhood Rights Campaign is mourning a beloved leader and dear friend, Mr. M.D. Pelmore.

Mr. Pelmore passed away on the night of Friday, June 25, 2021.

For more than 13 years, Mr. Pelmore has been a resident leader of the 5th & Hill Neighborhood Rights Campaign. And he has been an extraordinary leader – strong, generous, kind, determined, and undeterred. Mr. Pelmore was sweet, welcoming, gracious, and nurturing to all of us working on the Campaign. But his gentle exterior belied his fierceness and tenacity when it came to advocating for justice for the 5th & Hill neighborhood – his neighborhood.

Yes, a mighty oak has fallen.

But even as we mourn Mr. Pelmore, we are also filled with gratitude and wonder for having our lives enriched and made better for having had the honor of knowing and working with Mr. M.D. Pelmore. I do not exaggerate when I say that anyone who knew Mr. Pelmore, and who was on the side of justice, had their lives graced simply from knowing this extraordinary man.

Read on for more and details about Mr. Pelmore’s service tomorrow – Friday, July 2, 2021.

My mom, and CCHCC

July 6, 2020

Dear Friends,

I write this message with the heaviest of hearts. My beautiful mother – Marja-Liisa Lennhoff Eskelinen – died on Saturday evening, the 4th of July.

My family is all down in TX, and it is heartbreak on top of sorrow that I was not able to be with my mom when she died. The coronavirus pandemic has made travel complicated, treacherous, and at times, impossible. So many families around our nation, and the world, are going through the same thing – grieving at a distance, and unable to bask in the light of love that is sometimes possible and necessary at the end of life.

I want to tell y’all a little bit about my mom, and about her love for CCHCC and the work that we do. This is not an obituary for my mom, but a bit of a celebration of a beautiful life, and how that life contributed to the beautiful organization that we all have built – CCHCC.

Marja-Liisa Lennhoff Eskelinen
My mom was a World War II baby, born on May 31, 1939 in Finland. Her father was a scout on horseback for the Finnish military, which was fighting Russia at that time. My mom’s father was killed when my mom was 2 years old. From then on, my mom had a very hard life – poverty, abuse when sent to live with another family, various illnesses including encephalitis, and more. But she was tough and resilient. She was a survivor.

Eventually, my mom was able to travel to the United States, the ward of a Finnish lady who was a domestic servant for a rich family in White Plains, NY. That Finnish lady is who I knew as my grandmother (she adopted the name “Mary Lake” to try to seem more American) when I was growing up. My mom arrived in the U.S. at the age of 15. She entered nursing school and worked as a domestic servant with her foster mom. Eventually, my mom became a nurse and worked at the White Plains, NY hospital, where she met my dad, Miguel Lennhoff. I treasure my mom’s gold pin that she received upon becoming a nurse.

My dad was doing his medical residency in White Plains, NY, where he arrived from Mexico. He grew up in Mexico after his mom fled Austrian Nazis. That’s a whole other story that I won’t get into now.

My parents fell in love and got married, and then had to move to Mexico so that my dad could finish his medical school. Both of my parents spoke English as a second or third language. That was the language they had in common. But then, of course, my mom had to learn Spanish when they moved to Mexico. And she did.

My parents had three children while in Mexico. I am the middle daughter in between two brothers.


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