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Remembering Sue Keller, and Celebrating her life this Saturday

October 7, 2021

Dear friend,

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. (more details at bottom of this message)

Sue’s obituary can be viewed here.

Sue Keller was a personal friend of mine, and she was a great supporter and friend to CCHCC. I want to tell you about Sue as we at CCHCC knew her.

Sue showed up at so many of CCHCC’s community events and fundraisers throughout the years (often bringing her kids along), and she always walked in with a smile on her face – a genuine and beautiful smile that let you know that she was truly glad and excited to see you. She lit up a room. She lit up our lives.

Sue left this world too soon for anyone who knew her. An ovarian cancer that had been in remission came back and ended Sue’s life. Sue handled her end of life with incredible grace, and with her hallmark concern for everyone else.

I was able to communicate with Sue over email in the months before she died, and I told her, “You are a warm and beautiful light – sunshine – in this world, in this life, and in my heart, dear Sue.”

And that is exactly how I thought of Sue – as golden light, warm sunshine.

Of course, I met Sue through my work at CCHCC. I don’t even remember exactly when I met Sue, but I met her through work on the mental health and social work side of our local health care system, and she was a wonderful, knowledgeable, and deeply helpful and always reliable resource person for me and CCHCC for as long as I can remember.

Sue grew up in Palatine, IL, and settled in Champaign-Urbana after graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Sue worked in mental health and social work throughout her career, from Crisis Line and the Mental Health Center of Champaign County (later Provena Behavioral Health and Community Elements) to the Men’s Emergency Shelter. After returning to school for her MSW, she became a counselor for the U of I’s Faculty/Staff Assistance Services. After becoming an LCSW, she also opened a sliding-fee-scale private practice to help those who could not otherwise afford counseling.

In the obituary that Sue’s family wrote for her, they stated that “Sue found joy in everything; if it wasn’t there to begin with, she would create it.” This is so true. Sue always brought the joy and the warmth.

This is especially remarkable when I think about all the mental health work Sue had done over all these years. Somehow, she didn’t seem to burn out, like so many people do. Of course she changed jobs and she grew and got more education, but she stayed in it, somehow, and she didn’t become cynical or burned out. Who does that?! Only someone truly amazing. Someone like Sue.

Sue was someone we at CCHCC could always turn to for help. On more than one occasion, I contacted Sue to ask her if she could recommend a therapist or counselor who could help a client of mine. Sometimes these were crisis situations and it was of supreme importance to make sure that the client was matched with the right counselor that could meet certain needs. Sue was very thoughtful and serious about this kind of consultation and she did her homework. And every time she got back to me with her recommendations, they always worked! For some of my clients, this match with an appropriate counselor, saved their lives.

Sue helped so many people in this life – in her quiet and steady way. Although I think of her as sunshine, she had also always been like a rock – strong and steady, and there for people (so many people!).

Sue was truly one of the best people I have ever known – an empress of kindness and compassion, a gentle and true friend, a beacon of hope, a sweet soul full of grace and mercy. Anyone who has been fortunate enough to have had Sue as a friend, has been made better for knowing her. This is the truth. Sue has surely made her mark on this life – very obviously in the lives of her family and all those who love her, but also on our community and in the lives of those whom she has helped, whether directly or indirectly.

Sue and her family asked that any memorial donations be given to two organizations that Sue loved and appreciated. CCHCC is fortunate to be one of those organizations, along with NAMI Champaign:

Champaign County Health Care Consumers
Web:  or

NAMI Champaign

Please join Sue’s family this Saturday for Sue’s Celebration of Life:

Celebration of Life
Saturday, October 9, 2021
2:00 PM
Lake House at Crystal Lake Park
206 W. Park Street
Urbana, IL 61801

To Sue Keller’s family, I want to express CCHCC’s deepest sympathies, as well as our gratitude for Sue and all she did and all she was to this community.

Claudia Lennhoff
Executive Director
Champaign County Health Care Consumers