Our dear special needs girl, age 67, departed June 6, 2021 with complications of Lewy Body Dementia. Kathleen was born October 27, 1953 in Zumbrota, MN to Betty (Stiller) and Bernard Markham. Kathleen was raised in Rochester attending Hawthorne Elementary, Central Junior High, and graduating from Mayo High School 1974.
Kathleen went on to learn job skills at ABC (Ability Building Center) trying various options mostly in the kitchen area. Her greatest challenge was wanting to fit in socially and skill wise with others her age. She lived for a short time in a group home in the Cities with great independence learning the bus routes for Minneapolis/St. Paul. She returned to Rochester, renting a room from a church member and working at Hiawatha Children's Home for several years in the laundry area thanks to Social Worker/friend Laurie. Kathleen switched gears as mental illness complicated life, and she began working at PossAbilities and again learning new job skills.
Her longest independent position in the community was in the HyVee deli department. Our hats off to Paul P who coached her feverishly so wanting her to succeed. Again, the stress of exactly "how to do" was too great and she was quick to tell many, even to this day, "I got fired!!" Attempts to explain, "the job may not have been the best fit," didn't negate her reasoning. One loved her blatant honesty.
During those years Kathleen functioned independently getting herself to and from work. She met Dennis Allen DeRaad during those travels, falling in love and getting married 12/10/88. They loved their independent life together living in various apartment complexes in Rochester. Dennis passed from cancer in 2003, after fifteen years of marriage. Kathleen mourned the loss especially when the best option then became moving to a group home for more supervised care. She was always on the hunt for another husband to find those freedoms again.
Following HyVee, Kathleen worked with PossAbilities teams within the community and at their site. Our thanks to Joel P who worked diligently to find favored options particularly Art classes for Kathleen, where she even won awards. As Kathleen closed in on her retirement years, she moved into the PossAbilities Day Program, lovingly referred to as Seniors. This program allowed Kathleen to shine!!! Luke (alias Duke to Kathleen) encouraged her in many areas. Kathleen continued to wear her multitudes of jewelry daily. The poor shredder at PossAbilites ate just a few rings. The praise Kathleen received enlarged her repertoire to include her musical talents with the guitar, piano, drums, maracas, tambourine, and harmonica so you never knew which would be brought along to Seniors and when visiting others. Kathleen also loved finding cleaning tasks there and often reported that "Duke" paid her $100 to take out garbage so she was rich!!!
If you asked Kathleen, her other talents included speaking many languages (one word in each met the requirement). She also was the self-appointed winner in many sports activities, bowling especially and a rousing game of Uno. Kathleen loved her outings and especially traveling. Search and Beyond, a chaperone program allowed those with disabilities to travel world-wide and so she did, with supportive parents, seeing much of Europe, Hawaii, the Bahamas, Disney World, Vegas, Dollywood, and her being an Elvis lover, Graceland was a favorite. Don't ask about her getting lost in Paris though, the independent soul that she was.
Another of Kathleen's great gifts was her faith, unshakeable. Two weeks before her major decline she was in church to the surprise of many, but not to her. Of course one goes to church, well learned from Dad. Our thanks to our members who were quick to greet her, compliment her on the choice of dress and jewels encouraging her motto why wear one piece of jewelry when you can wear it all. Kathleen was proud of her poetry book that a staff person once helped her type up as Kathleen dictated her paper writings to her. Her theme of Love, Christ, and Happiness shines through.
Kathleen was preceded in death by her husband Dennis, and her parents, Betty and Bernard Markham as well as many aunts and uncles. She is survived by her sister, Sandy (John) Rogness, nephews Jeffrey (Amy) Rogness of Lake City and Nicholas (Jennifer) Rogness of Rochester as well as grand-nephew and nieces Maxwell, Evelyn, Anna and Erin.
Special thanks to: Howry Group Homes, Coral House especially for giving her the space and comfort to be her own person and share times with roommates as if family, to Season's Hospice for the most compassionate availability to teach and comfort through this transition in Kathleen's life. Thank you also to those community members who reach out to assist those with disabilities whether with wheelchair help, a door, in crossing streets, volunteer time, or simply a facial expression of respect, understanding and encouragement to those who have extra challenges in life. You have allowed Kathleen's beauty to shine inside and out. She is one joyful Angel in the Lord's army now singing, praising with instruments, and speaking to all in her languages while decked out in jewels galore.
The service will be held 11:00 a.m. Monday, June 14, 2021 at Resurrection Ev. Lutheran Church, 4520 19th Ave. NW, Rochester, with Pastor Stephen Meyer officiating. Visitation will be held from 10:00 a.m. until time of services. Burial will follow at Oronoco Cemetery. Memorials may be given to PossAbilities Seniors, Resurrection's Day School Scholarship program, or to Season's Hospice of Rochester. Kathleen loved helping others. Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is honored to be serving the DeRaad family. To share a special memory or condolence, please visit www.ranfranzandvinefh.com
Rochester, MN 55901
Rochester, MN 55901