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Obituary: Kelleher


Stephen (Steve) J. Kelleher died on February 26, 2021. He was born on August 22, 1942, to James and Flora Bell Kelleher. He grew up in Weston, IL, with 13 siblings.


He married his soul mate, Sharon Gooding, on May 15, 1965, in Chenoa.


Steve was a loving and fun Dad of Kim (Kurt) Rhoda, Doug (Patty) Kelleher, and David Kelleher. He was a devoted Grandpa to Molly (fiancé Evan Jodlowski) and Abbi (fiancé Drake Runyan) Kelleher, Nic and Ben Rhoda, and Autumn Kelleher.


He is survived by brothers Ray, William (Judy), and Tom (Melinda) Kelleher, and by sisters Carol Kelleher, Kathy (Tony) Ruffalo, and Margaret (Tom) Lanphear. Steve was preceded in death by an infant daughter; siblings Bernard, Eleanor, Mary, Roger, Francis, and Pat; sisters-in-law Helen and Cathy; and a dear friend Karen Skaggs. He is survived by numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins including his niece and nephew Debbie and Jeff Jolly. He is survived by Jack Skaggs, his best friend, whom he met in 7th grade when he transferred from the one room schoolhouse in Weston to the “big” school in Chenoa. Steve never knew a stranger and has many lifetime close friends, including Dale Kridner and other wonderful close friends.


Steve was a supporter of Chenoa and Prairie Central sports and music programs. He was a lifetime member of the St. Joseph Catholic Church, Chenoa, where he served as a trustee. He served on the City Council, CASA Ambulance Board, and coached little league baseball and football.


As a proud member of the Plumber and Pipefitters Local 99, Steve was very skilled problem solver in his work as a pipefitter and as a superintendent of large projects. Humbly referring to himself as “a plumber,” Steve enjoyed his work immensely and returned to work multiple times during his retirement until he was no longer able to do so.


Steve was born happy, spreading cheer and belly laughs to everyone fortunate enough to meet him. He was known for his infamous “words of wisdom,” some of which cannot be noted in the newspaper. His most famous saying was “Live every day as a holiday, every night a Saturday night.”


Due to the ongoing pandemic, a private mass will be held for the family. Memorials may be directed to St Joseph’s Catholic Church, 225 W Owsley, Chenoa, IL, or to Canine Companions for Independence, 2965 Dutton Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95407. Duffy-Pils Memorial Home, Chenoa, is assisting the family with arrangements.

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