Kathleen “Kay” Subaitis (nee Shannon), 85, who lived in North Riverside for 58 years and whose devotion to the North Riverside Public Library led to her serving as a trustee from the board’s establishment in 1985 until 2015, died on Oct. 2, 2020.
Born Sept. 13, 1935, Ms. Subaitis was a 1953 graduate of Immaculate Conception High School in Elmhurst and was retired from a long career as the superintendent’s administrative assistant in Oak Park Elementary School District 97.
At home in North Riverside, however, she was part of a small group of women determined to establish a public library for the village, and not only convinced voters to create a taxing body to do so, but also convinced them again to fund the construction of a suitable facility.
“She was a wonderful co-worker,” said Annette Corgiat, who was also elected as a member of that original North Riverside Public Library District Board of Trustees in 1985 and continues to serve as board president to this day.
Corgiat said Subaitis was already working with the North Riverside Women’s Club, which had established a lending library in the basement of the firehouse (now a law office) at 25th Street and Desplaines Avenue.
“She asked me to join, and we put our heads together to find out what the town needed to do, and we got there,” Corgiat said.
The library district was created by referendum in 1983, and the first seven-person board, with both Subaitis and Corgiat aboard, was seated two years later.
Subaitis and Corgiat at the time were the “new blood” entrusted to carry out the mission of the North Riverside Women’s Club and Byrd March, Subaitis’ neighbor whose home had served as the “library” during the village’s early days.
“They looked toward us,” said Corgiat of the library’s earliest supporters and founders. “Kay and I just stayed with it.”
The village assumed control of the library and transformed the firehouse into the library in 1981, furnishing it through donations, including funds from the Women’s Club. Two years later, voters approved the creation of the library district, a separate taxing body devoted solely to the library’s operation.
In 1995, the library board sought and won voter approval to issue $2.95 million in bonds to build a modern library facility on land purchased from the Riverside Golf Club. The real estate negotiations involved the village, golf club and the Cook County Forest Preserve District.
The library board cut the ribbon on the new library in June 1999. Soon after opening the new building, the board hired Bob Lifka as library director. He would serve from 2001 until his retirement in 2014.
“Kay was a conscientious board member, rarely missing a board or committee meeting and always doing her homework,” said Lifka, who in retirement has worked as a freelance journalist for Growing Community Media, which publishes the Landmark. “In addition to serving on the library board, she was very involved with the friends of the library and the library foundation. Unlike some board members who only set foot in the library on board meeting nights, Kay was in the library often and stayed abreast of what was happening.”
Kay Subaitis was the mother of Rick, Cathy (Earl) Briggs and Dan (Judy); the grandmother of Shannon Briggs and Danielle, Alexandra, Hannah and Cole Subaitis; the daughter of the late Francis R. and late Florence Shannon; the sister of the late Frank (Joyce) Shannon, Barbara O’Neill, Jean (Frank) Cupp, Peggy Shannon and Jim Shannon; the aunt of many nieces and nephews; and the former spouse of Richard W. Subaitis.
Family and friends will be received at Conboy-Westchester Funeral Home, 10501 W. Cermak Road, Westchester, on Friday, Oct. 9 from 3 to 8 p.m.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions the funeral Mass at Mater Christi Church on Oct.10 is private. Interment is at Queen of Heaven Cemetery, Hillside.
In lieu of flowers, donations are appreciated to the North Riverside Public Library, 2400 Desplaines Ave., North Riverside 60546 or Mater Christi Church, 2431 10th Ave., North Riverside, 60546.
Arrangements were handled by the Original Kuratko Family, Brian D. Kuratko, director.