Carol Jean (Brett) Pankau, 90, passed away peacefully in Lake Geneva, WI, on June 19, 2022. Her strong faith was a light for many and she attended daily mass, because, she said, it helped frame and form her daily life. Born on November 9, 1931, in Chicago, IL, to Jean Russell and Adah (Klotz) Brett. She grew up in Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood and graduated from Resurrection High School and the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL, where she studied speech, Spanish, and math; was active in theater productions; and was crowned Miss St. Francis. She graduated in 1953, and remained lifelong friends with many of her St. Francis classmates and later, their families.
She married Ronald J. Pankau on January 28, 1956, at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, and they shared over 61 adventurous years together nurturing their ever-growing family, their love of travel, and managing their family business, Pankau Pharmacy. Carol and Ron started their family in Niles before moving to Park Ridge, IL. She was an active member of St. Paul of the Cross Parish where she was part of the Social Services and Bereavement Ministries. She was a lifelong teacher and spent various parts of her career at Schiller Park School, Notre Dame High School for Girls, and St.Tarcissus Elementary School.
In 1988, Carol and Ron moved full-time to their home in Lake Geneva, WI. Carol taught at St. Francis de Sales School for several years and then was a substitute teacher for the Big Foot Area Schools until she was well into her eighties.
At St. Francis de Sales, she served on the Human Concerns Committee and was a member of the Parish Council. She also was active in Side By Side, a local non-profit that helps people with emergency expenses. She treasured her friends in the Laker Ladies Book Club, of which she was a member for over 18 years, and they not only shared lively book discussions, but shared life and friendship.
Carol is survived by her daughter-in-law Teri Overbaugh Pankau of Galva; children, Claudia (Paul) Ericson of Fontana; Brett (Kathy) of Lombard; Ted (Mary Jo) of Lake Geneva; Jack (Kathy) of Bolingbrook; Russell (Marjorie) of Norridge, Neil (Betsy) of Gurnee; Marty (Kelly Hartman) of Chicago and Williams Bay; Glenn (Katy) of Winnetka; and Carol M. Thompson (Ed) of Wheeling.
She is also survived by her grandchildren Matt (Jill); Paul R. (Ari), Anders, Ellen, and Sonja Ericson; Brett (Meghan), Jason (Hope), Kevin, Taylor, Erin (Trevor) McEvoy, Lee (Christine), Brooke (Chris) Adams, Jackie (Chris) Daniels, Cole, Allison, Stella, Olivia, Luke, Jacob, Misha, Zara, Dean, and Amelia Pankau; bonus grandchildren Tara Gracer; and Ashley, Evan, and Cecelia Thompson; and great-grandchildren Isak, Olin, and Ronnie Finn Ericson; Emmett, Eve, Gavin, Nolan, Hazel, and Sebastian Pankau; Ada and Pauline McEvoy, and Payton Adams.
In addition, she is survived by her dear sister-in-law, Carol Ruth Brett, and many loved nieces and nephews.
Carol was preceded in death by her husband, Ronald J.; son, Ronald A.; brother, Jean Russell (Buddy) Brett; her parents, Jean Russell and Adah Brett; sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law Elmer and Audrey Pankau, Warren and Allison Pankau, Robert and Louise Pankau, and Ralph and Jackie Erickson.
Visitation will be Thursday, June 23rd, 4-8 p.m. at Derrick Funeral Home. Funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Friday, June 24th at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Lake Geneva. Luncheon at St. Francis de Sales Parish Hall will follow the mass.
Memorials may be made to Lake Geneva’s Side By Side (715 Wisconsin Street, Lake Geneva, WI 53147) or St. Francis de Sales Parish School Angel Fund. Links have been provided below.
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