CARBONDALE — Kathleen Ann Ricketts Shaffner passed away Sunday, April 28, 2019, while on her way to visit her son, Flynn.
She was born Dec. 27, 1951, in St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, to Robert Lee Ricketts and Jane Florence McHenry.
Kathleen, "Kat," is survived by her loving husband, Steve Shaffner; sons, Aaron and Flynn; grandchild, Liam; daughter-in-law, Penélope and her siblings, Sarah Jane (Dirk) Milici, Susan (Dick) Grout, Patricia (Pete Hurley) Ricketts, Florence (Chinmayo) Ricketts, and Robert (Senja) Ricketts.
Kathleen graduated with a BA in art from SIU in 1976. Beautiful, blue-eyed toughie from day one. Nicknamed “Mickey McGuire” by her father, on whose birthday she came into the world. She grew up in a house full of music and art which she took to heart and carried with her for the arc of her lifetime, a shooting star. One of gentle hands and fiery convictions, she sang like an angel and played on her “wide body” Taylor guitar, dubbed “Sally Steinway.” Rhythms were fast, complex, hauntingly beautiful as she accompanied herself at home, at fairs, and at gigs. Creativity leapt out of her in clay pieces, tiles of spiritual and mystical gatherings, and paintings infused with abstraction of color, theme and animal spirits. Most recently she'd taken to scanning and repurposing her paintings, working cut up pieces into beautiful shadow box collages. Kathleen was a rare talent. Loving both art and music, she excelled at both. Her Joni Mitchell voice was heard at many weddings, fund raisers, social events and art openings in our community. Kathleen also loved to kayak in the beautiful natural outdoors of Southern Illinois.
She met her husband Steve at a sensory awareness weekend at Touch of Nature in 1969. There were together for 50 years. Their time together was highlighted every year with a two-week camping trip at their cabin, “Camp Bullfrog,” joined by friends and family. This annual event was a festival of food, music and river time on the Manistee River in Michigan. All who visited remember Kathleen singing to the river at a beautiful overlook just above the cabin site. Her voice would drift through the white pine forest and over the soft river murmur to embrace all.
In the words of the family, "The outpouring of grief shown by our community is a testament to Kathleen. She so loved life and sharing with everyone. In her way too short life, Kathleen packed three or four lifetimes of loving and living. Her energy was infectious. Kathleen was a super Nova, burning way too bright and hot to be contained in this life. She was our community spark plug. Like a streaking comet across the night sky, she has faded from view. Those of us with Faith in her will continue to look skyward opting to catch a glimpse of her return “before we turn to dust.” Kathleen, we love you dearly and pray you have found peace. We don't know how we can live without you."
A celebration of Kathleen's life will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 1, in Hickory Lodge. Details about the event will be posted to Kathleen's Facebook account.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to Kathleen's favorite charity, Good Samaritan House.