Catherine Mary Ullrich, 65, of Alden died Saturday, August 14 in the arms of her beloved husband. She came into this world August 25, 1955, to William E. Grunewald and MaryEllen Campbell in Las Cruces, NM. She was the second of nine children. Her creative spirit and talents were obvious to those around her from a young age. On May 24, 1987, she married her soul mate John Ullrich in Wauconda, Illinois. Through this marriage, Catherine also became stepmother to four children. Catherine was an accomplished American Contemporary Pen & Ink Folk Artist and author. She depicted her rural life of growing up on a farm in her many lithographs and children’s book. Her artwork has been exhibited in the Museum of American Folk Art, Smithsonian Institute, and galleries nationwide. She was commissioned by the President and invited to the White House as a featured artist on two occasions. Catherine was a collector of antiques. Her and Johnnie, as she liked to call him, visited antique shops, flea markets, and estate sales as they traveled; always finding a new prize for the collection. These collections fueled her second wave of art being mixed medium sculptures. She crafted fanciful creations out of her personal antiques. Catherine and John often traveled to gallery appearances meeting her collectors, but her favorite place was home. Her gardens were an oasis; Catherine used the natural beauty of plants as another artistic medium to play with. Visitors delighted in welded sculptures nestled in the baptisia or antique treasures dancing with the ferns. The gardens were magical, just like Catherine. She always tended and talked with the birds as she gardened and became their trusted friend. Spending time with her family and friends made Catherine’s heart happy. At parties and gatherings, you could find her on the dance floor, by the jukebox, or singing with the stereo. It was always a treat if she played the piano with her jazzy melodies. Her children and nieces and nephews were near and dear to her. She always took the time to make a special baked good for someone and never forgot a birthday. This meant a beautifully wrapped treasure that spoke to you, just so. Her capacity to love was large and she had room in her heart for many. She made every friend and family member feel as though they were the moon and the stars, and it was sincere. Her husband was her best friend and her everything, words cannot express the deep connection they had. Catherine’s joy for life was contagious and she tended each relationship with the same love she tended her gardens or created her art. Anyone who knew Catherine was blessed to have her in their life. She is a miracle who fought with strength, walked with grace, and was carried by faith. Her belief in God was unwavering and her love of Mary the Mother of God was deep. Her soul is in Heaven and the suffering is no more. She used to say, “even with this stupid cancer I am the luckiest gal in the world”. She will be missed, but her memory will be eternal. Survivors include her husband John Ullrich, four step-children Joshua (Christina), Margaret (Ezequiel), Emily, and Heidi (Brandon), eighteen beautiful grandchildren, Megan, Katie, Shannon, Charlie, Lucille, Paulina, Sebastian, Annalise, Lucia, Mateo, Penelope, Genevieve, Sören, Hazel May, Elliott, Alice Rose, Rowan, and Ambrose, siblings Michael, Rachelle, Mark, Jamie, Scott, Paul, Juliet, and John, foster brother Victor, much-loved nieces and nephews, Taylor, Jordan, Lucille, MaryRuth, Mark, Max, Evan, Eve, Ben, Steven, Sam, and Miles, and many great-nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents. A celebration of life will be on her birthday, Wed., Aug. 25 from 4 PM until the 7 PM prayer service at Saunders & McFarlin Funeral Home, 107 W. Sumner St., Harvard, IL 60033. The memorial mass will be at 11 AM Thur., Aug. 26 at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 206 E. Front St., Harvard, IL 60033. Rev. Steven Clarke will officiate. Memorials may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Catherine’s name. Call the funeral home for more info at 815-943-5400.
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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
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