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Country Club Hills woman took care of everybody

Darlene Gannserved Country Club Hills Ill. Fire Department for 24 years.  |  Supplied photo

Darlene Gannon served in the Country Club Hills, Ill., Fire Department for 24 years. | Supplied photo

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Updated: December 5, 2012 6:27AM



Some people just are natural caregivers. They comfort, support and bring dignity to those who need it most.

Darlene Gannon’s personality can be summed up in one comment from her mother.

“She took such good care of me,” Jeanette, 92, said. “Everyone said I’ve lived as long as I have because of her.”

On Oct. 17, Gannon, 53, collapsed on the driveway of her Country Club Hills home and died from a brain aneurysm, her brother, Larry Gannon, said.

Her death has left a void among family, friends and all who knew her, Larry said. Not only did Darlene look after her mother, she also was the primary caregiver for her brother, Tim, who has Down syndrome.

“She took care of everybody,” Larry said. “She was always giving but never taking.”

After her father, Francis Gannon, died when she was 17, Darlene took her mother under her wing.

Darlene was a graduate of Hillcrest High School and Prairie State College, where she studied nursing. After interning at South Suburban Hospital, Larry said, she joined the Country Club Hills volunteer fire department in 1982. During her 24 years of service, she also became certified as an EMT.

“She was one of the most unselfish persons I’ve ever met,” said her friend, Eric Hoffman, a former fire lieutenant who knew her for more than 20 years. “Her first priority in life was to act in the name of duty and humanity for the sick and the injured.”

Hoffmann said she was an on-call firefighter and worked occasional shifts, meaning she carried a beeper and would drop whatever she was doing and rush to the firehouse.

Growing up, Darlene liked to play softball and nurture her flair for art, Larry said.

She studied for a year at the Art Institute of Chicago. The rest, Larry said, was self-taught. Darlene painted murals on walls at both of the Country Club Hills firehouses as well as an oil painting for the Crestwood Fire Department.

“In addition to being a very caring person, she was also very talented,” said Lt. Mike Kilburg, of the Country Club Hills department.

He said Darlene made wood etchings and created portrait paintings for fellow firefighters.

Larry said, “She was just a nonstop kind of person.”

Darlene left behind three brothers, Larry, Tim and Eddie; a sister-in-law, Kathy; nieces, Kate and Kelly; and a nephew, Alex.

“She also had tons of cousins and lots of best friends,” Larry said. “The whole town knew her.”



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