Carol Jean Grzelak, 74


Carol Jean (Vernetti) Grzelak, 74, died on Friday, March 27, 2020, at home surrounded by her family.

Due to the current pandemic, a funeral was not possible. Her family plans to hold a memorial service to honor and celebrate her life at a later date. Furlong Funeral Chapel assisted the family with arrangements.

Mrs. Grzelak was born on June 28, 1945, in Litchfield, the daughter of Peter J. Vernetti and Mary M. (Balent) Vernetti. She married Alex Grzelak in 1978 at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Mrs. Grzelak graduated from Southern Illinois University with her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education. Her lifelong goal was to be a teacher. She discovered this passion while teaching special needs children at a summer camp in Kentucky. Mrs. Grzelak taught in Bensenville for two years and at Homewood Flossmoor High School for thirty-two years. After retirement, Mrs. Grzelak continued teaching part-time at Highland Community College and tutoring in Galena. 

The Grzelak’s lived in  Flossmoor, where they raised their sons. After retiring, they built their dream home in Galena. 

In her youth, Mrs. Grzelak enjoyed summers living in Alaska with her friends. It was here that she learned to hunt, fish and pan for gold. Her desire to travel lived on throughout the rest of her life and she spent many summers traveling the world with her family.

Mrs. Grzelak and her family were members of Flossmoor Community Church. Upon moving to Galena, they joined Crossroads Community Church in 2011. She was a part of the Crossroads Sisters organization where she participated in numerous church functions that aided the local community. 

Mrs. Grzelak took extraordinary measures sacrificing her time and energy to provide for her family and community. One of her greatest joys in life was raising her two sons. She never missed one of their sporting events or theatrical performances.

Mrs. Grzelak is survived by her husband; sons, Ryan (Margaret) and Evan (Stephanie) Grzelak; stepdaughter Cheryl (Tom) Hall; grandchildren, Emma, Lydia and Ava; siblings, Rosemarie (John) Fry, Irene Mueller and Robert (Catherine) Vernetti; along with many loving nieces and nephews.

Condolences may be left online at


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