\nSusan Agnes (Walsh) Cocoma, 80, of Durand, Illinois, died peacefully on Friday January 5, 2024 surrounded by family and friends. Sue was born to Keron and Anne Walsh on September 19, 1943, in Rockford. She is survived by her five children: Anne (Mark) Pfluger, Chris (Liz) Cocoma, Katie (Chris) Bowron, Julie (Doug) Hammel, and Sarah (Stu) Friedman. With guarded optimism she married John J. Cocoma on July 31, 1965. They were married one day short of 54 years. Dad predeceased her by five years, and we are certain that he greeted her with flowers last week when she simply walked into Heaven.\n \nMom was a devoted sister to her 13 siblings and a dear and treasured sister-in-law to a certain group of “Outlaws” that were lucky enough to join the Walsh family. “Grandma” to Alex, Elyssa, Katie Grace, Ben, Hannah, Jack, Molly, John, Suzy, and Theodore, her beloved grandchildren, was a title she treasured with unending joy. “Aunt Sue” was another. “Ms. Cocoma!! Ms. Cocoma!!” shouted by one of her hundreds of former elementary school students never failed to bring a smile to her face; however, nothing sounded sweeter to her than hearing “Hi Mom.”\n \nHer Irish-Catholic life was shaped by her upbringing on a farm in Durand that had plenty of work to be done and plenty of sharing to do. Polio hit her family hard in the late 1950s, infecting herself and most of her siblings, before taking the lives of her two older brothers, Dave and Ed, and permanently injuring her sister, Rose, with whom Mom helped author a book about the ordeal, entitled "Triumph on Baker Road." Mom was fond of saying that “growing up we didn’t have everything we wanted, but we had everything we needed.” \n\nMom graduated from Durand High School in 1961 and from Edgewood College in 1965 with a degree in elementary education. She taught for 33 years, first in Rockford and then in Durand. In preparation for her retirement party, former students were contacted for remembrances. One described her “as the most beautiful teacher she had ever seen.” Another admitted that she would fall asleep wondering what fabulous dress Ms. Cocoma would wear the next day. The Village of Durand voted her “Citizen of the Year” in 2013, an honor that she reluctantly and humbly accepted. Her recognition as one of Durand’s finest was due in part to her tireless volunteerism and dedication to St. Mary Catholic Church, serving her community for decades with a brilliant smile and generous heart. In 2012, she was named the Rockford Archdiocese “Woman of the Year.” She was on the Board of Directors of a local food pantry, served as a Eucharistic minister, an Ecumenical council member, and was the co-captain of the St. Mary “Doom & Gloom” prayer chain. \n \nMom was an extrovert, blessed with the gift of gab, who loved a good laugh and greatly enjoyed any gathering of family and friends. She especially loved Walsh Family reunions, where she would “hash” with people named Walsh, while basking in all things Walsh. Mom was a resident counselor and therapist, proud Irish heritage warrior, yellow tube-top wearing weed puller, healer, and benefactor of favors, always giving generously of her time and talents. She had a black belt in listening. She was unrepentantly guilty of being too nice, to too many, too often. Of her several PhDs, one of her most favorite was staying connected with those that meant the most to her; planning for, anticipating, and attending a holiday or family event was another; smiling, a third. She was a good cooker. She baked. She would deny being a seamstress, but she really was. Mom will also be remembered as being genuine, witty, honest to a fault, dependable, and always compassionate. Empathy could have been her middle name. She was at her best in a crisis when grace, practical wisdom, and true faith were needed most. \n \nMom was first and last a mother, who loved nothing more than being surrounded by her children and grandchildren. She was the true center of her family’s life, a model of gentleness, character, and love. She instilled within her children all of life’s necessary skills. Her values of honesty, loyalty, and especially faith are indelibly etched into the hearts and minds of her children, whom she loved dearly. Always stunningly beautiful, she lived this life to the fullest and with great reverence for the next. And she did it all with humor and class, accomplishing most of it from within the expansive confines of the world’s smallest, largest brick duplex located in one of her most favorite places on Earth: Durand, Illinois.\n \nOur Mom was a true wonderment. Her passing is a tremendous loss for all of those who loved her, especially her five kids who never realized sadness could feel like this. We will never, ever forget her incomparable warmth, and we will never stop missing her. You only get one Mom. And all of us think, without hesitation, or even the slightest hint of bias, that we probably got the very best one.\n\nPrayers will be held at 10:00 am in McCorkle Funeral Home - Durand Chapel 101 Main St. Durand, IL with a funeral mass of the Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 am Saturday January 13, 2024 in St. Mary Catholic Church 606 West Main Street Durand, IL. Burial will be in St. Mary Catholic Cemetery. A visitation will be held at the funeral home from 4:00 pm. to 7:00 pm., with a scripture service at 6:45 pm Friday January 12.\n\nIn lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Durand Area Food Pantry, 408 N. Center Street, Durand, Illinois 61024. \n\nThe entire Cocoma family would also like to acknowledge and thank the fabulous staff at UW Health SwedishAmerican Hospital for their outstanding care and respect that they showed Mom and our family. Thank you.