MADISON -Irene B. Katele died peacefully of metastatic ovarian cancer at her home on December 20, 2016, surrounded in love by her family and friends. Irene was in the compassionate care of Agrace home hospice for six weeks. She had been diagnosed with stage IIIc ovarian cancer in October, 2008. Irene was 58 years old.
Irene was a brilliant teacher and artist who touched the lives of so many undergraduate and law school students at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She lifted the souls of family and friends with her magnificently designed fiber art. Irene inspired us with her gift of clear-minded legal, historical, and personal writing.
Irene's most passionate creation over the past five years was her blog of family history, Amber Reunion (http://www.amberreunion.blogspot.com). She digitally restored thousands of family photographs and wove the threads of personal history and experience into daily posts until the eve of her final hospitalization and decision to discontinue further cancer treatments. Through Amber Reunion, Irene told the story of Lithuanian refugees displaced in Germany by the final months of World War II and tested by the challenges of building new lives as immigrants in postwar Chicago. Lithuanian culture, language, and values formed the bedrock of Irene's life.
The posts also illustrate with vivid prose and creative images Irene's undergraduate years at Northwestern University; her life in Venice as a graduate student in history; and the story of her marriage to Ray Bandziulis and life in Madison, Wisconsin. Students and grand occasions at the University of Wisconsin Madison frequently appear side-by-side with Irene's beloved poodles and with beautiful examples of her exquisitely colored knitting.
Irene faced her illness with bravery, concern for her family, and a constant positive attitude that was never defeated. A dedicated teacher to her last day, Irene showed us how to live with grace, hope, and dignity in the face of pain, heartbreak and the unspeakable cruelty of cancer.
Irene particularly thanked the UW Carbone Cancer Center clinical staff, especially Ahmed Al-Niami, David Kushner, Howard Bailey, Lisa Barroilhet, Kristin Bradley, Laura Huffman, Jessica Boucher, James Cleary, Kendra O'Connell, Joanne Rash, Michelle Small, Ryan Spencer, Therese Quinn, Jamie Wirth, Gina Levesque, Dawn Reininger, Laura Braman, Susan Casper, Jen Kakuske, Sondra Lisse, Katy Mijal, Sarah Stewart, and Kelly Strutt. You all made clinic visits exercises in love, patience, and kindness.
Irene and her family are very grateful for the loving hospice care provided by Agrace Nurses Ashley and Pat and by UW Health Nurse Practitioner Patricia Lohr. You are the guardian angels who made Irene's final days free of pain.
Irene was pre-deceased by her father, Kazimieras V. Katele and her father-in-law, Vytautas Bandziulis. She is survived by her mother, Dr. Elvyra Katele, husband Ray Bandziulis, mother-in-law Jean Bandziulis, cousin Raminta Nakrosius and her husband Algimantas Nakrosius, and her devoted poodles, Baci, Rex, and Poppy.
A memorial service is 12:45 PM on Sunday, January 8, 2017 UW Madison campus at Union South, 1308 W. Dayton St. Madison. A visitation will be from 12:00 noon until the service at the UW Union South.
Following the service, there will be a light luncheon served at the Union South.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution in Irene's name to the Gynecology Oncology Research Fund/ Program Directors Fund at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center. Fund Number 12902096. 600 Highland Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin. 53792
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I remember meeting Irene in 2008 when she taught Sociology 131. As an advisor for Badger football, I had a few student-athletes in her course. She made such a wonderful impact on the student-athletes and me that I invited her to be a Badger football "Guest Coach" the next season. Although she didn't call any plays she had a blast. She was battling cancer at that time and had such a positive attitude that it stuck with me. She always remembered me when our paths crossed on campus. Such a warm and delightful person. She will be missed.
Irene was a classmate of mine at UW Law School. So sorry for your loss. My condolences and sympathy.
Irene -- a fellow 1978 resident of Northwestern's 1900 Orrington dorm -- got in touch two years ago with lovely congrats for something I'd experienced that she'd read about. I came to learn how Irene personified grace and thoughtfulness, before and during her illness. My hope is it's always of comfort to her family and close friends that she made a profound, unending difference. As Jackie Robinson said: "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." Warm condolences & best wishes...
I am very sorry for your loss. It's so hard to lose someone in death. May the words at Isaiah 25:8 bring you some comfort. There we read of a future time when death will be swallowed up forever.
I considered Katele to be a great mentor, professor and friend. Of all my undergraduate and graduate instructors, Katele was the only one with whom I remained in touch after graduating. Her students and advisees adored her. It was customary at UW-Madison for students to applaud after a professor's final lecture of the semester, but Katele drew a standing ovation with roaring applause and cheers that blew everyone else out of the water.
Sending love and best wishes to her family.
I met Irene a few years ago when she was teaching criminal justice courses at UW. I was a senior auditor in her class and she was a wonderful, inspiring teacher. Her students adored her because she cared about and respected each of them. Her lectures were spirited, funny, and always right on-point. During this and a following class, Irene and I became friends, along with another senior auditor, Brian K. We lunched with Irene and got to know about her many passions in life. Even while struggling with her illness, she continued to be a bright spot in many people's lives. She was a wonderful teacher, friend and person and we will surely miss her.
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