Susan Custom

Susan Diane Cothern

June 26, 1950 ~ October 27, 2020 (age 70)


Susan Diane Cothern passed away peacefully at her home in Woodstock, Illinois, on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. She was 70.

Susan was born on June 26, 1950 to Walt and Betty Schultz. She grew up in Decatur, Illinois.

At the age of 13, she received the Girl Scouts’ Curved Bar, the highest award possible in intermediate scouting. Certainly, she embodied the characteristics of “go-getter”, innovative risk-taker, and leader, her entire life.

Susan attended Stephen Decatur High School where she was an honors student and National Honor Society member and was involved in many clubs and volunteer activities. She sang with a select choir group called the Modernaires and was also a member of the performance group Up With People. She played the piano and the guitar, and, in 1967, formed the folk music band, The Red Stools, with four other senior class members.

She went on to study fine arts and art history at Valparaiso University, later attending the University of Illinois;  Tulane University, where she earned an A.B. from the Freeman School of Business; and DRI International Institute for Continuity Management.

She began her career as a paralegal and retired as a corporate consultant in global risk management, disaster recovery and business continuity planning. She was principal of her own firm, Journey Consulting. She was previous Director of Global Risk Management/Global Project Manager of Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity for CapGemini/Kanbay. As head of a global team, she helped break barriers for women in leadership positions.

Her career, as well as her endless curiosity and quest for knowledge, led her to adventures across the world. She especially treasured her time in South Africa, Egypt, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Singapore, Australia and Bali.

Throughout her life, she continued with her artistic endeavors, much of it reflecting her deep spirituality and the wisdom she gained along the way. Adept at every medium, she found the greatest joy in mixed-media collage.

An active volunteer throughout her life, Susan was fiercely passionate about equality, social justice and humanitarian causes, at home and across the globe. She was a particularly loyal and committed advocate for women’s rights, opportunities and needs. Susan was always there for others in times of need, as an advocate, a comfort and a guide.

Her roles as a mother and a grandmother were no exception. She taught her daughters and grandchildren to be compassionate, to be brave, and to embrace their own unique gifts. She loved them deeply and unconditionally and brought magic to their lives. Always, they were enveloped with the scents of candles and incense, cooking and baking, and with art and music. Holidays and birthday parties reached storybook proportions with the talent and love she infused into them.

Susan is survived by her daughters, Colleen Cothern and Kelsey Gonzalez; son-in-law, Charlie Gonzalez; grandchildren, Jack and Jenna Gonzalez; former husbands, Randal Walser and Dan Cothern; sister, Nancy Johnson; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents.

Although she is dearly missed, Susan’s transcendent spirit and loving heart remains with us all.

A memorial celebration of her life will be held at a later date; if you would like to be included, please provide your email in the guestbook page or call the funeral home at 815-338-1710 to leave contact information for Susan's family.

In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made in Susan's memory to MoveOn Civic Action at (, CARE at (, Trees for the Future at (, Women for Women International at (, Heifer International at ( or Planned Parenthood at (


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