Floral 10

Patricia Kaiser

August 7, 1945 ~ January 18, 2022 (age 76)

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Patricia Ann Kaiser, 76, passed away Tuesday, January 18, 2022 at her home in Lyons, Illinois with her family by her side. Pat was born on August 7th, 1945 and raised in Berwyn, Illinois by her parents Otto and Grace (Nikodem) Pliml. Her love of children started when she began caring for her two younger sisters.  It continued to grow when she started her own family.  This love for children led her to open her daycare center called Sunny Days Learning Center of Stickney.  At Sunny Days, families trusted her and her staff with their beloved children for over 38 years.  Pat treated them all with the same love, care, and affection that she treated her own family.  See Pat’s “Personal History” written in her own words below.  It clearly describes why she loves children and her calling into the child care profession. Patricia is survived by her children, Jeff Kaiser, his wife Sandra and son Benjamin; Lisa Fairchild and her son James; Christine Kaiser, her husband Jay Prospal, their daughter Nila and son Charlie.  She is also survived by her two sisters, Cindy Waltenspiel and Peggy Kwiatek.  She was preceded in her death by her parents, her brother Clifford Pliml, and her beloved husband of 39 years, Richard Kaiser.

There will be no visitation due to the pandemic.  There will be a private funeral mass for family by invitation only on Saturday January 29, 2022 at St. Pius X in Stickney at 10:30AM. Virtual attendance is welcome by all by joining this website https://www.facebook.com/StPiusXStickney  All are invited to join a Celebration of Life on July 2, 2022 with details to follow. Interment will be with her husband Rich at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, IL.”

My Personal History:

There were many influences in my life that helped to mold me into the person I am today. These same influences helped create my desire to work in the field of Early Childhood Education. I was born August 7, 1945 at the West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park, Illinois to Grace and Otto Pliml. The day I came home from the hospital, World War II had just ended and there was finally peace in the world. There were celebrations going on everywhere.  My mother always told me I was a peaceful child because I came home to a world of peace. My ancestors came here from Prague, Czechoslovakia in the early 1900’s. They settled in Cicero, Illinois. They sang songs to me in Bohemian when I was young, but I never learned the language. I had some dolls dressed in the native Czech costumes and occasionally we would see Czech dancers perform at the Czechoslovakian Society of America. Some of my favorite ethnic foods are pork, dumplings, sweet and sour cabbage, beef with dill gravy, kolacky, fruit dumplings, liver dumpling soup and apple strudel.  We often served these foods at family functions, such as weddings and holidays. When I was growing up, children were often invited to weddings.  I remember dancing to the polka music that is the popular ethnic music of Czech families.  It has a fast, bouncy rhythm and it was fun to see everyone bouncing up and down while whirling around the dance floor. I grew up in a loving family.  We spent all of our time together and always were given loving guidance and discipline. My parents were never loud with us but told us in a stern voice if we were doing something we should not be doing, such as fighting with our siblings or coming home late for dinner. They were strict in their rules, but we respected their guidance and I do not remember receiving any physical discipline, only verbal.  My mother and father always discussed big decisions and made them together. My family consisted of my mother and father, a brother (three years older) and two sisters (one ten years younger and one eleven years younger). I climbed trees with my brother and acted like a tomboy at times when we played, but when my sisters were born, I really enjoyed helping to raise them. I always enjoyed playing with my dolls and pretending to be a mom, but their births gave me the opportunity to play and care for real babies.  I feel that during these years I developed a real love for children.  Their development was always fascinating to me. My mom was always an “at home mom” during my childhood and I did not have the full responsibility of my sisters’ care. I had the fun of playing with them while she did the tasks of cooking, cleaning and shopping. It was great! I had a close relationship with all my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. My parents enjoyed entertaining and visiting. We were at a friend or relative’s home or they were at our home at least once a week and sometimes more. It was great for all the cousins. One of our customs was celebrating all the holidays with family members. We always celebrated Easter by coloring Easter eggs, hiding them, going to church, coming home to a big dinner, and an Easter egg hunt.  Christmas and Thanksgiving were also celebrated with family members.  Many presents at Christmas and decorating the Christmas tree and house were our ways of enjoying each family Christmas together. We also celebrated Stocking Day (St. Nicholas) on December 5 by hanging up our stocking the night before and leaving milk and cookies for Santa and carrots for his reindeer. We left a note for Santa to let him know how good we had been and a list of what we hoped we would find in our stockings was also included. My most memorable times as a family were spent at my parents’ summer cottage located between Barrington and Wauconda, Illinois. It was situated on a channel connected to the Fox River.  My father built the summer cottage with my mother’s help from the foundation to the roof. We spent every weekend possible there and every summer vacation also. Sleeping in tents while the house was being built was great fun. We had a well dug that we pumped for our water. We did not have running water from the city for a long time. We had a lot of fun as kids, but it was hard work for our parents. I also had friends my age that lived nearby. They knew we came out every weekend and they always came over to go boating or swimming in good weather or else we would go to nearby farms with our bikes. I learned a lot about farm animals from the farmers. Most of the time the farmers were too busy to talk to us but, they would let us play in the hay loft. We did a lot of swimming in the channel and in the Fox River at the Sand Beach. I acquired a great love for swimming. My love for swimming carried on into high school where I joined a club for water ballet called the Morton West Swim Club. I also took classes to become a swim instructor and a life guard. During my high school summers, I worked as a swim instructor and life guard at the local park pool. During the school year, I taught adult swimming classes on Wednesday evenings. My mom was a brownie and girl scout leader when my sisters were young. I assisted her on all the trips the scout troops took and helped at camp outs. This gave me an opportunity to work with young girls and develop a greater compassion for all children. Helping them to hike, build campfires, cook, wash their dishes, and build strong friendships. The experiences I had working with children influenced my desire to continue working with children. I married my high school sweetheart.  We met at my 16th birthday party (Sweet Sixteen). We had a house built a year after we were married and two years later our son was born. Having a baby of my own was a wonderful experience. And two years later, I had a baby girl. They were wonderful, and we were a very happy family. I worked as an accounts receivable clerk at Burlington Truck Lines before my son was born, but after I had children I decided to work as a waitress on the weekends. This gave my husband a special time to bond with our children and I didn’t need a baby sitter to allow me to work. When my son was 12 and my daughter was 10 we decided to have more children and in December 1980 our youngest daughter was born. It was great to have a baby in the house again. My older children adored her, and it was easy for me with their extra help. When my youngest was two, I decided to get a part time job. I looked around for day care but could not find any I felt comfortable leaving my daughter at. I told my husband I might like to watch children in our home. He wasn’t really happy about the idea of having daycare in our house but said I could start a center in a building or storefront if I found one we could afford. He knew how much I enjoyed being with children. After much research and acquiring the licensing standards, my goal to have a quality Early Childhood Center has led me to where I am today. I feel that my life of having so many positive experiences with my family and friends has influenced my career choice of Early Childhood. The desire to have the best early childhood center for children has opened my life to many new educational experiences.  Learning from people, situations, trainings, and college courses are among these experiences. Each one gave me the need to go further in educating myself, and the other people involved, in making our early childhood center a quality learning environment for children and their parents. The first step that I took in my effort to open a daycare center was calling the Department of Children and Family Services, also known as DCFS, to acquire their licensing standards. These standards allowed me to realize that my education was not enough at this time to qualify as a director of a center; however, I would qualify as an administrator. Since I needed a director for the center, I decided to contact my sister, who has a master’s degree in Education, hoping she could tell me who would be right for the job. I was fortunate since she knew of a friend with a bachelor’s degree in Education and an associate degree in Early Childhood Education. She also mentioned that she may be looking for this opportunity, since she was not very happy in her present job.  So, I asked my sister to set up a meeting. Our meeting went well. She agreed to start on a statement of purpose and a handbook for the center. I agreed to find a location and decide on a name and logo for the center. We both began to feel the pressure of this new business, since she did not want to give notice of leave for her other position until I obtained our DCFS permit.  If we had realized at the time the huge undertaking we were about to embark on, we might have given up before we even started.  Our goal of opening up the best early childhood center was foremost on our minds. This goal gave us the energy and ambition to work all day and sometimes through the night to reach our goal. I wanted the school to be a happy place.  Since sunshine usually puts a smile on everyone’s face and a rainbow gives people promise of better things ahead, the logo I chose was aa sun peeking over a rainbow. Following this happy logo would be the name Sunny Days Learning Center. This would be a place for learning, caring, playing, and sharing. Next came my search for the perfect location. I found a storefront that was great for daycare and the rent was affordable. In back of the building was a large parking area that could be turned into a playground. All it needed was a fence and installment of a nice, safe playing surface. The building was 2,500 square feet and was equipped with two bathrooms. It had large windows in the front and back for the beautiful sun to reign in and brighten the interior. Even though I thought the building was perfect, the village disagreed when I asked for the business license. The Fire Department came out and told us the many things that needed to be done. Fire doors, fire walls, and an alarm system with a direct line to the Fire Department were among the many. Also, flame-retardant ceiling tiles, which meant a whole new ceiling, and flame-retardant carpeting. However, our largest concern was when the Fire Department informed us that we needed renovations on the kitchen that would cost $25,000 in order for it to be safe for children’s meals. So, we decided to try a catering service. But, we still needed a person on the site certified in Food Sanitation, so I was able to take a course in Food Sanitation at our local community college, Morton College. Once I completed Food Sanitation, I enrolled in a CPR and First Aid class. This was the start of continuing my education as an adult. I continued on with some business management classes and an accounting class. All of the classes met in the evening and did not prevent me from establishing our daycare center. Now that we had a location, a licensing representative from DCFS visited our proposed daycare center and provided us with a six-month temporary license. She explained that we needed to obtain a loan with enough money for rent, utilities, food, unexpected expenses that may occur, and the equipment necessary to care for twenty children. She also told us that for the next six months or longer we should not expect to take home any salary for ourselves. In search for our loans, we found out that the banks are not very anxious to lend money to people who do not have any.  Therefore, we had to find relatives who were willing to give that bank something for collateral in order to secure a loan. We were most grateful to find that we had people who believed in us and our dream. There was no turning back now, we had too much at stake and we signed for loans that needed to be paid back. Everyone we asked was willing to help. They all wanted to see a successful early childhood center. Friends and relatives helped us to clean, paint, repair, and purchase items for the center. We had a lot of teamwork in accomplishing our goals. In addition to a lot of hard work, we had a little luck on our side, too. A local daycare center had recently closed, and the owner was excited to sell us many pieces of equipment, cots, chairs, playground equipment, and numerous toys and art supplies. This owner’s generosity was a huge help in lowering our initial cost. We were also fortunate that my father was a handy man, carpenter, and commercial artist. He built us room dividers, lockers, and remodeled wherever necessary. He also designed our logo with the sun and rainbow. He was able to work long hours, since he was retired. This helped us significantly in opening our doors as soon as possible. Not only did we accomplish our goal, but a special closeness develops when everyone works together. Our best memories are a part of this early effort. My family was a superior support to me through all the work and long hours needed to make this dream a reality. My husband encouraged me and made it possible to get our loans. He also gave me the working capitol to manage without a paycheck for many months. My children, ages 15, 13, and 2 years, also supported me even though it sometimes meant dinner was late and long hours away from home. I was especially helped by my two-year-old who was always an early riser and was with me every minute of every day.  She even happily tested all of the equipment and toys we purchased for the center! The administration of our center consists of my partner and myself. We hired a lawyer to help us become a corporation. First, we needed to have a name search done to determine if our business name was being used by anyone else in the state of Illinois.  After the search was complete, we applied as a corporation with myself as president and my partner as the secretary-treasurer. We are the only officers and shareholders of this corporation. We then received our corporate seal and Federal Employee Identification Number and meeting minutes were to be kept in our corporate book along with the by-laws and shares of the company. We really felt like an official business, but we also felt really overwhelmed by the business responsibilities.  This feeling prompted us to hire an accountant to guide us in starting our business paperwork correctly. Our next step was to acquire a staff. We ran help wanted ads and interviewed for teachers. Our ads were placed in the local newspapers and at local colleges, where help would best be found. We were very fortunate to find an excellent teacher and teacher aide after only two weeks of interviewing applicants. We also kept some applicants on file in case our enrollment grew. We explained our early childhood philosophy to our newly hired employees and gave them handbooks to read in preparation for our Open House in 1983. Our Open House was an opportunity for the community to see our school and talk to the administration and staff. We personally invited village officials for the Ribbon Cutting ceremony and the local newspapers for publicity. We had a clown, who had balloons for the children, standing in front of our center to encourage people to come inside and see our wonderful learning environment. Refreshments were served, and everyone had a great time. Our family and friends showered us with beautiful floral pieces and freshly baked goods. It was a heartwarming experience to know so many people cared. Our school opened with six students. We were very proud, and it was not long before the number grew to twenty. It was then necessary to purchase more equipment and have our licensing representative back to reevaluate our school for a larger capacity. She measured all the available space both inside and outside on the playground. She was helpful in advising us on our purchases and hiring more staff. She also made us aware of available staff training and organizations that would be beneficial for us to belong to for networking with other professionals in our field. We are to this day happy members of one of those organizations called the Pre-School Owners association, also known as the PSO association. This organization has helped us in many ways from finding new teachers to learning about new ways of teaching the children. We are also members of NCCA, National Child Care Association and the NAEYC, National Association for the Education of Young Children. Once again, I had the desire to return to college and continue my education. I was determined to acquire all the qualifications needed to become a director of an Early Childhood Center. I completed Psychology 101 and Child Development at Morton College. I transferred to Triton College and enrolled in their Weekend College to complete a one-year certificate in Early Childhood Education. The education I received gave me a much better understanding of ways I could help the children, their parents and the staff of Sunny Days Learning Center. I also decided to have all my credits evaluated by a counselor at Morton College where I had taken my general education classes following my high school graduation. It was determined that I only needed a few more courses to receive an Associates degree.  After completing the required amount of credits, I graduated in June 1999. The importance of early childhood education is finally being recognized. The media has brought attention to brain development in very young children. This information has prompted big business to get involved in funding opportunities for individuals in the early childhood field to further their education. The opportunity for teachers to reach higher goals in their education has never been better. Funding for food programs is available to help centers provider healthy, well-balanced meals. Also, funding is available for low income families to receive free child care or child care with a very low co-pay.  In the past fifteen years, our school has grown from six children and two teachers to two sites with seventy children and twenty teachers at each site. We also increased our service to include infant and toddler care. Our ages range from six weeks to six years. The demand is currently so great that we consistently have a waiting list.  Through our daycare, we are making a difference by giving young children a love of learning and at the same time shaping their social and emotional development. 

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