The night that Kristin Bachman died, staff members at the Park Lawn Residential Center lined up outside her door to say their goodbyes.
Ms. Bachman, a resident of Alsip, passed away at age 50 of uterine cancer on April 27.
She was remembered as a “truly amazing person that everyone at Park Lawn was grateful to have known” at her memorial service held May 24 at Park Lawn School in Oak Lawn.
Known as “Krissy” to her family and friends, Ms. Bachman was born on August 7 1961 at Ingalls Hospital in Harvey. She joined Park Lawn when she was three years old and remained involved in the organization as a student and resident until her death.
In many ways Ms. Bachman epitomized the organization’s early roots when families in Evergreen Park and Oak Lawn banded together and formed a school to provide educational opportunities for their intellectually challenged children.
“When she was about three years old I went out collecting for the March of Dimes in our neighborhood,” Ms. Bachman’s mother, Carolyn, recalled. “I came to a house where a family had a son who attended Park Lawn School, which was located in a Methodist church in Evergreen Park.”
Ms. Bachman was quickly enrolled in a class of 40 students that met in the Sunday school rooms at First United Methodist Church in Evergreen Park. Families raised money to build Park Lawn School in Oak Lawn. When their children aged out of the school program, families raised money for a sheltered workshop and then a residential center.
“I think the people in the 1960s who had children that were handicapped were the pioneers,” Carolyn Bachman said. “All of the parents at Park Lawn were a close knit group. The brothers, sisters, moms and dads used to clean the school once a week to make sure it was always gleaming.”
Ms. Bachman's parents became actively involved in Park Lawn. Her father, Bill, served as president of the organization's board of directors. Her mother, Carolyn, a former American Airlines flight attendant, organized an annual fundraiser through the Kiwi Club that has raised over $1 million for Park Lawn.
Carolyn Bachman said her daughter grew from an energetic toddler into an active adult. Park Lawn staff recalled humorous stories during Ms. Bachman’s memorial. After moving into Park Lawn when she was 21, staff couldn’t figure out how she was slipping out of her room undetected at night and riding the elevator.
“There was a camera so staff could see into the hallway,” her mother said. “It turned out she was so short that she danced under the camera and was going for elevator rides.”
Carolyn Bachman said that her daughter survived well beyond the life expectancy for persons with Cornelia De Lange Syndrome, a cognitive genetic disorder similar to Down Syndrome. Her daughter functioned at a toddler level.
“Kris was a challenge and a joy,” her mother recalled. “The staff at Park Lawn adored Kris. I have never seen such loving, hardworking people in my life. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
In addition to her parents, Ms. Bachman leaves her sister, Kyle Bachman-Johnson of Richmond, IL; and brother, Bob Bachman, of Mokena; her nephews and nieces, and many friends at Park Lawn.
The family requests that donations to be made in Kristin Bachman’s name to Park Lawn Association at 10833 S. LaPorte Ave., Oak Lawn, IL 60453.