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Local News

An Extraordinary Life: Minooka teacher remember for strength, humor

Minooka high school math teacher was a life force to all

MINOOKA – Kelly Brozovich of Minooka will never forget the day an ambulance took her best friend Shawn Capodice from the Capodice’s Minooka home to the Joliet Area Community Hospice.

Sitting up front was Shawn’s husband, Brian Capodice, who kept turning around to check on Shawn, Kelly said. Finally Shawn blurted out, “Will someone tell him I’m fine?”

“That got everyone laughing,” Kelly said.

But Shawn always told the funniest one-liners, Kelly said. Her tagline was, “I’m the dude.” In some respects, Shawn wasn’t far off.

“She was so strong,” Kelly said.

When Shawn died Sept. 21 at the age of 48 from a rare cancer, her family and friends lost someone dear, but Minooka Community High School lost a dedicated math teacher who had given 21 years of herself to the school and had served as the department’s instructional leader.

Yet, it wasn’t just the students that learned from Shawn.

Laura Grozik, a math teacher at the school, called Shawn a “force of positive energy, always smiling, always happy.”

“She was the instructional leader when Minooka was growing really fast and had to hire a lot of teachers right away,” Laura said. “She always picked teachers that she thought would not only be a good fit for the classroom, but would be a good fit with the other math teachers, that would be team players. She taught us to be great in the classroom, and to work together as a family.”

When Shawn became sick, Laura said the teachers sold T-shirts that read “Caps Crew.” Earlier this month, the school’s varsity football team along with John and Joanne Carnagio, friends of the family and owners of the Channahon McDonald’s, also hosted a fundraiser at the restaurant.

Establishing a scholarship in Shawn’s name with those funds is being discussed, Brian said. He feels Shawn would support anything to further a student’s education.

Brian, who sent roses to Shawn every first day of school, said Shawn constantly devised ways to make math come alive for her students.

“The kids always said math was fun,” Brian said, “because they could relate to it in the real world.”

In 2002, Shawn, who told Brian he was her soul mate and best friend early in their relationship, began periodically developing tumors that were removed and declared benign. In 2013, Shawn and Brian learned the truth.

Those tumors were actually angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma, a rare soft tissue tumor.  Doctors told Shaw the tumors were aggressive and that she had six months to live. Brian said he prayed for a miracle every single day. For a time, they received one.

During Shawn’s grueling battle, she had episodes of wellness. So she and Brian traveled around the United States and to Mexico. They even snorkeled together, holding hands underwater.

Brian said he never wanted to be apart from this beautiful, intelligent, devoted and loving woman and shared an incident that proved it.

He was 32 when he worked as the regional manager of a company that required him to spend weekends in Michigan. He told his employer if this separation from his family continued, he would quit. And he did.

After that he took his family on vacation to Florida. While boating in the Gulf of Mexico, among the dolphins, Brian said he decided to buy a Morris car wash, which he named Dolphin Car Wash & Detailing Center.

“I wanted to remember this day forever,” Brian said, “with my children and my wife.”

To feature someone in “An Extraordinary Life,” contact Denise M. Baran-Unland at 815-280-4122 or dunland@shawmedia.com.

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