Gladys S. Palach, nee Jirasek

Gladys S Paluch

More than 29-year La Grange and former 58-year Cicero resident Gladys S. Palach, nee Jirasek, 95, passed away peacefully in her home Feb. 28, 2022, surrounded by her family.

Gladys fought a long battle with congestive heart failure and was a 48-year breast cancer survivor.

She is survived by her three daughters, Karen Ann (Robert) Schramek, Sharon Simek, and Alice Palach-Spera (James); her cousin Arlene Biba, who she was raised with and both considered each other sisters; one grandchild, Shawn Spera; and many nieces and nephews.

Gladys was the beloved wife for 57 years of the late William (Bill) J. Palach and the daughter of the late Joseph and Frances (Rezabek) Jaeger, who were both killed in a tragic accident when she was only 18-months old. She was raised by her aunt the late Johanna (Jennie) Jirasek and her husband Joseph in Fox River Grove, IL, and later they moved to live with her aunt’s daughter, the late Helen Tabor and husband Thomas in Cicero.

Her aunt always made sure she remained in contact with her siblings throughout her life. Three of her sisters were adopted and one was old enough to be on her own. Her brothers were raised in St. Joseph’s orphanage in Lisle.

She is the last surviving sibling of seven children. They include the late Lillian Anderson, Helen Means, Irene Melander, and Eleanor, Jerry and Joseph Jaeger.

A 1944-graduate of Morton East High School in 3 ½ years, she worked as a secretary for the Government (Army) and later at Fairbanks Morse Company before her marriage to Bill in 1947. After marrying, they lived in the corner bungalow home in Cicero that Bill owned with his parents and started a family.

She was a dear wife, and loving mother to her daughters and wonderful daughter- in-law to her mother-in-law Anna Palach, who lived upstairs.

During her lifetime, her interests have included playing piano, roller skating, dancing, traveling, going on day trips, doing word puzzles, and watching old movies and TV shows.

Gladys brought the gift of music and dance to her family. Gladys and Bill met at neighborhood dance, had their first date at the former O’Henry ballroom; and continued to enjoy ballroom dancing at Czech dances and Willowbrook and Melody Mill ballrooms. She made sure her daughters received music lessons and dance classes while growing up and were raised in the Catholic faith.
A Brownie and Girl Scout leader, room mother and PTA officer, member of Wilson Homemakers and Berwyn-Cicero Council on Aging, she was also active in her church, Mary Queen of Heaven in Cicero, as an officer of the Marian Council.

Gladys and Bill moved to their condo in La Grange, which they called “Cloud 9,” in 1992 to enjoy retirement without all the home maintenance. After Bill contracted Parkinson’s Disease, they participated in a Parkinson’s Support Group and she attended a caregiver group. After Bill’s death in 2005, she became more active in the La Grange Senior Center, now Aging Well Connections, serving as Aging Well Ambassador for La Grange. She also participated in senior exercise classes at the center and walking classes at the La Grange Park District.

In addition, she was a member of St. Francis Xavier Church in La Grange, Lodge Pilgrim of Western Fraternal Life Association, now called Better Life; Czech Club; and former member of Lodge R.T. Crane, Jr. of CSA Fraternal Life.

Also, after Bill’s death, her only grandchild, Shawn, who has Down syndrome, filled the void in her life. She taught him how to play the piano by ear and by watching her fingers; read to him and had him read to her; sang songs, played games, did puzzles, taught him how to deal with money by playing store with the Tischler’s ads and the toy cash register she gave him; and watched him numerous times so her daughter could have some free time. They became very close.

A Memorial Mass honoring Gladys Sylvia Palach will be held on Thursday, June 29, 2023 at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 124 N. Spring Ave., La Grange, IL , Mass 11:00 A.M.

A Celebration of Life will be held from 12:30 to 3:00 P.M. at Hitzeman Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 9445 West 31st Street, Brookfield, IL 60513.   A Memorial Program will commence at 2:00 P.M.  Bring a fond memory or story to share.

Memorials in her honor may be sent to the American Heart Association, 300 S. Riverside Plaza, Chicago, IL 60606 or American Cancer Society, 1 E. Wacker Dr., Suite 1500, Chicago, IL 60601.

Information 708-485-2000 or

For those of you that would like to express your condolences to the family, please click on the link below and you can leave the family a message. If you wish to send a Sympathy Card to the Family, please feel free to send it to Hitzeman Funeral Home, 9445 West 31st Street, Brookfield, IL 60513, c/o the Gladys Palach Family. We will gladly forward it on to the family.

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  1. Glen Klecka condolence:

    Aunt Gladys has known me my entire life and treated me like her own son and I felt she was my second mom. May she rest in peace and enjoy her new life in heaven with those that have passed and we loved so much. Memories of her will live forever. She will be truly missed. My condolences to the entire family. Gladys brought GLADNESS to everyone. With sincere sympathy and love,her nephew, Mr. Orange Glen XO

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