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Obituaries » Courtney J. Lakoduk Chicago – 4/16/2017

Courtney J. Lakoduk Chicago – 4/16/2017

March 12, 1996 – April 16, 2017

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Courtney Jayne Lakoduk

Born March 12, 1996 in La Jolla, California, Courtney Jayne Lakoduk — or CJ as many knew her — was a radiant light in this world.  A flame, burning fast and bright, lighting up the lives and paths of those around her in the most beautiful way.  Those who knew her best knew this light as the charm, wit, warmth, kindness, joy, goodness, humility and grace she exuded.  To know Courtney is to know an unforgettable soul; one the many who came in contact with will continue to carry through all their days on this earth.  Summing a life force as impacting and arresting as hers in words seems folly, and we can only hope the following sentences can somehow capture a glimmer of the light that was Courtney.

Courtney lived life without a sliver of pride, as if the accomplishments of the material world were less important to her than to the many around her who shared in mesmerized admiration of the life she led.  Though she would never admit to it, you would be hard pressed to find something Courtney tried and did not excel at in the eyes of others.

In the classroom she was a perpetual favorite of her teachers and professors.  More than the grades she earned, Courtney made her impact in the distinct ways she elevated the class in her astute questions and her contributions to discussions.  She wielded an equal amount of confidence and proficiency in her calculus classes as in her upper division literature and ethics courses; and so it should be no surprise that Courtney was pursuing a bachelor of arts in philosophy, the oldest and perhaps most noble of academic pursuits, at the very prestigious University of Chicago at the time of her death.

More than her intellect and a long list of accolades and recognitions she received during her time in school, Courtney was a generous learner and wanted more than anything to share the joy of wisdom with the world around her.  Courtney’s commitments to helping others in and out of the classroom, both as a tutor in high school and informally beyond, leave a greater legacy than any of the many awards she received, and give us all an example for what a truly democratic education should be.

She loved words, and understood deeply the power within them.  Though the list of books, writers, and thinkers she admired extends far beyond the length of this page, a few ought to be mentioned.  Catcher in the Rye, she read more than eight times.  She prized Camus; a portrait of Albert Camus adorned the wall of her bedroom during her time at UChicago.  And Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics changed the way she looked at the world.

She loved music.  From Bob Dylan to Charles Mingus to St. Vincent to The Smiths to Beyonce to Kanye to LCD Soundsystem, Courtney prized a particular kind of rawness in music.  The kind of rawness that exists in the space between the grit of Sarah Vaughan’s soulful voice and the restrained confidence of Francois Hardy.  Her ears discerned between the veil of authenticity and the truly authentic, and she appreciated sincere performance of all styles.  While public performances were few and far between, Courtney also had a beautiful voice — the voice of an older soul, that in earnest  reflected the music she adored in it’s humble beauty.

She loved art.  It was a love which took her to the great modern collections of the Pappadeaux and San Francisco MoMA, to the antiquities of the Louvre and the Getty, to the natural beauty of Versailles and Monet’s Gardens in Giverny, and then to Chicago, where one of the greatest collections in the world exists between The Art Institute and The MCA.  Courtney knew the sublime balance of a Rothko canvas in proper lighting and met the performance art of Yoko Ono with a sly grin.  She adored the portraits of Frida Kahlo and felt the pain of a dynamic and slurred Basquiat.  When Courtney saw, she knew and appreciated and lived for the beauty in all things.  And what she saw, she shared, both during her time working in the education wing of the Oceanside Museum of Art, and any chance she got to stroll through a quiet gallery with a friend or family member.

She loved the ocean and the sky and the sunrise and the desert and the mountains with a mature understanding of her place between them all.

She also loved coffee, that’s important.

Fashion meant something to Courtney from an age most still allow their parents to dress them.  More than clothes, Courtney’s being overflowed with style.  In the way she dressed, the way she spoke, the way she moved through this world.  It was a meticulously crafted style that left an impression on everyone who drifted into her sphere of existence, not only in a purely aesthetic sense, but also the way she was able to invite everyone into her way of seeing and curating the world.

When she danced she lit up the entire dance floor as her distinct maneuvers begged you to join in your own authentic way.  Yes, when she danced she was fury and when she spoke people listened.  More importantly, when others spoke Courtney listened.

Perhaps this was her greatest gift to all of us; those bottomless ears and eyes that when you spoke locked in like anchors as if what you had to say was the eternal and only.  Courtney’s listening was compassion in the truest form and the impression she left on those around her through that ceaseless compassion reverberates in multitudes.

Courtney’s life was like the artwork of Picasso: some of us got the blue period, some the rose, she was a cubist once, I am sure, and others got the surreal.  She lived with an unquenchable thirst for change and purpose, and the result was a constant reinvention of self.  She was Courtney and then CJ, and though she responded to both, most only knew one.

For as much change as she went through, there were of course constants.  She was the sister of Ashley and Lauren Lakoduk, the granddaughter of Larry & the late Audrey Lakoduk and the Rev. John & the late Marion Degelau and the late Harold & Esther Chase, the stepdaughter of Glenn Chase, and the daughter of Jan Marie Chase & the late Jay D Lakoduk.  She was a friend to many, a barista and manager at Ex Libris to some, a student always, and was admired by all.  When the bright burning Roman candle that was Courtney Jayne “CJ” Lakoduk went out in an instant on Easter morning, April 16, 2017, these are the people and the constants she left behind.  In her place is a jagged gash in the lives of the many that may never be fully healed or patched.  Yet through those same many her beautiful legacy will live on.  Hers is a legacy of such compassion, grace, kindness, humility, justice, style, and wit assembled in an all too brief 21 years on this earth that will pulse in the hearts she touched for all eternity.

Thank you Courtney for the gifts you bestowed upon this earth, may you rest peacefully now, awaiting our reunion.”


Cremation provided by Care Memorial Cremation 8230 South Harlem Avenue, Bridgeview IL 60455 and Care Cremation Center 515 Anderson Drive, Romeoville IL 60446. For more information call 866-912-9822 or visit us online at carememorialcremation.com