Kathy, age 72, passed away peacefully in her sleep at Essentia Hospital the morning of August 2, 2021, in her hometown of Duluth, Minnesota, after losing her fight with cancer.
She was welcomed home to heaven by her parents Peter Duffy and Nancy Duffy, younger brother Jim Duffy, and beloved son Alex Sahlberg
Kathy is survived by her sons: Jim Chadwick, Ben (Heidi) Chadwick, Peter Sahlberg, and her grandchildren Tegan Chadwick and Avery Chadwick.
She was born on July 14, 1949. She grew up in the West Duluth neighborhood of S 58th Ave W. and Redruth Street and graduated from Cathedral High School.
At age 18 she married Bill Chadwick in 1967 with whom she had her first two son’s Jim and Ben. Kathy and Bill divorced in 1974 and she raised her two boys on her own with the help of her parents. During this time she made her living as waitress for several years at different restaurant’s including the Highway Host and The Chinese Lantern. In 1980 Kathy and her boys moved to a small two-bedroom apartment on Park Point where they all enjoyed the beach, swimming and sailing on Lake Superior. She also completed the nursing program at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College that year and become a Licensed Practical Nurse. Kathy was quickly hired by St. Mary’s Hospital where she worked for many years on 7-West as a cardiac care nurse.
In 1985 Kathy married John Sahlberg and they joyously bought their first and only home together on the 35th block of Park Point. It was on the lakeside with direct access to the beach. They added two more sons to the mix: Alexander in 1986, and Peter in 1988. At this time Kathy decided to leave her job and stay at home to raise Alex and Peter, but she always kept her nursing license current. Ben and Jim had both graduated and moved out of the house by 1988. Her and John and the two younger boys surfed the ups and downs of life on the beach together in the years to come. In 1994 she lost her mother Nancy, and in 1999 she lost her father. In 2005 her son Alex tragically died suddenly and inexplicably in the shower after school on April 13th.
Alex’s death devastated the whole family, especially Kathy, and life would never to be the same again. She devoted much of the rest of her life to keeping Alex’s spirit alive. The inconsolable sadness took its toll on the family and eventually John and Kathy became estranged from each other. They continued a limited relationship from separate dwellings until the present. The official divorce papers were just signed earlier this year. Kathy mourned Alex until her dying day.
She loved morning coffee time and going out for lunch with her son Peter as well as visiting Northfield, MN to see her son Ben, his wife Heidi, and her grandchildren. She nurtured and cared for many cats and dogs in her home on Park Point over the years. She was especially fond of her long-haired chihuahua Rico and her beagle mix T-Bone.
She had several brushes with famous people over her lifetime that she liked to share: In 1965, Kathy traveled with her Aunt Mary Mega. She fondly recalled the Beatles concert at Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis as a teenager. As her story went, on the morning of the concert she stepped out of her hotel just as the Beatles limo was passing by. The limo stopped briefly in front of her, she touched the back of it and looked into the back window. At that moment, her eyes met Paul McCartney’s and he winked at her as the limo pulled away.
She met Wilt Chamberlain while working at the Chinese Lantern restaurant in the 70’s, and her last brush was meeting Donald Trump in Superior WI on his campaign trail in 2016.
Kathy was a passionate spirit with a strong personality that left her mark on everyone she met.
Thank you to Essentia Health doctors, nurses and all staff involved in our mother’s care during her time of need. You were all extraordinary!
Thank you to Jim Chadwick for caring for her, her home, and her pets over the last several years which allowed her to stay in her home as long as she was able.
A private burial was held by family on Wednesday August 4, 2021. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.