Schaumburg couple killed in crash, left behind quartet of pooches
Though a Schaumburg couple killed on their motorcycle on Labor Day had no children, a search is on to find adopters for the four dependents they left behind.
Mike Kelm, 55, and his wife Sue, 54, had taken advantage of the beautiful summer weather to go for a ride a couple days before Sue's scheduled cancer surgery. They were struck by a car exiting a gas station just outside Palatine.
While family and friends grieve the loss of the much-loved couple, they're also searching for a new home for the dogs the Kelms adored.
"They had no children of their own," the Kelms' niece Kim Mayer of Joliet said. "These were their children. And as much as people could spoil animals, they did."
The family wants to honor the Kelms' wishes that the four dogs stay together, while recognizing that might not be possible.
"They are their own pack," Mayer said. "They really take good care of each other."
The dogs are Anacortes, 6, a female lab mix; Cedonia, 3, a female husky mix; Tacoma, 7, a male lab mix; and Everett, 4, a male Australian shepherd-lab mix.
All named for towns in Washington state because of their owners' love of the Northwest, the dogs have clearly been mystified by the Kelms' absence, Mayer said.
"You could just tell they knew something was off," she said. "After a day, they didn't bark when other people came to the door."
Just after the crash, Mayer made twice-daily trips to Schaumburg to look after the dogs.
But as she and her husband live in a townhouse and are expecting a baby in a month, they can't take on the responsibility long-term, she said.
The dogs are now being housed at the Chicago Canine Club in Burr Ridge while the search goes on for a new permanent home.
Both Mike and Sue were ardent dog lovers who kept the maximum number allowed in Schaumburg.
But with the uncertainty that hovered over them after Sue's cancer diagnosis last year, they seemed to have quietly concluded these four would be their last, Mayer said.
Sue had tumors in her lungs, which were treated with medication and radiation. But when the cancer spread to her brain and began to affect her vision, she had to schedule the surgery she'd hoped to avoid.
That brain surgery was planned for two days after the crash. Even so, her prognosis was uncertain.
Mike had been a service technician at Lincoln Meadows Apartments in Schaumburg for 10 years. His unexpected death leaves behind devoted colleagues who are also helping in the search to place his dogs.
All in all, the past 10 days have been a very trying time for all who knew and loved the couple.
"My grandparents are still alive," Mayer said. "They're trying to cope, but parents should never have to bury their children. But we also have a baby on the way, so there's a light at the end of the tunnel. We're all people of faith, and I think that helps."
Anyone interested in adopting the Kelms' dogs should arrange an appointment by contacting Kathy Deets at the Chicago Canine Club at (708) 542-8969 or Kathy@chicagocanineclub.com, or Mayer at (815) 272-4583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.