Elgin mourns Kathleen Kenney-Mau, the heart of Blue Box Cafe

  • Kathleen Kenney-Mau, here with husband Chris Mau, co-owned Elgin's Blue Box Cafe. Kenney-Mau died Thursday.

    Kathleen Kenney-Mau, here with husband Chris Mau, co-owned Elgin's Blue Box Cafe. Kenney-Mau died Thursday. Courtesy of the Blue Box Cafe

  • Kathleen Kenney-Mau, the co-owner of Elgin's Blue Box Cafe, has died.

    Kathleen Kenney-Mau, the co-owner of Elgin's Blue Box Cafe, has died. Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2020

 
 
Updated 2/13/2021 3:04 PM

Friends, family and Elgin community members are mourning Kathleen Kenney-Mau, who ran the local Blue Box Cafe with her husband.

Kenney-Mau, of Elgin, died Thursday at 51, husband Christopher Mau said. She was taking a nap before going to work but didn't wake up, he said.

 

No autopsy is planned.

Since opening in 2014 at 176 E. Chicago St., the "Doctor Who"-themed Blue Box grew strong roots in the community.

The Blue Box became known not only for its espresso coffee and signature sandwiches, but also for its support of nerd culture. It's been a hub for live events, including podcast fundraisers, record release parties, live theater, improv, mini comic book conventions and, of course, "Doctor Who" events.

The Blue Box was involved with the Elgin Fringe Festival, too.

Kenney-Mau was at the heart of the activity.

Outside the cafe, Kenney-Mau helped youth through Elgin's First Congregational Church of Christ, her husband said. She also made time to help other people, including folks who were homeless or who had mental health needs, he said.

"She was just an amazing person," Mau said. "I was lucky to have her in my life."

YWCA Elgin employee Tara Morrison called Kenney-Mau "one of the kindest women I know."

Morrison said she met the couple through the Blue Box and became friends.

"Although, I think they treated everyone as friends," she said. "I am just heartbroken."

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Michelle Kinnun was one of Kenney-Mau's sisters-in-law. In a Facebook post, Kinnun said that people will miss Kenney-Mau's "big, beautiful smile (and) her funny wit."

Kenney-Mau was born in the Niles area but grew up in California.

She married Chris Mau more than 13 years ago.

Mau said he met his wife when she worked at Sears' corporate headquarters. She worked her way up to a middle management position, before joining her husband at the cafe.

"She was able to leave her job, and we were able to work together for the last six-and-a-half years," he said. "It was great that we were able to spend that kind of time together and do things and be able to bounce ideas off each other."

The Blue Box Cafe will be closed through Sunday, according to a note on its Facebook page. It will reopen at 8 a.m. Monday.

Visitation is scheduled to run from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Symonds-Madison Funeral Home, 305 Park St., Elgin. Face masks and social distancing are required, and current restrictions limit building capacity to 50.

A service is set for 11 a.m. Friday at First Congregational Church of Christ, 256 E. Chicago St. The service will be streamed at youtube.com/user/TheFCCElgin.

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