Kristine Slodounik | Obituaries | news-gazette.com

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CHAMPAIGN – Kristine Ellen Slodounik, 83, of Champaign died Wednesday, July 27, 2022.

Kristine was born on October 14, 1938 in Worthington, Minnesota to E. Marie and Henry Shirkey. After graduating from high school in Brookings, SD, she briefly attended South Dakota State University’s nursing program, then worked in Minneapolis for several years before moving to San Francisco. There she attended San Francisco State College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1964 and met her former husband, Herb, in an art history class. They married in 1965 and shared a love of the arts together. The couple moved to Decatur in 1970, when Herb became a photojournalist for the Decatur Herald & Review.

Kristine took photography workshops from Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park and studied ceramics at the University of Missouri Columbia and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Upon arriving in Decatur, she and Herb moved into a 1910 bungalow on East Main Street, where Kristine had a clay studio and kiln in the back yard and Herb had a screen printing studio in their basement. Kristine plied her trade and exhibited at regional shows until the birth of her son, Aaron, in 1978. The couple’s friends remember Kristine as possessing genuine warmth and quiet creativity; when it came to her art, she was adventurous and determined.

After her divorce from Herb in 1980, Kristine focused her energies on raising Aaron. She frequently visited the children’s room of the Decatur Public Library with her son and was active as a parent at Johns Hill Magnet School. Throughout Aaron’s childhood, Kristine shared her passion for the arts, fostering her interest in music, dance, theater and the visual arts.

Kristine re-entered the workforce in her late 50s, seeking positions that would serve her community. In Decatur, Kristine worked at the Community Home Environmental Learning Project and was a preschool teacher at Grace United Methodist Church for five years. In 2000, Kristine moved to Champaign, where she worked as an activity aide for 16 years at the Swann Special Care Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to people with developmental disabilities. Her colleagues at Swann describe her as knowledgeable, caring and dedicated to her work. She is remembered as bringing great joy to residents’ lives through play, movement and music.

One of Kristine’s passions was exercise, a habit that began in her early 40s and lasted four decades. She regularly jogged around Lake Kaufman and near her apartment at Round Barn Manor, a senior living complex in Champaign. During a memorable FaceTime call with her grandchildren in the early 80s, Kristine demonstrated her ability to lift a 30-pound barbell as part of her exercise routine.

Kristine was predeceased by her parents; his younger brother, Henry “Hank” Shirkey; and her ex-husband, Herb Slodounik.

Survivors include his son, Aaron Slodounik, his daughter-in-law, Laurie Slodounik, and two grandchildren, Amos and Ezra, all of New York.

The week before her death, surrounded by her family, Kristine was asked by her son what advice she would give her grandchildren about making art. She replied that Amos and Ezra should not be afraid of making a mistake, because in art, making a mistake is an opportunity for discovery; it could lead to a new path that they would not have followed otherwise.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Decatur Public Library and Illinois Public Media. A virtual rally and memorial service will be held in New York. For more information or to send your condolences, visit aaronslodounik.org/kristine.

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