Colette Stermer

Colette Stermer, 90, of Chicago passed away peacefully on March 4, 2023, in LaGrange Park.

Born in 1932 in Paris, France, she was the second of two children of Rita Sciaky and Peppo Benveniste.

Colette arrived in Chicago in the summer of 1941 with her family and cousins. She went to the Laboratory School in Hyde Park, finishing high school in only two years by passing an entrance exam to the University of Chicago. Three years later she graduated from UC. In 1951, she entered the Art Institute of Chicago for a bachelor's in fine arts with a major in interior design.

Colette and Les were married on June 20, 1954, at Thorndike Hilton Memorial Chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago in Hyde Park. She worked as an interior designer for several years, but when Les joined the State Department in early 1957, Colette moved with him to Northern Virginia and this is where they started their family. She lived overseas with her family in Seoul, South Korea and Rangoon, Burma during Les's time with the U.S. Foreign Service as a diplomat. In 1973, Colette and Les returned to northern Virginia.

In 1981, Colette and Les moved from Virginia to Chicago for Les to take a role as the executive director of the International House at the University of Chicago.

Colette ran the gift shop at the I-House from 1981-94. Les and Colette moved to Kiawah Island, S.C., in 2001 for 14 years of tennis, painting, oyster roasts and potluck dinners with friends before returning to Chicago in 2015 to live at Plymouth Place.

To all her friends and family, Colette was known for her interests in painting, tennis and bridge. She and Les loved to travel, and she will always be remembered for her generosity and devotion to her family, as well as her world-famous chocolate chip cookies.

The family wishes to express special thanks to the nursing staff at Plymouth Place for their extraordinary care and compassion in Colette's final days.

She is survived by her three sons, Marc (Judy) Stermer, Dean (Rowena) Stermer of Hinsdale and Todd (Lisa) Stermer; and her five grandsons, Cooper, Griffin, Jackson, Mitchell and Davis.

Colette was preceded in death by her older brother, Samuel; and her husband of 63 years, Charles Lester "Les" Stermer.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 6, at Plymouth Place, 315 N. LaGrange Road, LaGrange Park.

Burial will be private in Falls Church, Va.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made online to the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance at

Sullivan Funeral Home in Hinsdale handled the arrangements.