Gayle Gene Kohn

Gayle Gene Kohn (also Konn, nee Hilding), 81, of Hinsdale, formerly of Western Springs, Kankakee, Clarendon Hills, and Oak Park, passed away peacefully at home on Aug. 1, 2023, surrounded by loved ones.

Born in 1941 to Harold and Geraldine Hilding, Gayle was raised in Oak Park with her siblings, Cynthia and Owen, and graduated from Oak Park-River Forest High School in 1959. Her blossoming love for language led her to Rosary College (now Dominican University), where she majored in French and minored in Spanish. Before earning a bachelor's degree in 1963, Gayle crossed the Atlantic aboard the Queen Elizabeth to spend her junior year exploring Europe and improving her French at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.

Gayle's remarkable 40-year career in education began in 1966 at Morton West High School in Berwyn, where she spent 11 years teaching French. Her longest tenure was at Central High School in Clifton, where she taught Spanish for 15 years and her students affectionately called her "Chaka Konn." She returned to teaching French at Morton East High School in Cicero and then taught both French and Spanish at Evergreen Park Community High School before retiring in 2009. Ever eager to learn, Gayle furthered her own scholarship throughout her career via coursework at institutions such as Dartmouth College, the University of Colorado and the University of Notre Dame. She even learned Italian for the sheer enjoyment of it, but speaking French remained her true passion throughout her life. Above all, Gayle loved being a mother to her only child, Timothy Michael, whom she paused her career for seven years to raise at home, a period she later referred to as the happiest time of her life. She adored animals, was an expert seamstress and fashionista, loved film and music, possessed a wonderfully clever sense of humor and cared deeply for family, friends and her beloved dogs Rambo and Suzette.

She is survived by her son, Timothy (Elizabeth) Konn; her sister, Cynthia Hilding; her brother, Owen (Gail) Hilding; her nephews, Charles and Andrew (Marissa) Hilding; her grandnephew, Jack Hilding; her niece, Mary Hilding; and her stepdaughters, Kathi Kohn-Goveia, Kristen (Bob) Mantzoros and Kerin Kohn.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Harold and Geraldine (Owens) Hilding.

A celebration of Gayle's life will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, at Adolf and Powell Funeral Home, 7000 S. Madison St., Willowbrook.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made online at