‘She was my best buddy’
Heather said she’s really not sure from where her daughter’s call to civic duty came.
It was evident in everything – from working on political campaigns and interning with the Channahon Police Department to her love of cop shows.
“She liked the ‘Law and Orders,’ ” Heather said. “All of them. Name a ‘Law and Order’ and she loved it.”
Samantha loved it so much she switched majors at the University of St. Francis, from nursing to criminal justice and political science. Heather recalled her mother remarking that with the way Samantha liked to argue, especially with Kevin, she should become an attorney.
But Samantha was aiming for a job at the Western Will County Communications Center as a 911 dispatcher after she graduated from USF in 2016. Once she was ready to apply, she wasted no time.
“She did it right away,” Heather said. “Paperwork done, training, the whole thing.”
Samantha’s preparedness wasn’t surprising to her parents, especially for someone who would fill out her daily planner up to a year in advance with all the days she’d be working.
But for Heather and Kevin, it actually was a relief that instead of being an officer out walking the streets, she’d be secure at the WESCOM building, away from the danger.
The job was a perfect fit for her. Samantha thrived in the high-pressure environment. She was a whiz at using GPS – one time being able to track down a woman who was assaulted in her car and thrown into the trunk. Police were able to locate the vehicle and save the woman.
Heather said Samantha loved the job and was even making plans up until the month or so before she died of going to graduate school to further her career in criminal justice.
Even with the atypical hours, she made time for other things. She took in a stray cat, named Salem, and spent a lot of time just hanging out with her parents. This was especially true when Heather was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2016.
Samantha rearranged her work schedule to take her mother to her chemotherapy appointments or be at home with her afterward when Kevin went to work. Heather said her daughter was very protective of her. Heather recalled during their daily conversations, Samantha would tell her things like, “Mom, I know you don’t feel like eating, but you have to eat. You’re way too skinny.”
Samantha and her father also made time for each other. She’d call him for random lunch dates wherever he was working his carpentry jobs. They would go shooting their guns at the range or check out the latest Apple products together.
“She was my best buddy,” Kevin said. “I mean, always has been.”