Obituary: Susan L. Sharwarko | Nov. 4, 1951 – Dec. 5, 2022

Susan L. Sharwarko nee Nontell, 71, of Homewood died at home with family on Dec. 5, 2022. Hopefully they serve bacon and beer in heaven. Sue was born on Nov. 4, 1951, in Chicago to Joseph and Carole Nontell (nee Malikowski). One of four children, she grew up in a Worth, Ill., home largely built by her father, along with neighbors and friends. 

Susan L. Sharwarko

Later, she fondly remembered early childhood years visiting her father’s family in northern Wisconsin, fishing and eating freshly hunted rabbit (that part she didn’t remember so fondly). 

Sue’s father died when she was 12 years old, and a few years later her mother remarried Frank Gorka. 

A self-proclaimed “greaser” during her time at Richards High School, Sue wore tight jeans and a leather jacket, and greased her hair back. As a teenager she took classes at John Amico School of Hair Design and had already earned a cosmetology license by the time she graduated high school. She started working full time at a salon, but then she met Robert Sharwarko at a Bible study.

The two soon married and embarked on a life of cross-country van travel. During that time Sue and Bob worked a number of odd jobs, including at a cherry juice bottling plant, selling beer and concessions at a rodeo, and in the town of Silverton, Colo., where Bob worked at a silver mine and Sue was a waitress at the town’s only diner.

Sue loved music and was a musical person for her entire life. When she was in 7th grade, Sue won first place in her age division at the state accordion competition at the Illinois State Fair. An avid amateur vocalist, she was the lead singer of a band called Regency for a few years in the 1980s. 

Cosmetology and esthetics were Sue’s professional passions, comprising her 50-year career in the salon and spa industry. She pivoted from hairstyling to nail design and became a Certified Nail Technician. A lifelong learner and teacher of others, Sue also was an instructor of nail design at Prairie State College and at Ford Motor Company’s career academy. 

She went on to become a licensed esthetician and operated her own business called La Visage for more than a decade. 

Throughout her life, Sue connected with hundreds of clients and colleagues. She cared for their bodies through skin care services and consultation, and nurtured their spirits through endless listening, advice, jokes, wisdom, and friendship. She boosted the confidence of teen girls going to prom, brides and bridesmaids, and ladies going through the joys and challenges of everyday life. Many of her clients were loyal for years and even decades, following her as she moved on to new salons. 

Sue avidly supported charities and volunteered in a number of fundraising efforts throughout her adult life. Most recently, she volunteered with colleagues from Studio 305 Salon & Spa for a local annual St. Baldrick’s Day event.

One cannot overstate the impact of Sue’s influence on those she encountered, whether for years or only a moment. Forever a champion of service workers, she was a heavy tipper. Her warm, humble spirit disarmed and charmed everyone, including the hospice staff members who cared for her at the end of her life.

Sue loved caring for plants. She loved a great conversation. She loved cheeseburgers and biscuits and gravy. She loved playing dominoes with her friends. She loved her family, especially her granddaughter, Cleo.

Beloved mother of Samuel (Amy Windju), Carole (Timothy Dudik) and Jonathan (Danniel McCanna). Cherished grandmother of Cleo Dudik and Mati the dog. Dear sister of Joanne Radtke (Michael), the late Joelyn Kisha (the late Lawrence), the late Joseph Nontell (Catherine) and Jacqueline Maida (Robert). Loving aunt and great aunt to many nieces and nephews.

To plant Memorial Trees in memory of Susan L. Sharwarko, click here.

Prayers at Funeral Home
9:45 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10
Tews-Ryan Funeral Home
18230 S. Dixie Hwy.

Funeral Mass at Church
10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10
Infant Jesus of Prague Church
1131 Douglas Ave.

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