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United Way leader dies after battle with cancer

Battle with cancer lasted month

Published: Saturday, April 26, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, April 28, 2014 10:16 a.m. CDT
(Crystal Kalebaugh)
Sue Hohlen

DIXON – On March 30, Sue Hohlen, executive director of United Way of Lee County, let her Facebook friends know that she had some very bad news: She had cancer.

“My worst nightmare came true,” she wrote. “I will start treatment, we think, Friday and there is no doubt in my mind I will beat it. Not a journey I want to take, but it’s just a bend in the road.”

On Thursday, Hohlen, 49, died at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria. Since 2006 she had been director of United Way, where she volunteered for many local groups.

Her husband, Kent Hohlen, posted to her Facebook page on Thursday.

“Her battle with cancer was very short (1 month), and no one is more shocked than her family at how quickly she lost the battle.”

The cancer, he said, was very advanced by the time it was detected.

“She had been feeling tired for a couple of weeks, ...” Kent said. “Not once did I hear her ask, ‘Why me?’ The only regret she said to me was she wouldn’t get to see her kids graduate, get married and have kids.”

Kent and Sue dated for 5 years, getting married in May 1985, nearly 29 years ago.

“All together it was almost 34 years,” he wrote on Facebook. “Not nearly enough.”

Her children are Justin Hohlen of Ames, Iowa, and Lexie Hohlen of Dixon.

Click here to read Hohlen’s obituary.

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