Central secretary leaves legacy of kindness

Communication+arts+secretary+DeeDee+Vos%2C+seen+here+at+her+reception+desk%2C+was+recognized+as+Naperville+Central%27s+Educational+Support+Professional+of+the+Year+for+the+2019-20+school+year.+Vos+died+in+October+after+a+decade-long+battle+with+breast+cancer.+

Photo courtesy of Marissa Freese

Communication arts secretary DeeDee Vos, seen here at her reception desk, was recognized as Naperville Central’s Educational Support Professional of the Year for the 2019-20 school year. Vos died in October after a decade-long battle with breast cancer.

Jane Armstrong, Correspondent

Bulletin boards are a common part of a school environment, but as communication arts department chair Mike Doman explains, what you do with a bulletin board can end up being something special, especially when placed in the care of DeeDee Vos. Sensing the need for “more spirit and community” in his department, Doman asked Vos, his department secretary, to take over their board and give it a new life.  

“I told her that I thought it could be a place where she could be really creative and bring people together,” Doman said. “She took that and did amazing things every month, made these beautiful themed bulletin boards.”

Vos’ community-building displays included guessing games of staff baby pictures and March Madness-style brackets where teachers on the second floor of Naperville Central would vote for their favorite seasonally-themed movies.  These spreads are now one small item in a long list of impactful gestures that Doman and his coworkers will miss.

Lana DeAnne “DeeDee” Vos passed away after a 10-year battle with breast cancer on Oct. 19. at 4:44 a.m. She was surrounded by her family at the time of her death, and passed peacefully. Her funeral was held on Oct. 28 at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Naperville. 

Vos’ impact extended well beyond the communication arts department. She provided additional support to the social studies department, whose members share office space with communication arts teachers. And students who had the chance to interact with her know that Vos invited anyone who approached her desk into friendly conversations and offered them whatever assistance she could. She was awarded with the school’s Educational Support Professional of the Year Award during the 2019-2020 school year for her service to the Central community. 

Her family members say she wanted everyone she interacted with to feel cared for and loved, and many say that they left feeling as though a weight was lifted off their shoulders after a single conversation.

“My mom was an amazing person,” said sophomore Caitlyn Vos, daughter of DeeDee and her husband Greg. “She pushed herself to the very end, and [was] one of the strongest people that I’ve ever known. She fought hard every day of her life, and her perseverance and strength were unmatched.” 

Vos had always been a fighter and an advocate for change. She was active in her parish and its youth group at St. Elizabeth Seton, where she served as a eucharistic minister and wedding coordinator. As secretary of the communication arts department, she interacted with thousands of students and faculty members throughout her career. She accomplished all of these things while actively battling cancer and, despite a variety of complications and treatments, strove to keep her focus on the needs of her family and fellow faculty rather than her condition. 

“I think that Mrs. Vos taught everyone, not just at Central, but everyone in her life, what it means to be selfless and what grace is,” Doman said. “Even on the days she wasn’t feeling well, she just knew and believed that the only way to live your life is to be positive and think about tomorrow with anticipation and excitement.” 

Those who knew Vos say that her presence continues to be felt after her death and that the way she cared for those around her continues to inspire them. In addition to leaving behind a daughter and a husband, Vos also leaves a legacy of everlasting positivity and joy behind that still lives on through her colleagues and those who were close with her. 

The Vos family has asked that donations in DeeDee’s memory be made to breast cancer charities Stand Up to Cancer and the Cancer Research Foundation