At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Kaylea Brooks / Odarczenko Family Memorial
1833 Plainfield Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
Donations not sent through the Go Fund Me account may be made payable to Anthony Odarczenko and mailed to the funeral home at the address above.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With a warm smile and a ready laugh, Kaylea Elizabeth Brooks lived a life rich in family and friends. Called to do her best to make everyone feel better, Kaylea was a heart-centered woman who thought of others first. A devoted mother, Kaylea, was both humble and generous; she inspired others in countless ways. Though our days with her were far too few, the power of her life and love will long live in the hearts of those she loved.
1988 was a year of great promise in our nation as well as the world. As the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War drew to an official end, students protested oppression in China's Tiananmen Square, and America freed the people of Panama from the tyranny of dictatorship, freedom rang from every corner of the globe. Nowhere was there more hope than in East Grand Rapids, Michigan as Charles and Lori (Heterbring) Brooks welcomed their daughter Kaylea into their family on October 4.
At the age of two, Kaylea’s family moved from West Michigan to Downers Grove, Illinois, and eventually settled in Naperville. From her very first days, Kaylea possessed an infectious spirit. She was a good kid who lit up every room she walked into. Kaylea and her older sister Candace had a special and loving relationship. Throughout the years, they shared many laughs and tears together, complete with inside jokes.
Active and social, Kaylea enjoyed being outdoors. Winter was a time for ice skating and family ski trips, while warmer weather afforded horseback riding and sports. Summertime meant days at the beach, swimming, and trips to Camp Geneva. She tried many activities in her youth, including soccer, ice skating, softball, and gymnastics. Cheerleading proved to be all about the hair. She also tried her skill in music, playing the oboe and viola for a time.
After attending Brookdale Elementary, Hill Middle School, and Neuqua Valley High School, Kaylea earned her high school diploma through Lighthouse Christian Academy.
At the age of 17, Kaylea met Anthony “Tony” Odarczenko online. Over the next week or so, they played a few online games together, chatted, and video talked. Nine days later, they met in Schaumburg. They were inseparable from that point on. The young couple married on October 7, 2006, at Northwest Fellowship Baptist on the NW side of Chicago.
Kaylea and Tony first lived with his parents for a few months before moving to an apartment in Ukrainian Village in Chicago. They enjoyed eating out, going to movies, playing board games, and watching football on Sundays. Kaylea’s first jobs included working at a car wash, a pizza place, and then in the call center of Design Toscano.
In time, she and Tony were blessed to welcome three children into their family. Sarah, Nolan, and Hannah were the center of Kaylea’s universe, and she relished in the honor of being their mother. She was a fun mom who balanced discipline and play. She loved curling up with her kids and watching Disney Movies, and she was a good cook. Her children especially enjoyed her signature dish, “Kaylea’s fried chicken.”
In 2012, the family moved to Grand Rapids to get a fresh start. Kaylea worked at Subway and D & W for a time and as a family, they attended Calvary Church on Sundays. Sadly, Kaylea and Tony’s marriage ended in divorce in 2015. In time, she and Tony renewed their friendship and worked together to co-parent their children. Their friendship was a treasured gift to the family they shared.
With a deep commitment to being of service to others, especially young people, Kaylea enrolled in course work at Grand Rapids Community College, where she earned her associate’s degree. While it was challenging to balance parenting, classes, and work, Kaylea loved what she was learning and putting it into practice at home and work. Despite her hectic schedule, she was deeply satisfied with her job as a Youth Treatment Specialist. She liked being a source of comfort and encouragement for others, especially for kids, and she had big goals for how she would do just that in her future. Though she wasn’t really outgoing, she was comfortable with others. She spoke with ease and listened with empathy. She also had a great sense of humor and a willingness to share that inspired others to do so as well. Regardless of the struggles she faced, she met them time and time again with humility, humor, and faith. She also used her own ups and downs to encourage those in her care.
Kaylea possessed a keen eye for beauty and was a talented photographer. She enjoyed taking portraits and was particularly great at editing. Her creative shots will long be treasured. Kaylea also enjoyed the power of music. She often listened to hip-hop and contemporary Christian music, but perhaps her very favorites were the classic tunes of the ’90s, with the Spin Doctors’ Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong at the top of her playlist.
Without a doubt, the world is markedly duller in the absence of Kaylea’s bright spirit. May our hearts be comforted by the faith that her light shines on in each of our lives. As we reminisce about her loving heart, we will remember her unwavering devotion and love for her family and friends. And, each time we enjoy a good home-cooked meal, watch a Disney movie, share our talents in service of others, we celebrate Kaylea’s legacy and the gratitude we have for the time we shared with her. In so doing, Her spirit will continue to inspire others as she so inspired us.
Kaylea E. Brooks, age 31 of Grand Rapids, passed away on January 10, 2020. She is survived by her children Sarah, Nolan and Hannah Odarczenko; her friend and children’s father, Tony Odarczenko; mother, Lori Cadell; father, Charles (Leigh) Brooks; step-dad James Cadell; sister, Candace (Dave) Holte; grandmother Elizabeth Breederland; several aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. The service to remember Kaylea’s life will be held on Friday, January 24 at 5:30 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – 1833 Plainfield Ave NE. Friends are invited to visit with her family from 3:30 PM until 5:15 PM. For those who wish, a GoFundMe account has been established as the Kaylea Brooks / Odarczenko Family Memorial to help with immediate and longer-term needs. To read more about Kaylea, to share a memory or photo, or to sign her guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com