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Melissa Rae (Canto) O’Leary, 38

Melissa Rae (Canto) O’Leary, 38, passed away on Aug. 25, 2022, at Northwestern Medicine Hospital in McHenry. In death, Melissa would go on to save lives through organ donation.

Melissa was born in Woodstock on Jan.27, 1984, to Reynaldo and Elisa Canto. She attended St. Mary Catholic School and Woodstock High School.

Even in her youth, Melissa knew she wanted to make the world a better place. She received a Bachelor of Arts in education from Northern Illinois University in 2006 and began her career as a special education teacher. Melissa transitioned to work as a school social worker after earning a Master’s of Social Work from George Williams College of Aurora University in 2016. She worked for Woodstock School District 200 for 15 years.

In addition to this important work, Melissa spent 20 summers working at Woodstock Water Works as a lifeguard, swim instructor, and pool manager. Melissa loved her hometown. Friends and family loved to tease her, saying Melissa could be mayor one day. She could never go anywhere in town without running into someone she knew, and she always stopped to chat.

Melissa was known for her beautiful smile and a laugh that could fill a whole room. She was a bright light in this world, a force of love and positivity. She was an amazing friend to so many. Family was incredibly important to Melissa. In all her roles, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, and tata (aunt), Melissa was wonderful. Nothing, though, compared to her love for her husband, Tim. Together for 14 years, Melissa and Tim were married at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in 2018. Melissa’s love for and devotion to Tim were inspiring.

Though she had accomplished so much in her life, Melissa aspired to even more. Her goal was to become a licensed clinical social worker, specializing in marriage counseling. However, Melissa’s greatest dream was to start a family with Tim. She would have made an exceptional mother. 

Melissa is survived by her loving husband, Tim; parents, Reynaldo and Elisa Canto; sisters, Lisa Canto and Cynthia (Daniel) Howe; and nephews, Winston and Everett. She is preceded in death by maternal grandparents, Mariano and Josephina Guerrero; paternal grandparents, Benjamin and Maxima Canto, and Rena Canto; and family dog, Scooter. 

It cannot be overstated how many people loved her and how many lives she had impacted during her 38 years of life. Melissa will be missed tremendously.

The visitation will be held Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, at Schneider, Leucht, Merwin & Cooney Funeral Home, 1211 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock, from 3 to 7 p.m. The funeral Mass will take place Friday, Sept. 2, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Mary Catholic Church in Woodstock, with a luncheon to follow. Interment services will be private.

For information, call the funeral home at 815-338-1710 or see our website at

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