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Celia Alison Strong 1993-2019

Celia Alison Strong, 26, of Rockford, passed away unexpectedly at home on January 16, 2019, from SUDEP, which is "Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy of a person who is otherwise healthy." Born January 11, 1993 in Kansas City, Mo to Lisa Ann (Whiteside) Finkbeiner and Andrew Finley Finkbeiner. In 2001, the family changed their last name to "Strong." Celia lived in Rockford from 6 mos. old, attended Maria Montessori Elem., Lincoln Middle, and Guilford H.S. She graduated with a diploma in 2011 and was recently enrolled in the RAISE program at RVC.

Celia loved music, especially musical theater. She performed in the chorus of five CYT shows, one Starlight show, and one Gateway show. She used her crystal clear voice to sing harmonies in the worship band at Bethesda Covenant Church. She also sang solo, accompanied by her dad on piano, for special music at church services and, recently, at Nazarene Singpirations. She competed perennially in Young At Heart Idol. Celia regularly attended Irish Fest in Milwaukee with her mom; Renaissance Fair in Bristol with her mom and Matt ‘n Emma; and she and her dad frequently attended concerts at Mendelssohn PAC. Her current favorite songs were "Where I Belong" by Building 429, and "That's What Scars Are For" by Mandisa.

Celia was a reader, a writer, and an intricate doodler. With her mom, she enjoyed weekly trips to Rockford Public Library, Scrabble nights at Meg's, and high energy water workout at the Y. She also enjoyed bowling at Lousy Bowler's League and regular trips to Farmer's Market in season.

Celia loved baking, especially cookies. She created a delicious original recipe, Cherry Lime Frosted Cayenne Cookies. She also baked heart-shaped peanut butter dog treats, to the delight of any dog that ate them. She excited her own cats, Tammy and Pumpkin, by making cat treats of chicken, sardines, and salmon.

Celia knew God, loved Jesus and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Her name, Celia Alison, means "Heavenly Little Truthful One." To her friends, she was "Cece." She touched many lives with her quirky humor, unfiltered and uncannily insightful observations, ready encouragement and super imagination. She looked for ways to help as she was able.

Celia is survived by her parents; loving brother Matthew (Finkbeiner) Strong and his wife Emma Boylan; grandfather, William R. Whiteside; step-grandfather Leo Schubert.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hope for Hypothalamic Hamartomas, P.O. Box 721, Waddell, AZ 85355 or

A Memorial Celebration is at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, February 9, at Bethesda Evangelical Covenant Church, 2101 East State St., Rockford. Come prepared to sing and share stories as you are able.

Condolences & Shared Memories (44)

  1. Heath & Elly Swanson

    We are sorry for your loss. Celia was a very kind and thoughtful person. She was always delivering us dog treats, bones, and even girl scout cookies. Thank you for raising Celia to be a light in the dark world, she will be greatly missed!

  2. Marie Phillips

    Andrew and Lisa, My heart aches for you. She brought such joy to your lives. May those abiding memories comfort and sustain you.

  3. Jackie Norberg

    To my girlfriend celia strong I'm going to miss you we have had a good time together going places and bowling at bowling alley with friends.

  4. Kitty And Rachel Long

    We were so saddened to hear of Celia's passing. She was so sweet and fun spark to us. I was lucky to have her in my Girl Scout troop in Montessori with Rachel. We are so sorry for your loss.

  5. George Strombeck

    I was very sorry to hear about the unexpected death of your daughter Celia. For sometime I have felt a very "special connection" to her, because we share the same birthday! As you know the Bethesda Beacon always publishes member birthdays each month, and for several years I have noticed the name "Celia Strong" appearing with my name on January 11th! (Most recently I celebrated my 80th Birthday). I do recall seeing her perform in the praise band, and I know she will be greatly missed. The most difficult family death is to loose your own child - I offer my prayers and sincere sympathy to you.

  6. Jonathon Sleger

    I am so sorry to hear about Celia. She truly was one of the nicest sweetest people I knew at Guilford High School. My condolences to Matt and the rest of the family.

  7. Rylee Berkman

    I've known her since was 15. She was one of the first people to get me into musical theatre. I was so blessed we did Hairspray together. I will never forget her

  8. Alex

    I'll miss you you were an awesome friend

  9. Judy Ball

    I am so sorry for your loss and pray for God‘s strength and peace to get you through this. Everyone in the water aerobics class enjoyed Cece so much. She will be sorely missed . Heaven has a very special angel. I feel blessed that I was given the opportunity to know her

  10. Carol and Lindy Griesbach

    Lisa and family - We were so sad to hear of Celia's passing. We will always have a wonderful memory of her singing, accompanied by Andrew, at our daughter Mary's wedding reception. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

  11. Les and Sue Tsuyuki

    Our thoughts are prayers are with you at this time. We enjoyed watching Celia in CYT. She so loved the theater and being on stage. Her smile could light up a room. God's blessings to your family. Celia will be missed.

  12. Cameo Bailey (Wheeler)

    Im so sorry for your loss. She was a joy to be around. She was a wonderful person. I met her in my first show Aladdin. We use to share comic books. Again im so sorry. Sending love to you and your family.

  13. Sabrina L

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I met Celia this past summer when we were in Hairspray together. She was a very kind hearted person. Many prayers to your family at this difficult time and in the times ahead.

  14. Susan Davis

    There are no words to say how sorry we are for your loss. Our son too has an hh. You will be in our thoughts and prayers everyday.

  15. Sue Hessian

    Andrew, I am so sorry for your loss of Celia. The obituary seemed to catch the essence of a delightful, humorous young woman. I hope your family embraces one another to get through this difficult time. Thinking of you with care and concern, Sue.

  16. Dave and Jan Lindfors

    Our thoughts and prayers gave been with you both since we heard about Celia. We were blessed to have known her. Dave has great memories of being on praise team with her and the wonderful texts she sent him. I will miss her facebook posts. I always loved the treats she cooked and our times together with Wednesday small group at church.

  17. Maurene Pipitone

    So saddened to hear of Celia's passing. She was a beautiful person in every way!

  18. JAMIE

    LISA, Andrew & Matthew. My heart breaks for you. I'm so very sorry for your loss, you raised such a great girl. It's a comfort knowing she's in the arms of Jesus Christ.

  19. Suzanne Dean

    Dear all Friends and Deareat Family of Celia! I am so sorry to hear of Celia's passing. I also had a blast at teen time with her especially got her during water games. Oh IL never forget your laughter. And the times we hung out and did things together. Yes you had a gorgeous voice and amazing passion for musical theatre. Dance it up with Jesus girl Friend! Love and hugs to all. I wish I could attend the service yet stuck in GA for a while but am there in spirit and prayers. Love you guys

  20. Shawna, Stephanie and Renae Mrowiec

    Lisa, Matt and Andrew-- Our hearts are so heavy and devastated by the loss of Celia. We will never forget her sweetness or smile. We miss the world's biggest Donny Osmond fan already!! Celia was one of the most wonderful people we ever met, and the loss of her is so heartbreaking. All of our thoughts and prayers and love to you all in this truly difficult time. All of the Wonderlites will miss Celia beyond words. She was a truly incredible, sweet girl.

  21. Varina Boerwinkle

    So very sad to hear of Celia's tragic loss.

  22. Steven and Ann Green

    So sorry to learn of Celia's passing. When we knew her at CYT she was more than just a talented performer- she was kind and caring and always a friend to everyone.

  23. Dana Kruse, Emily- Rob - and Ryan

    Lisa, Andrew, and Matt- Our hearts pour out to you at this time. Celia always had the gift to touch hearts, watching her grow from a young child full of energy to the lovely young woman she'd become was our pleasure to be a part of. Hearing and watching Celia sing this Christmas was beautiful. Life is so unpredictable. As we celebrate everything Celia shared with us, prayers also for strength during this time and in times to come. Love Dana

  24. Alphia Carlson

    She was a wonderful, cheery person. Our tears are traces of her legacy and how much of a jewel she was in our lives.

  25. Erik Lindstrom & Debbie Lindstrom

    Celia is kind, friendly, a good person, a good singer, and a GOOD FRIEND. During our time together at the Rockford Park District summer camp, Celia talked me into performing in the talent show. I wasn't so sure about performing as she wanted me to wear a costume that I did not like. But I decided to do it for my friend Celia! We performed the song For Good from the musical WICKED-the following lyrics from WICKED mean so much to me now! People come into our lives for a reason. We are led to those who help us most to grow and we help them in return. We will never meet again in this lifetime. Because I knew you I have been changed for good Your Friend, Erik Lindstrom

  26. Terri Dylan

    I'm so saddened by your loss. My family will be praying for y'all.

  27. Bonnie Dahlberg

    So very very sorry for the passing of your sweet Cilia. We met when Jeremy came to town. I'm so glad we were able to meet Celia and you. I loss of a child is devastating for parents. May you find comfort in God's loving arms. Prayers to you and your family.

  28. Zeb walsh

    Rest in eternal peace and may your loved ones left behind find the same

  29. Cecilia piñero

    Lo siento con toda el alma ,soy la mamá de David un niño de 8 años con HH, ahora no puedo evitar derramar mis lágrimas ,fuerza y mucho amor desde España y desde mi corazón.

  30. Louise Lamp

    Having gone through this myself and our family, it takes it's toll both physically and mentally. I pray we can figure out why this happens in the very near future.My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  31. Alisha

    I attended guilford high school with her we both graduated in 2011. She was such a wonderful person . We had classes freshen year . She will be missed .

  32. Glen Schallman

    My sweet friend Celia you will be missed, I will miss your laughter over the phone, The time we had pizza together after my brain tumor walk and when you invited me over to Rockford. I will miss you!!!!!

  33. Susan kuborn

    I went to high school with Celia she was such a great friend and had a great personality she will be missed dearly. I am very sorry for your loss but was very happy to meet her in high school.

  34. Laurie Ramboldt

    Celia touched the hearts of so many. Her beautiful voice and sense of humor will be truly missed. I so enjoyed working with her during many Bethesda Covenant Church activities, especially the Summer Kids Program. Celia loved working with kids and they loved her too!! Peace to her wonderful memory!

  35. Bonnie Dahlberg

    So very very sorry for your loss of your lovely daughter. It was my joy to have met you both that night when Jeremy came to visit. The pain and sadness of losing a child is indescribable. We are not to outlive our child. May you find comfort in God's loving arms and in all the prayers coming your way from those who love you and loved her.

  36. Nichole Keirn

    Celia was a dreamer, she love to sing, she loves to act and she was a good friend. It's hard to believe that my best friend has passed. I remember the first day at school when we met because she had missed her bus oh, I was in a Grade above her and I remember giving her my phone number That day. I will never forget one of the greatest times in her life is when I took her to Six Flags Great America, she told me that was the best day of her summer ever. I had some of my summer plans to be with her, take her to Magic Waters and to take her to Great America. This just doesn't seem so real oh, I feel like I'm dreaming and I'm going to wake up. My condolences to her family and that even though she is not here in our presence she is always here in our hearts. May her memory live on forever. Rest in peace Celia strong.

  37. Sarah Martinez

    I know her from Guilford high. We had a class together. We was a sweet and loving person. She will be missed my heart goes out to her family and friends.

  38. Sarah R

    I know her throw Guilford high.We had class together.She was such a sweet and kind person.She will be truly missed.My heart goes out to her family and friends.

  39. Lisa (Grindle) Hyser

    I am so sorry for your loss of Cecilia. She was a very kind hearted person who was loved by many. She will be missed

  40. Pearl Kinney

    I am very sorry for your loss Lisa and family. Praying for God's love, peace and mercy to cover you during this difficult time.

  41. Kelly Janssen (LMS)

    Celia was an enjoyable student. She really made my class a lot more interesting. Enjoyed being her teacher. Very much enjoyed her wonderful personality. So sorry we lost such a wonderful young woman.

  42. Lisa Soeby

    Celia was an amazing young lady. Even with the challenges put before her with a rare brain tumor and epilepsy - she was a role model and champion. She will be missed and loved by so many in our community!

  43. Lisa Szwiec

    I am devastated to hear of this news, Celia was my daughter 's age and one of the very first child I worked with at Montessori school, she was so sweet and loving. Her and I talked often on Facebook. R.I.P sweet girl.

  44. Lisa Miller (Starlight Theatre)

    I am so very sorry for your loss & am praying for peace & comfort for all of you during this time. I met Celia at Starlight & met her dad when he worked at Rockford Public Library. Much love to your family.

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