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Chicago In Memoriam: 25 notable Chicagoans who passed away in 2022

Chicago In Memoriam 2022
Chicago In Memoriam 2022 02:17

CHICAGO (CBS/AP) -- Some grew up in Chicago and moved on, others moved to Chicago later to achieve their greatest professional heights, and others still were Chicagoans their whole lives long. They came from all walks of life, and all left an indelible mark on Chicago and the world.

Here is a look at 25 notable Chicagoans who passed away this year.

Gloria Allen, 76: Transgender Activist

Gloria Allen Teaches Young Transgender People
Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Transgender activist Gloria Allen – known to many as Mama Gloria – died on June 13.

Allen was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky and grew up in Chicago – emerging from the famous drag ball culture of the South Side in the 1960s, according to an obit story published by the Dallas Voice.

Allen went on to overcome traumatic violence to become a leader of her community. She became a licensed practical nurse and worked at the University of Chicago Medical Center and in private homes as a nurse's aide, according to her obit story.

Allen was known in her later years for operating a charm school for young transgender people at the Center on Halsted, offering "lessons on love, makeup, and manners that she received from her mother and grandmother," according to her obit.

The charm school became the inspiration for the play "Charm," written by Philip Dawkins. Allen also appeared on the cover of the book, "To Survive on this Shore" by Jess T. Dugan – which featured photos and interviews of transgender and nonbinary elders, according to her obit story.

Allen was the subject in 2020 of the documentary, "Mama Gloria," directed by Luchina Fisher. The documentary received a nomination for a GLAAD Media Award, her obit noted.

The obit included a quote from a story in The 19th News publication: "I hit walls that were up against me, but I pressed through the walls and made myself known to everybody because I'm not ashamed, and I want people to know that."

Eugene Barnes, 91: Former Illinois State Representative

Wyn-Win Communications

Former Illinois state representative and Chicago city executive Eugene Barnes died Nov. 13.

Barnes served four terms in Springfield, representing the South Side of Chicago. He helped form the influential Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, and sponsored the first Illinois Lottery legislation.

As chairman of the state House of Representatives Appropriations II committee, Barnes led the effort to secure funds for the first buildings on the Chicago State University campus. He also authored legislation requiring medical students who received state scholarships to work in medically underserved communities after they graduated.

Barnes resigned his state House seat in 1979, when he was appointed as the first Black board chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority. He was later elected chairman of the American Public Transportation Association.

In 1983, Barnes was appointed commissioner of the city Department of Sewers by Mayor Harold Washington, with whom he had served in the Illinois House.

After his term in government service, Barnes became a lobbyist with the Springfield firm Cook-Witter Inc., and later established his own lobbyist firm, E.M. Barnes & Associates.

Barnes also served as a member of the Illinois Pension Laws Commission.

Bob Chinn, 99: Restaurateur


Bob Chinn, the namesake of an iconic crab house in northwest suburban Wheeling, died April 15.

According to a biography from the restaurant, Chinn was the third of seven children in Duluth, Minnesota. His parents, Wai and Yung Shee Ong Chinn, were immigrants from Toishan, China.

Chinn moved to Chicago with his family as a youngster. His parents owned an Uptown restaurant called the New Wilson Village, and they lived about two blocks north of Wrigley Field, the restaurant said.

By the age of 14, Chinn was delivering Chinese food himself. He went on to serving three years in the Army during World War II, according to the restaurant.

After a fire damaged his parents' restaurant, Chinn salvaged the kitchen equipment and started a carryout business called the Golden Pagoda in Evanston, according to the crab house. He later opened the House of Chan in Wilmette and later the Kahala Terrace – and finally Bob Chinn's Crab House in Wheeling just before Christmas 1982, according to Chinn's bio.

The restaurant expanded and became the fourth top grossing independent restaurant in the United States.

Richard Christiansen, 90: Theatre Critic

Carleton College

Richard Christiansen was widely esteemed as the dean of Chicago theatre critics. He died Jan. 28.

The Berwyn native was the chief theatre critic for the Chicago Tribune from 1978 until 2002. He previously wrote for the Chicago Daily News, whose staff he joined in 1957, according to published reports.

A New York Times obituary story by Neil Genzlinger credited Christiansen help "make Chicago one of the most vibrant theatre towns in the country" – praising early work by David Mamet and helping along the career of longtime Goodman Theatre artistic director Robert Falls.

A 2001 article in Playbill noted Christiansen's association with the renaissance in the Chicago stage theatre scene that took off in the late 60s and early 70s. He told the publication at the time, "Chicago is unique in that its reputation was built on the back of small theatres instead of large theatres."

Genzlinger noted that Christiansen would not hesitate to pan stage productions he didn't like, but helped make the very reputations of actors and theatre companies when he praised them in his reviews.

The second-floor studio theatre at the Victory Gardens Theater was named the Richard Christiansen Theater in the critic's honor in 2010.

Julio Cruz, 67: White Sox Baseball Player

Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images  

Former White Sox second baseman Julio Cruz died Feb. 22.

The speedy second baseman helped the White Sox win the AL West in 1983, after being traded by the Seattle Mariners.

White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in February that Cruz was the catalyst for the White Sox' run to the AL West Division Title that year.

"He had electric ability as a player but was such a big part of those teams because of his personality," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said in February. "He was a caring guy and because of that had an emotional connection with his teammates on and off the field."

Cruz played 10 seasons total in the majors. He played parts of seven seasons with the Seattle Mariners, beginning with their inaugural season in 1977. Cruz made his debut with Seattle on July 4, 1977, after being selected from the California Angels organization during the expansion draft.

Cruz was traded to the White Sox during the 1983 season, and remained with them until retiring in 1986. At that point, he went back to Seattle, where he had served as part of the Mariners' Spanish-language broadcasts since 2003.

Merri Dee, 85: Broadcaster


Merri Dee, a beloved Chicago reporter, broadcaster, and community relations professional, died March 16.

Dee spent nearly all of her career with WGN-TV, Channel 9 – first as a reporter and staff announcer from 1972 until 1983, and then as director of community relations until she retired from the station in 2008.

"She was a beautiful woman with a beautiful voice and beautiful spirit," CBS 2 anchor Jim Williams, who worked with Dee at WGN, said in March.

A graduate of Englewood High School in Chicago, Dee began her broadcasting career at WBEE radio in south suburban Harvey in 1966. Dee switched to television two years later, hosting programs on WCIU-TV 26 and then WSNS-TV 44, where she worked as a talk show host.

It was while working at WSNS-TV in 1971 that Dee and one of her guests, psychic Alan Sandler, were kidnapped outside the station -- then located at 430 W. Grant Pl. in Lincoln Park. 

The kidnapper drove Dee and Sandler to a forest preserve on the Far Southeast Side of the city. Each was shot in the head, and Sandler was killed, while Dee was left for dead. But Dee managed to crawl away and seek help.

"I immediately thought about my family, I thought about my daughter," Dee told CBS 2 in 2011. "My daughter was 12 years old."

She almost died and was left temporarily blind. Dee worked through a difficult recovery and resumed her career the following year at WGN-TV.

At WGN, Dee became one of the first Black women to anchor in Chicago.

Dee worked 11 years in assorted on-air positions at WGN before taking over as director of community relations and manager of the station's Children's Charities. She also served as the First Lady of the Illinois Lottery on WGN.

Dee was also appointed to serve as an official U.S. Army ambassador, and was appointed to by Mayor Richard M. Daley to serve on the Mayor's Council on Women's Issues. She was also a commissioner on the Illinois Human Rights Commission, and the Illinois State President for AARP.

In December 2021, Dee received the Pioneer Award from the Illinois Broadcasters Association. That was the last time CBS 2 President and General Manager Jennifer Lyons saw Dee, but Dee's impact is forever.

"She was a trailblazer for women. She really was," Lyons said. "She inspired me. I know there's countless other women out there that she inspired and encouraged."

Meanwhile, CBS 2's Brad Edwards had this tribute in March: "Merri Dee was never just in the room. She was omni-present - her aura, electric. so explains this picture."

In 2018, Edwards introduced Dee at an event for the LGBTQ community.

"Long before it was chic, PC, or necessary, she supported causes that didn't benefit her," Edwards said. "That is the measure of mercy."

Remembering Chicago broadcast pioneer Merri Dee 03:40

Dick Duchossois, 100: Businessman, Arlington International Racecourse Owner

Duchossois Family  

Businessman Richard L. Duchossois died Jan. 28.

Duchossois is best known for as owner of the former Arlington International Racecourse horseracing track in Arlington Heights, the property for which the Chicago Bears signed a $197 million purchasing agreement last year.

Duchossois purchased what was then known as Arlington Park in 1983. Two years later, the whole facility was destroyed by fire – and Duchossois was credited not only with rebuilding the racetrack, but also holding the Arlington Million horserace just days after the fire.

Duchossois grew up in the Beverly community. After serving in World War II, went on to join his wife's family business, Chicago Heights-based Thrall Car Manufacturing Company, which manufactured and repaired railcar parts. The company only had 35 employees at the time, but had 3,000 employees and a production capacity of 16,000 rail cars per year when Trinity Rail Group acquired it in 2001.

Duchossois went on to buy the Chamberlain Manufacturing Group, broadcast outlets, and of course, Arlington Park.

His wife, Beverly, died of cancer in 1980. She was treated at the University of Chicago Medical Center, and Duchossois made a major philanthropic gift to the hospital two years before she died.

The Duchoissois Family Foundation later began as a philanthropic organization.

Duchossois also brought the 2002 Breeders Cup to Arlington International Racecourse, and he was inducted into the National Museum and Racing Hall of Fame in 2019.

Les Grobstein, 69: Radio Sportscaster

670 The Score

Chicago radio sportscaster Les Grobstein was found dead in his Elk Grove Village home on Jan. 16. Grobstein had most recently been an overnight host on WSCR 670-AM since 2009.

The Chicago native, who graduated from Von Steuben High School and Columbia College, started his career as a commentator for Northwestern basketball in 1970. To fans, he was affectionately known as "the Grobber."

Going back to 1977, Grobstein worked as an announcer for various sports teams, a reporter for Sportsphone Chicago, as the sports director at WLS 890-AM and as a reporter for WMVP-1000 before settling into his longtime home with 670 The Score.

While at WLS, Grobstein was the one who famously taped Cubs manager Lee Elia's obscenity-laden locker-room rant against fans in 1983, the Chicago Reader recalled.

Writing for TMG Sports, Herb Gould recalled the depth of Grobstein's passion for covering and talking about any and all sports.

"Sometimes you would see him at an 11 a.m. Northwestern football game—after he had worked the overnight, helping insomniacs by talking sports," Gould wrote. "After feeding some interview tape, he would be off to a night game at Notre Dame. Or a high school event. Wherever a game was being played."

Joseph Kromelis, 75: Chicago's Walking Man

Vytas Vaitkus  

Joseph Kromelis, known as Chicago's "Walking Man," died Dec. 12, months after he was set on fire while sleeping in River North.

Known for his signature long hair, and mustache, and often seen wearing a sport coat, Kromelis was affectionately called "The Walking Man" by Chicagoans who had seen him frequently roaming the city's downtown streets for decades. Some said he reminded them of George Harrison, others Yanni.

In a commentary in December, NPR "Weekend Edition Saturday" host Scott Simon wrote: "It may be a natural reflex of the heart to feel pity for Joseph Kromelis. But everything I saw in his stride the times I glimpsed him strutting across the Michigan Avenue bridge, looking poised, urbane, and elegant, tells me that Walking Man would prefer to be remembered for making his own way through life. He cut a vivid figure against a great skyline."

Joseph Guardia, 27, is charged with aggravated arson and attempted murder in the attack on Kromelis in the early morning hours of Wednesday, May 25, on Lower Wabash Avenue near Trump Tower.

William Kunkle, 81: Prosecutor and Judge


William J. "Bill" Kunkle Jr., a retired Cook County judge and attorney who was known for being the chief trial prosecutor in the John Wayne Gacy case, died Nov. 19.

Kunkle began as an assistant public defender in Cook County in 1970, and moved to the Cook County State's Attorney's office three years later. He served a number of roles in the State's Attorney's office, including Chief Deputy State's Attorney and First Assistant State's Attorney.

Kunkle is well-known as the attorney who led the prosecution against serial killer Gacy and secured the death penalty in his case in 1980.

In 1999, Kunkle also led the prosecution of the DuPage 7 – seven law enforcement officials who were charged with conspiracy to convict Rolando Cruz wrongfully of the 1983 murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico in Naperville. The DuPage 7 were all acquitted.

Kunkle went on to serve as head of the Illinois Gaming Commission and then became a Cook County judge – a post from which he retired in 2014.

Kunkle also appeared regularly as a legal analyst on CBS 2 alongside attorney Adam Bourgeois Sr. back in the 1990s.

Ramsey Lewis, 87: Jazz Musician

Long Beach Jazz Festival
Earl Gibson III / Getty Images

For more than six decades, Ramsey Lewis shared his love affair with jazz with his hometown of Chicago and with the world. He died Sept. 12.

Lewis was a three-time Grammy winner and an NEA Jazz Master. His 1965 hit "The In Crowd" was an international pop crossover success.

Lewis grew up in the Cabrini-Green housing project. He started taking piano lessons at a young age and played at church, where his father was choir director. His father, Ramsey Lewis Sr., was a big jazz fan, always playing Duke Ellington and Art Tatum at home and taking the younger Lewis to jazz shows.

Lewis went to Wells High School, where saxophonist Wallace Burton asked him to join his jazz and R&B band, the Clefs. The draft for the Korean War claimed several band members, but three who didn't get drafted – Lewis, bassist Eldee Young, and drummer Redd Holt – formed the Ramsey Lewis Trio in 1953.

In 1956, their first album, "Ramsey Lewis and His Gentlemen of Jazz" was released on the Chess label. Shortly afterward, Lewis performed with his trio at Birdland in New York. That three-week stint led to performances at the Newport Jazz Festival and the Village Vanguard.

The trio also recorded with jazz icons Max Roach, Clark Terry, and Sonny Stitt.

Lewis broke through in 1965 with "The In Crowd." The Grammy-winning song (performed originally as a vocal number by Dobie Gray) was followed by "Hang on Sloopy" and "Wade in the Water."

The original Ramsey Lewis Trio broke up in 1966, but reunited in 1982 for a series of concerts at the old George's Supper Club in River North -- resulting in the live album "Reunion" the following year.

The pianist's 1974 album "Sun Goddess" and its title track were produced by Earth, Wind and Fire's Maurice White and featured members of EWF. The album illustrated Lewis' appeal into fusion and R&B.

Lewis also served for 25 years as artistic director of jazz at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park. The jazz composer also hosted the weekly "Legends of Jazz" program on WDCB-FM, heard Sunday afternoons, and hosted "The Ramsey Lewis Morning Show" on the old smooth jazz station WNUA-FM 95.5.

Lewis' vast musical knowledge was shared up until his late years. He live-streamed Facebook sessions called "Between the Keys" – his latest one in January of this year.

Remembering jazz icon, and Chicagoan, Ramsey Lewis 03:39

Elise Malary, 31, Transgender Activist

Malary Family

Evanston activist Elise Malary died March 17. She was known as a bright light in the LGBTQ+ community and beyond – a friend, a sister, a fighter.

Malary was described as an advocate who dedicated her life to lifting up the local LGBTQ+ community as a Black trans woman.

She more than made her mark on Chicago. Back in 2019, she led a rally for equality after explicit transphobic stickers were placed on the windows and doors at Women & Children First bookstore in Andersonville.

Malary worked with the Chicago Therapy Collective, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and Equality Illinois.

She served alongside Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul in the Civil Rights Bureau. At a vigil in March, Attorney General remembered her as a tireless advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.

"Elise worked tirelessly for Black trans lives – including her own. She knew intimately that the world and the people in it, she loved and needed to change for better," Chicago Therapy Collective director and therapist Iggy Ladden said at a vigil in Andersonville in March. "Elise faced hardness and chose kindness. Elise faced cruelty and chose softness and love, joy. She chose giving people the benefit of the doubt. She looked for the good in them. She chose compassion, and she chose time and time again to lift others up."

In Evanston in June, Malary was also honored at a Sunday Pride Month candlelight remembrance ceremony, the Daily Northwestern noted.

Crowd gathers to mourn Elise Malary, activist whose body was found in Lake Michigan 02:36

Nichelle Nichols, 89: Actress

2021 Los Angeles Comic Con
Albert L. Ortega / Getty Images

Actress and Robbins native Nichelle Nichols died July 30.

Nichols' father, Samuel Nichols, once served as the mayor of the south suburb – and her grandparents were among the first Black settlers wo helped found and incorporate the Village of Robbins. Nichols' family later moved from Robbins to the South Side's Woodlawn neighborhood, according to multiple published reports.

Nichols got her start as a singer and dancer in Chicago.

Nichols' role in the original 1966-69 "Star Trek" series as Lt. Uhura earned her a position of honor with the series' rabid fans, known as Trekkers and Trekkies. It also earned her accolades for breaking stereotypes that had limited Black women to acting roles as servants and included an interracial onscreen kiss with co-star William Shatner that was unheard of at the time.

Nichols was the first African American woman on television to play a main cast role in the Sci-Fi series. She was prepared to leave the series, but stayed after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. convinced her of the importance of the role.

She often recalled how Dr. King was a fan of the show and praised her role.

Like other original cast members, Nichols also appeared in six big-screen spinoffs starting in 1979 with "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" and frequented "Star Trek" fan conventions. She also served for many years as a NASA recruiter, helping bring minorities and women into the astronaut corps.

Actress Nichelle Nichols, known as Lt. Uhura on original Star Trek, dies at 89 00:47

Claes Oldenburg, 93: Artist

RAFA RIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

Pop artist Claes Oldenburg – who turned the mundane into the monumental through his outsized sculptures of a baseball bat, a clothespin, and other objects – died on July 18.

Oldenburg was born in Stockholm, Sweden, but spent much of his childhood in Chicago. He attended the Latin School of Chicago in the Gold Coast, and attended college at Yale University from 1946 until 1950 before returning to Chicago and studying at The School of the Art Institute.

Oldenburg also dipped his toes into the world of journalism in Chicago – working as a reporter for the City News Bureau. The legendary local wire service also counted Mike Royko, Seymour Hirsh, and Kurt Vonnegut among its many famous alums.

Meanwhile, his biography notes, Oldenburg opened a studio and enjoyed some of his first sales at the 57th Street Art Fair in the Hyde Park neighborhood. He moved to New York City in 1956.

Oldenburg's first blaze of publicity came in the early 60s, when a type of performance art called the Happening began to crop up in the artier precincts of Manhattan.

A 1962 New York Times article described it as "a far-out entertainment more sophisticated than the twist, more psychological than a séance and twice as exasperating as a game of charades."

Oldenburg's sculpture was also becoming known during this period, particularly ones in which objects such as a telephone or electric mixer were rendered in soft, pliable vinyl. 

"The telephone is a very sexy shape," Oldenburg told the Los Angeles Times.

One of his early large-scale works was "Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks," which juxtaposed a large lipstick on tracks resembling those that propel Army tanks. The original — with its undertone suggestion to "make love (lipstick) not war (tanks)" — was commissioned by students and faculty and installed at Yale in 1969.

The original version deteriorated and was replaced by a steel, aluminum, and fiberglass version in another spot on the Yale campus in 1974.

In Chicago, Oldenburg's best-known work is "Batcolumn" (1977), a 100-foot lattice-work steel baseball bat that stands outside the Harold Washington Social Security Center at 600 W. Madison St. in the West Loop Gate.

While Oldenburg remained in New York after moving there in 1956, he at times has also lived in France and California.

Bob Parsons, 72: Bears Football Player

NFC Wildcard Game - Chicago Bears v Philadelphia Eagles
Focus On Sport / Getty Images

Bob Parsons, a punter and tight end who spent his entire NFL career with the Bears, died July 8.

As Larry Meyer wrote for the Bears, Parsons was selected in the fifth round of the 1972 draft from Penn State. He appeared in 170 games for the Bears from 1972 through 1983.

Throughout that time, Parsons was the Bears' primary punter – averaging 38.7 yards on a franchise-record 884 punts, Meyer wrote. Parsons led the NFL in punts and punt yardage in the 1981 and 1983 seasons.

Parsons also played tight end. He finished his NFL career with 19 receptions for 231 yards and four touchdowns, Meyer wrote.

Parsons spent the last year of his football career with the USFL, playing for the Birmingham Stallions. He went on to change careers to become a real estate appraiser, and enjoyed tennis, golf, and bowling, Meyer wrote.

Bill Plante, 84: CBS News Correspondent

CBS News
CBS via Getty Images

Bill Plante, an award-winning CBS News correspondent who became one of the longest-serving White House broadcast journalists in history, died Sept. 28.

Plante was a CBS News White House correspondent for 35 years during the administrations of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama and covered the State Department during the administration of George H.W. Bush.  He was known for his baritone voice, which he used to launch questions from afar.  

Plante was born in Chicago and grew up in the Rogers Park neighborhood. While in college at Loyola University, Plante began his broadcasting career in 1956 at the old WNIB Classical 9.71 radio, where he read news and broadcast classical music, according to published reports.

Plante graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 1959 with a B.S. in humanities, and then landed a job as assistant news director at WISN-TV in Milwaukee, then a CBS affiliate.

Plante did news and weather in addition to assigning stories until 1963, when he was picked for a CBS Fellowship at Columbia University in New York. There, he chose to study political science for his year-long term.   

Plante joined CBS News in New York as a reporter/assignment editor in June 1964. He covered the Civil Rights movement, and interviewed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in March 1965.

Plante was named a CBS News correspondent in 1966 and assigned to the Chicago bureau – headquartered at the old CBS McClurg Court broadcast center – where he remained for 10 years.

While based in Chicago, Plante covered such stories as the Chicago riots of 1966, campus unrest at Ohio University, the United Auto Workers strike in 1970, and the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa in 1975.

Meanwhile, he began his political reporting in 1968, reporting on the California Primary, the Republican National Convention and the presidential campaigns of Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon.

Plante also reported on the Vietnam War on four separate tours in 1964, 1967, 1971-1972, and 1975, earning two awards for his work. 

Plante's three-part investigation of the U.S.-Soviet wheat deal in 1972 on "The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite" also won him one of his Emmy Awards. He also won an Overseas Press Club Award for "Best Radio Spot News Reporting from Abroad" as part of the CBS News team covering the fall of Vietnam and Cambodia. 

Plante joined CBS News' Washington bureau in December 1976. He was named senior White House correspondent in 1986, and in 1988, he was tapped to anchor the "CBS Sunday Night News," a role he filled until 1995.  

Plante retired from CBS News as senior White House correspondent in 2016 after 52 years with the news division. 

Jim Post, 82: Folk Musician

Jim Post On Stage
Paul Natkin / Getty Images

Jim Post, a musician who became famous as a major part of the folk scene in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood, died Sept. 14.

Post was born in Houston and won a broadcast radio competition when he was 6 years old, according to his obit. In the 1960s, Post launched a successful recording career with his then-wife, Chicago native Cathy Conn, as Friend & Lover. The duo's most famous song was "Reach out of the Darkness," a top 10 hit in 1968.

Meanwhile in Old Town, Post regularly played at the Earl of Old Town at 1615 N. Wells St. He played alongside other icons such as Steve Goodman, John Prine, and Bonnie Koloc, according to his obit.

Post released albums regularly as a solo artist in the 70s and 80s – among them "Colorado Exile" (1973), "I Love My Life" (1978), "The Crooner from Outer Space" (1984), and "Jim Post & Friends" (1987).

Post also served a stint as host of WBEZ's "Flea Market" folk and world music radio program – broadcast as a live concert on Sunday nights at the Old Town School of Folk Music's Armitage Avenue location back in the 1980s. He also performed for children, including a regular engagement at the Organic Theater in Lincoln Park called the Cookie Crumb Club.

Post also published a couple of children's books – "Barnyard Boogie" and "Frog in the Kitchen Sink" – and co-created Reading by Ear, a musical program intended to help children learn phonetically, his obit read.

In later years, Post – long known for his dramatic mustache – performed as Mark Twain in a long-running one-man show, "Mark Twain and the Laughing River."

Post lived in Galena, Illinois for almost 50 years and became known as the Bard of Galena.

Jim Ramsey, 69: Weatherman

Leslie Ramsey

Jim Ramsey worked as a news anchor and weatherman for several TV stations across the country, but was best known for his work as a weatherman at WGN-TV Channel 9. He died on April 18.

WGN-TV noted that Ramsey joined the station in 1987 and stayed on for 30 years until 2017.

A native of Marion, South Carolina, Ramsey also worked on the air at TV stations in North Carolina, Colorado, and Virginia before coming to Chicago and joining WLS-TV, ABC 7 as a weatherman and reporter in 1980, according to published reports.

Ramsey left Chicago and ABC 7 in 1983 and switched to Washington, D.C.'s ABC 7, WJLA-TV, for two years, according to a Chicago Tribune obit story. He then moved back to South Carolina and took two years off from the business before joining WGN-TV, the newspaper reported.

Ramsey's WGN-TV weather colleague, meteorologist Tom Skilling, called Ramsey "genuine and kind."

"He could look at the craziest aspects of our world and always be able to put them in perspective -- even put a smile on your face," Skilling wrote in a Facebook post.

Bernard Shaw, 82: News Anchor

Obit - Bernard Shaw
Alex Brandon / AP

Broadcast journalist Bernard Shaw was named the first chief anchor for CNN when the cable news outlet launched in 1980. He died Sept. 7.

Shaw was born in Chicago and attended the University of Illinois at Chicago. After a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps, he worked in radio in Chicago – beginning at the old WNUS all-news radio station in the 1960s, according to published reports.

Shaw then joined CBS News in Washington, D.C., and then worked for ABC News before joining CNN, according to published reports.

CNN chief executive officer and chairman Chris Licht called Shaw "a CNN original." After becoming the network's first chief anchor, Shaw built an award-winning career as a broadcast journalist over the next 20 years.

Some of Shaw's most notable work includes moderating the 1988 presidential debate between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis and 2000 vice presidential debate between Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman, as well as live reporting on the 1991 Gulf War.

Shaw is remembered in particular for how calmly he reported the beginning of 1991 war as missiles flew around him in Baghdad.

"Even after he left CNN, Bernie remained a close member of our CNN family providing viewers with context about historic events as recently as last year," Licht said after Shaw's passing.

Shaw received a number of accolades for his journalism, including lifetime achievement awards from the Edward R. Murrow Awards and National Association of Black Journalists. He was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in 1999, two years before his official retirement from CNN.

Dwight Smith, 58: Cubs Baseball Player

Chicago Cubs
1991 SPX/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Former Cubs outfielder Dwight Smith died July 22. Smith spent parts of eight seasons in the majors, from 1989 until 1996.

Smith was selected by the Cubs in the 1984 draft, and played in the minor leagues until being promoted to the major league team in 1989.

Smith played alongside Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, and Joe Girardi, among other household names, as the 1989 the Cubs won the National League Eastern Division championship.

In 1989 – as recalled by Matt Snyder of CBS Sports – Smith hit 19 doubles, six triples, and nine homers. He had 52 RBI, 52 runs, nine stolen bases, and 2.3 WAR in just 109 games. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting to fellow Cubs outfielder Jerome Walton, Snyder reported.

Smith played for the Cubs through 1993, and moved on to the California Angels and Baltimore Orioles in 1994 before signing with the Atlanta Braves the following year.

Smith was a member of the World Series champion Braves in 1995, picking up a pinch-hit single in Game 2, a Braves win. 

Smith's son, Dwight Smith Jr., has appeared in 122 career MLB games for the Blue Jays and Orioles.

Walter E. Smithe Jr., 86: Furniture Businessman

Walter E. Smithe Furniture & Design

Walter Edward Smithe Jr., the founder of Chicago's Walter E. Smithe Furniture & Design, died Oct. 9.

Smithe was born to Margaret Slifka and Walter E. Smithe Sr., and grew up in the Northwest Side's Belmont Central neighborhood. He received a Bachelor of Philosophy in Commerce from the University of Notre Dame in 1958.

During a stint in the Army, Smithe attained the rank of captain and became an expert in the field of computers.

Smithe then went into the computer industry – working for General Electric and IBM in 1967, according to his obit. But he soon returned to the family furniture business that his father first started in 1945, and pioneered the concept of custom-order furniture in the Chicago area.

This led to the development of Walter E. Smithe Furniture & Design.

The company has become known over the years in particular for its quirky TV commercials – Chicago TV viewers have long known the jingle, "Walter E. Smithe, you dream it we build it." Smithe's three sons the Smithe brothers – Mark, Tim, and Walter III – became executives in the business and were regularly featured in the commercials. The Smithe sisters – Walter III's daughters Maureen, Meghan, Caitie, and Colleen – are also now executives at Walter E. Smithe Furniture & Design and appear in the ads.

Walter E. Smithe Jr. also earned a master's degree in Anthropology at Loyola University Chicago in 1980. He was still spending weekends at Smithe furniture showrooms until recently – and he volunteered for many years for Habitat for Humanity, building houses in the U.S. and Central America.

Pervis Spann, 89: Disc Jockey, Concert Promoter, Media Entrepreneur

Spann Family

Pervis Spann died March 14 of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He became a Chicago icon over six decades.

Spann was first hired by Chess Records cofounder Leonard Chess as a disc jockey on WVON radio – a station he himself would later own. He became the most popular disc jockey on the overnight time slot and held that distinction for more than 10 years, according to the radio station.

Spann's fondness for blues music led him to be known as "The Blues man." He was also known as one of the "Good Guys," a group of popular WVON radio DJs that also included the late Herb Kent, the Cool Gent.

It is said that Spann first labeled Aretha Franklin the Queen of Soul, and labeled B.B. King the "King of the Blues."

Spann was the co-founder of WVON parent company Midway Broadcasting Corporation and served as president of the station. He also owned radio stations in Memphis; Atlanta; and Jacksonville, Florida.

"When we talk about somebody building a radio station, you think, 'OK they get the license from the FCC,'" Spann's daughter, Melody Spann Cooper, told CBS 2's Irika Sargent in March. "No, he was literally in the grass with the antennas."

Spann Cooper said when her dad came up with new business ideas, she would say, "Dad, that's crazy." But he always found his way to make a success, and she hopes his determination inspires the next generation to do it too.  

Melody Spann Cooper, daughter of Pervis Spann 'The Blues Man,' remembers her father's determination 03:46

Bruce Sutter, 69: Cubs Pitcher

Chicago Cubs
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Hall of Fame pitcher Bruce Sutter, who won the 1979 Cy Young award as the closer for the Cubs, died Oct. 13.

The Baseball Hall of Fame said Bruce Sutter died in Cartersville, Georgia. He had been diagnosed with cancer sometime earlier.

Sutter played for the Cubs for five seasons from 1976 to 1980, making four All-Star teams in that time, and collecting 133 saves, second-most in franchise history behind fellow Hall of Famer Lee Smith.

Sutter is considered one of the first pitchers to throw a split-finger fastball. The right-hander played 12 seasons in the major leagues, was a six-time All-Star and ended up with 300 saves over his career.

The Baseball Hall of Fame said in a release that he learned the split-finger fastball from a Cubs minor-league pitching instructor while recovering from surgery on his right elbow.

Sutter debuted with the Chicago Cubs in 1976. The reliever won the Cy Young in 1979 in a season where he had 37 saves, 2.22 ERA, and 110 strikeouts.

He went on to join the St. Louis Cardinals and played with them from 1981 to 1984. There, he won a World Series in 1982, ending Game 7 against the Brewers with a strikeout.

His last save, No. 300, came with the Atlanta Braves in 1988. Sutter was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Judy Tenuta, 72: Comedian

The Hollywood Museum Celebrates "The Silence Of The Lambs" 30th Anniversary
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Judy Tenuta, a west suburban native and brash standup who cheekily styled herself as the "Love Goddess," died Oct. 6 of ovarian cancer.

Tenuta toured with George Carlin as she built her career in the 1980s golden age of comedy.

Tenuta was born in Oak Park, grew up in Maywood, and attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, according to published reports.

She had claimed her birthdate as Nov. 7, 1965, but she was born in 1949, publicist Roger Neal said. "She was old school so she would never tell her real age, but now that she's gone we can tell her real age," he added.

Tenuta's heart-shaped face, topped by bouffant hair with a flower accent, conveyed an impression of sweet innocence that was quickly shattered by her loud, gravelly delivery and acidic humor, expletives included. The accordion she made part of her act was "an instrument of love and submission," as she fondly called it.

Tenuta gained national attention in 1987 with "On Location: Women of the Night," an HBO special in which she starred with Ellen DeGeneres, Paula Poundstone, and Rita Rudner.

In 1988′s "American Comedy Awards" TV special, Tenuta was named best female comedy club performer opposite male winner Jerry Seinfeld. Other honorees that year for their club or screen work included Robin Williams, Lily Tomlin, and Bette Midler.

"I would trade it in a minute, if I could just be a wife and mother," wisecracked the gold lamé-wrapped, gum-chewing Tenuta, who accepted her award from Carlin.

She was a frequent guest on late-night talk shows and game shows and with radio shock jock Howard Stern. Her acting and voiceover credits were eclectic, including appearances on "The Weird Al Show" and "Space Ghost Coast to Coast." She appeared onstage in "The Vagina Monologues" in Los Angeles and Chicago.

Tenuta was a two-time Grammy nominee, getting back-to-back nominations in 1995 and 1996 for best spoken word comedy album for "Attention Butt Pirates and Lesbetarians" and "In Goddess We Trust."

She was a supporter of LGBTQ rights, taking part in pride festivals and counting members of the queer community as enthusiastic fans. On her website, she said that as an ordained minister of Judyism, she was "available for same sex marriages!"

While growing up in the western suburbs, Tenuta attended Catholic schools that included one she dubbed, "St. Obnoxious and Bondage." She said she was the "isolated, petite flower" - Petite Flower becoming one of her stage nicknames - in a Catholic family that included six brothers.

After graduating from college, she worked at odd jobs that included wrapping meat and taking inventory at an outlet for Catholic religious attire.

"I got fired because they caught me trying the stuff on," Tenuta said a 1989 interview with The Associated Press. "So the boss came in, and I guess he got kind of upset. And I said, 'Well, I have to see if they look good, pig. I'm trying to make improvements for these broads."'

Tenuta went on to join Chicago's Second City comedy troupe before starting her solo standup career. Despite her outlandish clothes and bizarre stage appearance, Tenuta said most people caught on immediately to her act, which included the self-centered "Judyism" religion.

Paul Zimbrakos, 86: City News Bureau Chief

Colonial-Wojciechowski Funeral Home

Paul Zimbrakos, a legendary editor at the City News Bureau who taught generations of young journalists hands-on in Chicago, died May 31.

Zimbrakos joined City News in January 1958, and was still at the helm as the bureau chief when the renowned wire service finally closed on the last day of 2005. Legions of reporters who passed through City News over the years remember Zimbrakos for his attention to detail, his wisdom and knowledge, and the guidance he provided in a role that many would describe as more a teacher than a boss.

Zimbrakos was the son of immigrants from the Greek island of Crete, and a graduate of Austin High School and Roosevelt University. As noted in a mini-biography for his 2005 lifetime achievement award from the Chicago Headline Club, Zimbrakos first came to City News as a reporter – but was called away within a year to serve in the U.S. Army. He often told the story of going through basic training in the Army alongside Elvis Presley.

Zimbrakos returned to City News in 1961, rising through the ranks to become the managing editor of the wire service. Founded in 1890, City News provided 24/7 coverage of the police beat in Chicago, as well as coverage of City Hall, the Cook County Building, federal court, and Cook County civil and criminal court for the city's major newspapers and radio and television stations.

The legendary motto of City News was, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out" – and they meant it literally. As Zimbrakos told the Associated Press in a 2005 story, a reporter who turned in a story about a child who had swallowed a Christmas ornament was sent back to a rewrite, "asking him to find out what color the ornament was."

Never one to shout at his reporters, Zimbrakos could still easily show his disappointment with his staff with a simple quirk of his scruffy eyebrows or a twitch of his signature mustache. His "attaboy" or "attagirl" praise for exceptional work was rare, but no less cherished by the cub reporters he took under his wing.

While City News was known as a training ground which young reporters were expected to use as a stepping stone to other jobs, Zimbrakos stayed on – mostly, according to his Headline Club bio, because he enjoyed teaching young people.

The original City News Bureau closed in 1999 after the Chicago Sun-Times pulled out of a joint ownership agreement, but was reorganized as the City News Service under Chicago Tribune control. Zimbrakos remained at the helm as bureau chief from an office off the Tribune newsroom until the Tribune closed City News in 2005.

After City News closed, Zimbrakos taught a City News Bureau course at Loyola University.

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