Afternoon Edition: Feb. 14, 2022

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Jeanne Gustavson and Steve Watts at home in Cedar Mill, a suburb of Portland, Oregon. Together again after four decades apart, some things are different now, “Our favorite time is napping together,” she says. But their love hasn’t waned.

Jaime Valdez/For the Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

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Afternoon Edition

Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

This afternoon will be cloudy with intermittent flurries and a high near 26 degrees. Tonight will be mostly cloudy with a low around 19. Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy with a high near 38.

Top story

Together at last: a wedding 50 years in the making

They first dated 50 years ago.

But it was only late last year that Steve Watts got up the nerve to pop the question to Jeanne Gustavson.

She thought she misheard. So she made him repeat it.

“Well, of course, I’ll marry you!” she told him.

Now, the couple who met so long ago while students at Loyola University Chicago but saw their love thwarted decades ago by a mother’s hatred are planning their wedding.

Watts, an amputee who has had two strokes, had been living in a south suburban nursing home, thinking he’d been forgotten by the outside world.

Then, last June, he heard from Gustavson. She had tracked down her first love after 42 years apart. Eventually, she brought him back to her home outside Portland, Ore.

They might have married long ago, when Gustavson fell in love with the tall “hunk” who was president of the Loyola German club.

At first, theirs was a secret love because Gustavson is white and Watts is Black, and Gustavson’s mother thought Black people should come into their house only to clean or make repairs.

But Gustavson couldn’t keep the secret. She told her mother, who she says went “ballistic.”

They tried to make things work. But the demands of college life and then of trying to navigate their way in the world led to their breakup after seven years.

Each married someone else, both marriages ending in divorce.

Gustavson and Watts plan to get married in the fall. Read the rest of Stefano Esposito’s story here.

More news you need

  1. Jurors began deliberating in the federal tax trial of Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson this afternoon following closing arguments. Jon Seidel and Tim Novak have more from Dirksen Federal Courthouse.
  2. With a $20 million donation announced this morning, billionaire Ken Griffin made official his support for Aurora mayor Richard Irvin’s GOP primary campaign for governor of Illinois. The big expenditure comes as Griffin, the wealthiest man in Illinois, looks to unseat Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who is also a billionaire.
  3. Development plans are coming in fast and furious for Fulton Market, the city’s busiest real estate market. But the big plans raise questions about how much density the area can take, David Roeder reports.
  4. Mary Ann Thebus, a respected Chicago stage actor who also played the mother in “Rudy,” died last Friday in her Andersonville home at age 89. Read Maureen O’Donnell and Madeline Kenney’s obituary for Thebus.
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A bright one

Park Ridge 6th graders win NASA competition with alligator-shaped space junk collector

Shoot for the moon, and you may just land among the space junk.

At least, that was the case for five 6th graders at St. Paul of the Cross School in Park Ridge.

The all-girl team designed an alligator-shaped space junk collector, with magnetic teeth to chomp down on space trash. The project was among the winners in a nationwide NASA competition.

“We didn’t think we’d win,” said team member Renata McCoy, 11. “We thought we had no chance. … The whole grade went crazy. We were in shock.”

The inaugural NASA TechRise Student Challenge is intended to inspire a deeper understanding of space exploration and expose students to careers in science, technology and space exploration.


The winning team of 6th graders from St. Paul of the Cross. From left to right; Mary Anne Gleason, Keira Demes, Abby Bomely, teacher Karl Ochsner Lily de Tagyos, Renata McCoy.

Courtesy Karl Ochsner

The win comes with $1,500 in project funding for the girls and a ticket to space for the space junk collector they’re going to build.

“We are absolutely thrilled and so proud of our students,” said Principal Erika Mickelburgh. “We’re so excited to see what they build. We’re so excited to see it blast off into space.”

The girls’ project was among 57 winners picked from nearly 600 entries and the only Illinois selection. The competition was open to students in middle school or high school; the Park Ridge girls were among the youngest winners.

NASA announced the results Jan. 21 on a livestream as the whole school watched.

Read the rest of Josephine Stratman’s story here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

Who would you like to see perform in a future Super Bowl halftime show?

Send us an email at and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

On Friday, we asked you: Where’s the best place to go on a date in Chicago? Here’s what some of you said...

“Any of the museums - especially the Art Institute, Grant Park, Navy Pier, a good restaurant, a walk along the lake shore, the possibilities are endless.” — Beverly Brown

“Field Museum. Then walk along the lake.” — Marc Nash

“The grocery store ... inflation is a MF right now.” — Brian Althimer

“Millennium Park summer concert by the Grant Park Orchestra, then dinner at Shaw’s!” — Carol Hafer

“Visit Bahai Temple along Sheridan Road in Wilmette, along with the adjacent harbor. Dynamite place for a picnic, followed up with dinner and a movie at the New 400 Theater near Loyola University’s lake shore campus.” — Bert Freeman

“Gibson Steakhouse and stay at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel and go to the 96th floor Signature Room for drinks.” — Bernard Maddox

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