clock menu more-arrow no yes

Obituaries

Memorializing notable Chicagoans and people from around the world who have recently died.

Filed under:

Mona Graham, former Niles bank VP who survived 1944 circus disaster, dead at 87

The ‘Day the Clowns Cried’ fire at a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show in Hartford, Connecticut, claimed 168 lives and spawned books, films and reforms.

Filed under:

Iconic Little Village ‘paletero’ Fidencio Sanchez dies

Sanchez "passed away from complications of sepsis," a family friend announced.

Filed under:

Acclaimed novelist Ernest Gaines, dies at 86

His critically acclaimed work included "A Lesson Before Dying," published in 1993, "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" (1971) and "A Gathering of Old Men" (1984).

Filed under:

Walter Mercado, iconic Puerto Rican astrologer, dies at 88

Mercado was a star in Latin media and a cherished icon for gay people in most of the Spanish-speaking world.

Filed under:

Actor Brian Tarantina, featured in ‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,’ ‘Gilmore Girls,’ dead at 60

He also appeared on Broadway and in Spike Lee’s "BlacKkKlansman" and the "Law & Order" franchise.

Filed under:

Miller’s Pub’s Van Gallios, last surviving original owner of longtime Loop hot spot, has died at 86

The bar became a clubby beacon in the night for on-the-road ballplayers and touring celebs who were staying around the corner at the Palmer House.

Filed under:

Artist John M. Downs, a witness to history in a long career with Sun-Times, Daily News, has died

Taught by artist LeRoy Neiman at the School of the Art Institute, he stared down John Gacy as he sketched the serial killer in court. He won. Gacy broke eye contact first.

Filed under:

Actor-comedian John Witherspoon dies at 77

Witherspoon, who memorably played Ice Cube’s father in the "Friday" films, died at 77.

Filed under:

Elegant educator Enid W. Collins dies at 83; taught students about dance, classical music, achieving dreams

"You have to imagine scores of little black girls doing ballet from someone who is so complimentary, so generous of heart and supportive," said Keisha Turner, a former member of Urban Bush Women. Mrs. Collins "provided a safe space. Nobody was like, ‘Take your braids out of your hair and put it in a bun.’ "

Filed under:

Robert Evans, producer of ‘Chinatown,’ ‘The Godfather’ dies at 89

After his aspiring acting career faded, Evans re-emerged as head of production at Paramount Pictures and quickly converted the studio from a maker of mediocre films to the biggest hit machine in Hollywood, home to "Love Story" and more.

Filed under:

John Conyers, longest serving black congressman, dies at 90

Known as the dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, which he helped found, Conyers became one of only six black House members when he was won his first election in 1964.

Filed under:

Vivian Meehan, ‘founding mother of eating-disorder treatment in the country,’ has died at 94

‘Young women who had bulimia and anorexia nervosa had their lives saved by her,’ a Northbrook neurologist says of the Highland Park nurse.

Filed under:

Bishop James Montgomery dies at 98; headed Episcopal Diocese of Chicago; offered cathedral for meeting between Mayor Daley, MLK

Bishop James W. Montgomery served as ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. It is headquartered at St. James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron St., where President Abraham Lincoln once worshipped.

Filed under:

Rob Warmowski, dead at 52, started surf-punk band the Defoliants, also played with Buzzmuscle, SIRS

UPDATED: A benefit concert in the musician’s memory is being held from 5 to 10 p.m. Oct. 21 at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., with Steve Albini as emcee and dozens of Chicago musicians performing.

Filed under:

Actor Bill Macy, co-starred on ‘Maude,’ dies at 97

His stint as Walter Findlay on the CBS sitcom that aired from 1972-78 was Macy’s highest-profile in a long stage, film and TV career.

Filed under:

Renowned headache expert Dr. Seymour Diamond, who embraced transgender actor-grandson, dead at 94

Zach Barack came out as his ‘Papa’ turned 90. The doctor’s daughter says: ‘My dad called Zach and told him he loved him no matter what . . . He got everything he could read on transgender issues and educated himself.’

Filed under:

Labor trailblazer Geraldine ‘Jerre’ McPartlin dies at 91

Her colleagues have called her "tough as nails" but noted she was also "positive and affirming."

Filed under:

U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings dies from ‘longstanding health challenges’

The longtime Maryland representative died early Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital, his congressional office said in a statement.

Filed under:

Stefan Edlis dies at 94; war refugee became plastics magnate, donated valued pieces to Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Institute

In 2015, he and his wife, Gael Neeson, gave a record-setting cache to the Art Institute – 42 pieces of art valued at more than $500 million, a donation featured in the 2018 HBO art documentary, "The Price of Everything."

Filed under:

K-Pop star Sulli, 25, found dead at her South Korea home

She was known for her feminist voice and outspokenness that was rare among female entertainers in deeply conservative South Korea.

Filed under:

Robert Forster, Oscar nominee for ‘Jackie Brown,’ dies at 78

Forster’s publicist Kathie Berlin said he died Friday at home in Los Angeles of brain cancer following a brief illness. He was surrounded by family, including his four children and partner Denise Grayson.

Filed under:

Richard Pfeiffer, longtime Chicago Pride Parade coordinator, has died at 70

Under his leadership, the Chicago Pride Parade grew from a few hundred participants in its early years to what’s estimated to be hundreds of thousands

Filed under:

Rip Taylor, wacky comedian and game-show regular, dead at 88

Taylor made a name for himself by being outrageous. The self-described "King of Confetti," he was a favorite on everything from variety shows to talk shows to sitcoms.

Filed under:

Ginger Baker, iconic British rock drummer, dies at 80

Baker, best known as the drummer in Cream, is widely considered one of rock’s greatest percussionists.

Filed under:

Diahann Carroll, pioneering actress, Oscar nominee and singer has died at 84

The actress died at her home after a long battle with cancer.

Filed under:

Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s father, dead at 92; services Sunday in Skokie

The longtime Wilmette resident and his wife raised the former mayor there and his brothers — Hollywood super agent Ari Emanuel and medical bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel ‘Zeke’ Emanuel — and a daughter, Shoshana Emanuel.

Filed under:

Singer Annette Butler, married for 60 years to soul star Jerry ‘Iceman’ Butler, dead at 81

She sang backup for her husband in the latter days of his singing career, before he became a Cook County commissioner.

Filed under:

Jessye Norman, legendary opera star, dies at 74

Her passionate soprano voice won her four Grammy Awards and the National Medal of Arts.

Filed under:

José José, legendary Mexican crooner dies at 71

The power of his voice and ability to sing technically difficult tunes in a wide register made him a treasured cultural icon in Latin America.

Filed under:

Rob Garrison, actor in ‘The Karate Kid’ and ‘Cobra Kai,’ dies at 59

Garrison starred as Tommy in the 1984 hit movie and follow-up series.

Filed under:

Taurino Brito dies at 90; ‘Churro Man’ sold delicious pastries for decades in Pilsen

It wasn’t uncommon for Mr. Brito to sell 500 churros on a weekend. "He was out all day, rain or shine," said Carol Molina, who helps operate Don Churro, the family-owned bakery where Mr. Brito bought the pastries he sold on the streets.

Filed under:

Nancy Hughes, inspiration, trusted adviser and wife of filmmaker John Hughes, has died at 68

When they met at Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, she crossed chasms of cliques to be with him. As newlyweds with little money, she supported his screenwriting dreams.