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Rev. Earlean Miller, first African-American woman ordained a Lutheran pastor, dead at 78

The Rev. Earlean Miller, the first African-American woman ordained a Lutheran pastor in North America, died Nov. 10 at the Alden Princeton health-care center on the South Side of Chicago. She was 78.

Mike Hawkins, poet, mentor to Chance the Rapper, dies


The charisma of “Brother Mike” Hawkins and his encouragement and respect for students drew them to poetry slams, digital media workshops and open mike events, where he urged them to create their own albums and videos, saying they didn’t have to wait for a record deal to make their voice heard.

Jesse C. Robinson, believed to be oldest Pullman porter, dies at 104


Mr. Robinson, a Pullman porter for 35 years, told of taking care of famous passengers including heavyweight boxing champions Jack Dempsey and Sonny Liston. He died in his sleep at his house on Chicago’s South Side.

Tim Mitchell, former Chicago parks chief and Daley aide, dies at 49


Mr. Mitchell's career took off in the 1980s, while he was working for then-State’s Attorney Richael M. Daley. He remained a loyalist throughout Daley’s tenure in public office, holding high-profile positions until the mayor stepped down in 2011.

Thomas J. Durkin, CPA who raised a small political dynasty, dead at 84


Thomas J. Durkin, patron of a political family whose eight sons include the Illinois House Republican leader, a federal judge and five lawyers. died Friday at Plymouth Place senior housing in LaGrange Park, where he’d lived the past two years. He was 84.

Salvatore Ferrara II dies at 63; inspired name of Lemonheads, later ran candymaker


When Salvatore Ferrara II was born by forceps, his temporarily misshapen appearance inspired his dad to call the new lip-puckering candy he invented “Lemonheads.” That was the joke told by family patriarch Nello Ferrara, who invented Lemonheads and Atomic FireBalls at Ferrara Pan Candy Co. His son Salvatore, who joined the company in the mid-’70s and oversaw strong growth and its acquisition of Black Forest Gummy Bears, died on Thanksgiving Day of esophageal cancer at his Oak Brook home. He was 63.

Jesse L. Miller, former alderman, community activist in North Lawndale, dies at 72


Jesse L. Miller, a former North Lawndale alderman and community activist who felt compelled to serve when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. marched the streets of Chicago, died on Nov. 19. He was 72.

Born in Vicksburg, Miss., in 1942, Mr. Miller relocated with …

Norman Schoer, viola player with Grant Park Orchestra and Lyric Opera, dies at 103


Mr. Schoer played with Peggy Lee and Tony Bennett, opera singers Kathleen Battle and Samuel Ramey, and Cold War conqueror Van Cliburn, the Texan who won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958. He was in the Grant Park Orchestra in 1972 when “Appalachian Spring” composer Aaron Copland conducted his own works. Mr. Schoer, 103, died Nov. 6 at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park. He didn’t retire until he was 84. He attributed his longevity to a martini a day “with one drop of vermouth.”

Hazel I. Lowe, owner of South Side boutique known for elegant apparel, dies at 97


For 43 years, Hazel Lowe’s Boutique was a one-stop destination for women who knew Ms. Lowe would deck them out from shoes to chapeau. She dressed the Rev. Johnnie Coleman, founder of Christ Universal Temple; singer Natalie Cole; business leaders; and wives of pastors and bishops. She helped turn a gospel queen into a glamour queen. “Albertina Walker shopped there all the time,” said Henrietta Leak, wife of funeral director Spencer Leak Sr. “She had fabulous clothes. If you ever wanted a one-of-a-kind dress, that’s where you would go, to Hazel Lowe.”

University of Chicago’s Dr. Donald F. Steiner, pioneer in diabetes research, dead at 84


Dr. Donald F. Steiner’s work improved the lives of diabetes patients around the globe. Nearly half a century ago, he discovered that the insulin molecule was composed of a single protein chain, not two, as previously thought. He called it proinsulin.

The best of Mike Nichols


One of the shortest lists in show business is the roster of EGOTs: artists who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony. According to, there are but 13, including Audrey Hepburn, Mel Brooks, Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli. Mike Nichols …

Edward Robinson, Chicago pianist who accompanied gospel greats, dead at 81


Edward Robinson, a Chicago musician who performed at the White House five times and played piano and organ for some of the world’s greatest gospel artists, has died at 81.

Dr. Michael Koller, popular teacher at Loyola medical school, dies at 53


A personal physician to 300 Roman Catholic priests, Dr. Michael Koller urged them to take better care of themselves, saying that they put others first even more often than compassionate doctors do. Dr. Koller, 53, died at his Oak Park home on Nov. 11. He had lived for about 18 years with the effects of a carotid body tumor, a rare cancer of a nerve inside the carotid artery.

Jane Byrne left a colorful legacy


Jane Byrne, who died Friday at age 81, presided over a time of political change in Chicago; she was the city's first, and still its only, female mayor.

Chicago-area woman, one of oldest survivors of Armenian genocide, has died


Helen Paloian was one of the few people left in the world to have witnessed what’s been called the first genocide of the 20th Century, in Armenia. She died Oct. 24 at Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter in Glenview. Her family’s research puts her birth year at 1906, which would make her 108. A Sun-Times check of various records lists birth years for Mrs. Paloian ranging from 1898 to 1910.

Stage designer known for work at Lyric Opera


When the curtain goes up to reveal the phosphorescent dreams and menacing nightmares of Johan Engels, audiences gasp. Though the 62-year-old English stage designer died Friday, Chicago audiences will continue to see his work for several years in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s ultramarathon of classicial music, Wagner’s “Ring” cycle.