Obituaries

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Sue Rizzo, 84, community and environmental activist
Every decision Sue Rizzo made, even the most seemingly miniscule, was made with care towards things important to her. She once selected her phone service provider because the company wasn't invested in anything she considered of social value.

Where most would be concerned about nickels and dimes, Ms. Rizzo wanted to make sure the money she paid toward her phone bills wasn't going to a company that in some way harmed the environment or helped indirectly to support apartheid.

"She always lived what she believed," said Denise Sacks, co-president of the Oak Park/River Forest League of Women Voters (LWV), a non-partisan political organization Ms. Rizzo was involved with for most of her adult life.

Ms. Rizzo was presented the highest honor bestowed by the LWV in 1994 in the form of the Hazel Hanson Award, given to members who exemplify the league and impact the community in a positive, enduring way.

Sue Rizzo, 84, an Oak Park resident for almost 30 years, died Dec. 19 at Rush Oak Park Hospital from complications due to a brain aneurysm.

"She truly was an amazing role model for the younger members," said Priscilla Mims, past president of the LWV (2003-05). "They were inspired and impressed by her. ... She was engaged and interested in everything and everybody."

"She was just an incredibly vibrant, intellectually active person," said Elizabeth Lippitt, also a former league president.

Margot Clayton, another LWV member, said she served with Ms. Rizzo on the league's "Great Decisions" group, which meets the first six months of every year to discuss foreign policy issues.

"She was concerned about honesty and integrity in government," Clayton said. "And she was interested in putting forth energy on things that mattered to her, rather than having others do it for her."

Born Sue Gudakunst in Roswell, N.M., on Apr. 14, 1922, she was raised in Fayetteville, Mo. and obtained degrees at Central Methodist College in Fayetteville, and the University of Chicago, where she met her late husband, Pete Rizzo.

Mr. Rizzo was a chemist who also traveled for his work, forcing the family to move often. The Rizzo family spent time living in Shaker Heights, Ohio; and Long Neck and Brooklyn, N.Y., where their only son, Philip, was born.

Occasionally, the Rizzos would vacation at Montauk Point on Long Island in the 1960s, where the father and son would go deep sea fishing. Returning home, Ms. Rizzo would cook up whatever they caught for dinner.

She was always a "hell of a cook" according to her son. Lasagna, clam dip and cranberry sauce made from scratch were some of her specialties.

The family moved to Oak Park from Long Neck in 1978 after Mr. Rizzo was offered a job there. He died shortly after at the age of 51 from a rare genetic disorder called Von Recklinghausen's disease. Mr. Rizzo was told by doctors when he was in the navy in his 20s that he wouldn't make it past the age of 50. The Rizzo family "celebrated big time" after he reached that age, Phil Rizzo, 49, said. However, his father died a year later.

Ms. Rizzo never remarried, but after the loss of her husband, she began exchanging letters with an old friend from the University of Chicago, Donald Fort, a retired chemist living in Washington D.C. The two shared the common bond of losing a loved one, with Fort having lost his wife in 1979. They eventually reunited in Oak Park in 1982 and lived and traveled together for over 22 years until Fort died in 2005 at the age of 88.

She worked as a journalist, writing a column for the Bayside Times in N.Y. for about eight years in the 1970s before coming to Oak Park. She was one of Wednesday Journal's original investors. Mrs. Rizzo also worked at the Chicago Field Museum in the 1980s for about seven years.

Caring for the environment was of utmost importance to Ms. Rizzo, and she walked that talk-literall walking everywhere, all over Oak Park, wearing her trademark beret. She liked to walk to the post office from her Washington Boulevard condo and then go around the village delivering mail to the board members of the LWV. She would also walk to Christ Episcopal Church in River Forest where she was a devout member.

She also loved to swim at the Oak Park YMCA, served on the Farmers' Market Commission, promoted the use of public transportation and rode a bike to help preserve the environment. Sometimes she'd go door-to-door asking people to sign petitions about political issues that mattered to her.

Ms. Rizzo's upbringing instilled her deep concern for the environment.

"My great grandfather and my grandfather and my pop were all very concerned with the environment long before it was popular," Philip Rizzo said. "When we lived in New York, we used to get involved in a lot of recycling, big time, before anyone was making money off of it. We'd go down to this bay once a year and everybody would get involved pulling tires out of the water and picking up garbage. It was always like that [in our family]."

Other than her son and his wife, Amy, Sue Rizzo is survived by four grandchildren: Peter, Ashley, Amber, and Ryan.

Her funeral service was held Dec. 27 at Christ Episcopal Church.
-Marty Stempniak


William Andersen, 76, Paper purchaser
William Andersen, 76 of Forest Park died on Dec. 28, 2006 at Villa Scalabrini retirement home in Melrose Park. A former Oak Park resident, Mr. Andersen was born in Chicago on Nov. 9, 1930 to Harvey and Margaret Andersen. He graduated from Our Lady Help of Christians Elementary School and Fenwick High School. He served as a Dominican brother for seven years under the name Edward.

Mr. Andersen worked in customer service for the Moser Paper Co. for 20 years and the International Paper Co. as a purchasing agent for another 20 years. He retired in 1995. Art, opera, music and theater all had a firm grasp on Mr. Andersen's interest, but his most cherished hobby was giving service and performing good deeds for others.

He is survived by his brother, John (Delphine) Andersen and his niece, Dawn (John) Wilsen, as well as his two nephews, Christopher (Angela) Andersen and Timothy (Lynn) Andersen. Mr. Andersen also had a brother, the late Robert Andersen.

Visitation was held Jan. 2 at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home. Funeral Mass was celebrated Jan. 3 at St. Edmund Church, followed by interment at Woodlawn Cemetery. Memorials to the American Kidney Foundation, the American Liver Foundation or Catholic Relief Services are appreciated.

 

Conrad Aumann, 73, Concordia athletic director, coach
Conrad Aumann, 73, died on Dec. 23, 2006 at the Bethesda Home. Born Sept. 17, 1933 to Leonard and Clara Aumann in Detroit, Mich, where he was also raised, he graduated from Valparaiso University with a degree in physical education and later obtained his master's degree in physical eduction from Wayne State University. The faculty at Concordia University in River Forest welcomed Mr. Aumann in 1964 as its athletic director and professor of physical education.

Between the years of 1964 and 1991, he coached football (1964-82), baseball (1965-78), softball (1984-91) and junior varsity basketball (1964). In 1984, Mr. Aumann coached the Concordia Cougars softball team to conference and Metro Chicago championships. It was the first time a Concordia softball team was ever invited to participate in the NCAA Division III playoffs. He also led the football team to its best regular season record, 7-2, in 1968. In 1975 he was named NAIA Football Coach of the year. His last great accomplishment was guiding the 1979 baseball team to an 18-6 record. Mr. Aumann retired from his position at Concordia in 1999 after 35 years of ministry there.

He is survived by his son, James (Dottie) and his daughter, Lori; his mother, Clara; his grandchildren, Becky, Rachel, Rosie and Sarah; his brother, Roger (Pat); and his sister, Christine (Richard) Abrecht.

A visitation and funeral service were held Dec. 28 at Concordia University, 7400 Augusta, River Forest. Interment was private. Memorials to the American Parkinson Disease Association or Concordia Athletic Department are appreciated. Arrangements were handled by Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home.

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