Lon Grahnke, 56, formerly of Oak Park, a longtime Sun-Times editor and reporter, and sometime actor at Village Players, died on Sept. 1, 2006 at The Renaissance at Midway nursing home in Chicago of complications from Alzheimer's disease.
Grahnke had an enthusiasm for precision in journalism, reportedly kicking over waste bins in the newsroom if he found punctuation out of place, according to the obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times. According to the Tribune, he was the epitome of the blue-collar journalist, bringing his lunch to work every day from his Oak Park home and hardly ever calling in sick. A co-worker at the Sun-Times joked with Grahnke that he should share his surplus of unused sick days.
He grew up in west suburban Lyons and was an avid White Sox fan, graduating from Morton West High School in 1968 and Columbia College in 1972 as class valedictorian. Protesting the war in Vietnam got him interested in journalism. He became a copy editor at Suburban Week, a pullout section in the Chicago Daily News and Sun-Times, and later became editor when the name was changed to the Suburban Sun-Times. He then was appointed as the first editor of the Weekend Plus section, contributing a weekly column about professional wrestling, one of his passions as a child. He finished his writing career as a television critic, general reporter, and finally an obituary writer. The Tribune quoted his wife, Gwen Gotsch, whom he met in a 1978 production of "Arsenic and Old Lace" at Oak Park's Village Players and married in 1982, as saying Grahnke liked writing obituaries because he could hear people's life stories. He retired in 2001 because of the early onset Alzheimer's.
In addition to his wife, Lon Grahnke is survived by his two sons, Kris and Kurt, and a daughter, Eliza, whose pictures covered the walls of his Sun-Times office. In addition, he's survived by his parents, Grace and Arthur Grahnke and brother, Gary.
A memorial service will be held at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 6, at Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 Division St., River Forest.
State rep candidate Glenn Harris dies
Glenn Harris, a three-time candidate for 8th District state representative, died this past weekend. Harris, 47, was a Chicago resident and Republican opponent for the 8th District seat, which covers portions of Oak Park. Harris was set to challenge Democratic opponent LaShawn Ford in the November election.
Harris died on Sunday. Details about his death were unavailable as of Tuesday, but the Cook County Medical Examiner's office said Tuesday that Harris' autopsy results awaited a toxicology report, which would be available in 4-6 weeks.
Harris graduated from Westinghouse High School on Chicago's West Side, and later attended Triton College where he earned a degree as a certified automotive technician. He married at age 22, and leaves behind a wife, eight daughters and three sons. Harris first ran for 8th District state representative in 2001.
Maze bricks should be in the ground soon
The bricks should be in by Sept. 11. No, it has nothing to do with the fifth anniversary of 9/11. Just coincidence, but the memorial fundraising bricks at the Maze Branch Library should be installed by then, said Jim Madigan, library assistant director. HOY landscaping is doing the work, under the supervision of Carol Yetken Associates landscape design firm. The library will install 217 bricks.
Meanwhile, the Maze landscaping continues to be a work in progress. The most noticeable item on their to-do list, Madigan said is replacing the crabapple tree on the southeast corner which died after being damaged during the renovation. They also had a serviceberry tree ordered that died in transit and had to be replaced, and two or three evergreen bushes went brown after being planted. That happens, Madigan said. Plants ordered may look fine when they arrive, but after being planted they die, and were possibly already dying enroute. Everything's under warranty, though, so it just gets "swapped out," he said.