Two years ago Lynne “Angel” Harvey was touring the Infant Welfare Society of Oak Park-River Forest with then-president Mary Anderson. Harvey told Anderson, referring to the clinic, “You know, you’re small but mighty.”

Many were saying the same of Angel Harvey on Monday.

The longtime River Forest resident and wife of legendary radio broadcaster Paul Harvey died at home early Saturday morning, May 3, after a year-long battle with leukemia. Harvey wore many hats and earned numerous accolades in her nine decades, including being the first producer ever inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.

Beyond her fame, however, many River Forest and Oak Park residents who knew her mourned the loss of a valued role model and benefactor.

“She was a wonderful friend to us,” said Anderson. “She really taught me the meaning of philanthropy.”

Chatka Ruggiero, a charter member of the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation’s Women Leaders in Philanthropy and chairman of the board of the Animal Care League, first met Mrs. Harvey in 1978, the year the Ruggieros’ home served as the Designer’s Showcase House for the Infant Welfare Society (IWS) benefit.

“She really was just a lady,” Ruggiero recalled, “so warm-hearted. She was a dear friend. It was an honor to have known her.” Ruggiero credited Harvey with being the supportive force behind such charitable and philanthropic concerns as the Animal Care League, the Infant Welfare Society and Brookfield Zoo.

She noted that Harvey’s kindness was both a public and a private reality. During a visit, the family cat crawled onto Harvey’s lap and fell asleep. Harvey refused to move until the cat awoke.

“I told her to just set the cat aside, and she said, ‘Oh, no,'” recalled Ruggiero. “She wouldn’t get up until the cat was ready to move.”

Harvey’s primary concern was always the benefit at hand.

“She always said, ‘We have to do this well because every penny is going back to the children,'” said Anderson, noting that Harvey was satisfied with the most basic acknowledgement in return.

“She just wanted a smile and a thank-you.”

Radio pioneer

Then there was broadcasting. Its practice and history were passions of both the Harveys. Radio was an undeveloped art form in the late 1930s. Angel and Paul Harvey helped craft the art of broadcast radio and presented it to the American public for more than 60 years. Throughout, she served as her husband’s producer, director, editor and writer, as well as his top advisor. On her urging, the couple moved to the Chicago area in 1944. In 1951 they joined the ABC Radio Network.

In 1997 Angel Harvey became the first producer to be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. In 2005 the Harveys gave Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Journalism $1 million. The gift was over and above the more than $2 million they had already contributed since 1987 to the museum, which was founded by Oak Park resident and veteran radio and television broadcaster Bruce DuMont.

In a Chicago Tribune article Sunday, DuMont said she was no less a talent than her husband. He noted that Mrs. Harvey set aside her own on-air radio aspirations to work in the background as producer for her husband.

“She crafted the most successful radio career of all time,” DuMont told the Tribune. “She was to Paul Harvey what Col. Parker was to Elvis Presley.”

Last year, as she began her battle with leukemia, Harvey gave as much of her time as she could to the Infant Welfare’s 90th anniversary gala celebration. Harvey was honorary chairman of the Showcase House kickoff last Sept. 7, a preview party titled, “A Starry Night.” The photo accompanying this article was taken then.

River Forest Village President Frank Paris recalled speaking with Angel Harvey for the last time at that event. He said he didn’t know her, well but remembered her as personable and approachable.

“She certainly was a great woman who did everything she could [for issues she cared about] up to the end,” said Paris.

Monday afternoon and evening, several hundred people attended the visitation at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home. The funeral service was held Tuesday afternoon at 4th Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, followed by private entombment.

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