Richard John Wiora, 96, of Oak Park, radio news broadcaster and announcer for the Harlem Globetrotters, died on Sunday, March 6.
Mr. Wiora's professional name was Dick Elliott. He had a distinctive and memorable voice, familiar to many listeners in Chicago and its suburbs on WIND Radio 560. He also worked at WLS and WJJD in Chicago. But he started out modestly at a station in Ottumwa, Iowa, as Santa, handing out candy to kids at Christmas time and then announcing the current price of corn on air.
He was born on Oct. 5, 1919, in Chicago, the son of John Wiora, who was a railroad worker out of Chicago, and Agnes (née Drish) from Iowa. He attended St. Mary of the Lake Seminary. This vocation was not fulfilled as he suffered a severe spinal injury at the hands of a fellow student playing a prank. After he returned to his family in Chicago, a good friend, Lee Olsen, taught him photography. He bought an 8x10 Graflex camera and his next job was doing the photo finishes for races at Arlington for the Sun-Times sports section.
One unforgettable night on his way home, he heard over his police scanner of a fire raging at Our Lady of the Angels School. He was on the scene before the firemen and set up a remote telephone connection to WIND at a nearby store. There was nothing else he could do but document the tragedy by voice and photos.
He met his lifelong love, Dorothy Traeger, when he was working at The Palmer House in Chicago, where she and her sister, Darline, were performing a vaudeville act of tap dance and accordion music as The Traeger Sisters. He volunteered to show them the sights of Chicago and the rest is history. They had been married 54 years when Dorothy died in 1999.
After retirement from WIND, Mr. Wiora taught a class in journalism ethics at Columbia College Chicago.
He is survived by six children, Diana, Steven (Sherry), Debra (Pat Blumer) Wiora, Danny, Susan (Peter) Murphy and Karen (Greg) Blackaller; and six grandchildren, Sarah and Samuel Wiora, Becki Blumer, Will Wiora, Daniel Murphy and Lindsey Blackaller.
Visitation will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, at Dreschler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home, 203 S. Marion St., in Oak Park. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 10 at Saint Giles Church, followed by interment at Queen of Heaven Cemetery.
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