That’s right, we said it: Thank you, Stella, for 43 years!
By Stella Foster firstname.lastname@example.org August 6, 2012 1:36AM
11-20-03 Stella Foster, columist. Photo by Jim Frost Sun-Times.
Updated: September 7, 2012 6:14AM
T HIS is my final column for the Chicago Sun-Times.
And in the words of the late Frank Sinatra:
“And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain. My [readers], I’ll say it clear, I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain. I’ve lived a life that’s full, I’ve traveled each and every highway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way!”
NOW SINCE I got that out of way, per Kool and the Gang: “Celebrate good times come on! It’s a celebration!”
YES, I AM going to retire as of Monday (my birthday) after 43 years of devoted service to the Sun-Times, but not before I serve up the news to my wonderful and faithful readers:
MY THANKS to the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans for unanimously voting me as the honorary grand marshal of the Oct. 8 Columbus Day Parade. I will be the first African American to ever lead this prestigious parade and show of ethnic pride. “Stella represents the best and brightest of the beautiful mosaic, which is America,” said parade chairman Vince Naccarato. The president emeritus of the JCCIA, Dominic DiFrisco said, “Stella means star in Italian and she has illuminated our city and our lives for 43 years ... Her light will never dim.”
Wow! What an honor and such a shock! I am deeply appreciative and hope I don’t bring too much flava to the parade! WLS-channel 7’s Janet Davies and DiFrisco will emcee as usual for this annually televised event.
By the way, DiFrisco will be honored by the Justinian Society of Italian American Lawyers with a lifetime achievement award at their dinner at the Renaissance Hotel Sept. 12. And state Rep. Franco Coladipietro will receive the award of excellence.
THANK YOU to the Friends of Chicago State University Foundation for selecting this humble columnist to receive their Friends of CSU award Sept. 20 at their 18th annual gala at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Valerie Van Meter, senior vice prez at the Federal Reserve Bank, is the other honoree. WFLD -Channel 32 anchor Robin Robinson will emcee.
I WANT TO THANK the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the hard-working Operation PUSH family for their beautiful and touching tribute to this columnist during the PUSH broadcast Saturday. And the very faithful PUSH member, insurance giant Hank Schwab, 98, was front and center. If you want to read more about the event, check out Lauren Fitzpatrick’s story in the Aug. 5 Sun-Times.
The Rev. Jackson, wife, Jackie and daughter Santita drove to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., over the weekend to visit their son, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who is “under medical treatment and regaining his strength,” the Rev. Jackson told this reporter. “And he is our son and we love him so dearly.”
WEDDING BELLS: WMAQ-Channel 5’s Art Norman, who did a fabulous job of emceeing the PUSH salute, will marry his sweetie, AT&T exec Terri Diggs on Nov. 10. I requested the job as flower girl ... or I will personally object at the wedding! ... And congrats to PUSH chief of staff, John Mitchell, who will marry his love muffin Corita Wright on Aug. 11.
OTHER NEWS: JUDGE MARK BALLARD is beaming over the prospect of his cute Boston Terrier puppy, Mugsy, may be featured in the Food Network’s new show “$24 in 24 Hours” premiering Sept. 23. A TV crew was in town filming at Mario’s Italian Lemonade on Taylor Street and Mugsy got in on the action....Chicago’s Kandria Daniels, 37, a claims supervisor for Sedgwick Co., and single mom of one, was diagnosed with breast cancer in May and in a show of strong friendship, her wonderful posse of friends, Tomeka McGee-Holloway, Sonia and Kisha Brown threw a hair-cutting celebration called “I am Not My Hair” in solidarity with Daniels, who suffered hair loss due to the chemo treatments. How nice!...A hot new restaurant/gallery Mezcalina, owned by Benjamin Fernandez, at 333 East Benton Place, opens late this month....Joe Ahern, head of the One Hundred Club of Chicago, getting the “Irish Man of the Year” award from the Emerald Society of Illinois Sept. 14....
THE SIGHTS: Sexy pop star Enrique Iglesias was seen dining at Gibsons. And on a separate evening, Dr. Linda O’Bannon and PR diva Dori Wilson dined.... Donna Lear of Hyde Park Florist, provided the flowers for first mother-in-law Marian Robinson’s July 30 birthday, which she celebrated with friends in Chicago....The Sept. issue of Sister2Sister mag, owned by Dr. Lorenzo and Jamie Brown and sons Randy Foster Brown and Russell Foster Brown, has R&B artist Ne-Yo and his baby mama Monyetta on the cover— and the inside story is very revealing about their love.
MY COMPUTER has been flooded with amazing comments about my retirement from my devoted and upset readers. I’ve had a long and exciting journey at this paper that started off Sept. 1, 1969, when I became the secretary to the legendary Irv “Kup” Kupcinet, who died in November 2003 at age 91. And thanks to then bosses John Cruickshank and Michael Cooke, I was asked to do columns on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Stella’s Column debuted Dec. 2, 2003. I want my readers to know how much I appreciate all of them, and here are some of their emails:
“I have been reading your column and all the wonderful comments your fans have been making, you will be missed my dear! Don’t be surprised if that paper realizes they can’t live without you!”
“I have loved and admired your humility and your just wanting to be known as a good and caring person not a celebrity. So, I’ll borrow from the Movie, ‘The Help’: You is Kind, You is Smart, and You is Important!”
“I remember the day you were hired by Kup. I was proud of you then, and I am proud of you now. Happy retirement!
“You have always been a wonder to me. Doing all that you do while remembering everyone and their name. Your kindness & loving heart is a treasure and I feel blessed to call you my friend/sister.”
“Hi, It’s Al’s son here. I am writing to congratulate you on your retirement and the conclusion of a magnificent career at the Sun-Times. I recall fondly talking to you each year about the WOOGMS parade and the lovely mention you and Kup would always include in the column.
I heard your interview on WBEZ earlier in the week and your mention of my dad, the late adman Al Weisman’s role in introducing you to Kup. I know he’s smiling thinking about the way things turned out!”
“It will be the end of an Era for such a great columnist who captured our hearts and interest every Tuesday and Thursday. Over the years that I was away from Chicago, it was your column that kept me close to home.”
“I will miss the column. You are the best.”
“Like most Chicagoans and nearly all members of the National Association of Black Journalists, I have nothing but adoration for you and your columns. You add glitz, glamour as well as ethos and pathos to the words that make up your well-read column.”
“I read the news about your retirement ... it broke my heart.”
Richard S. Price
“When you were handed the torch, after the death of Irv Kupcinet, you took it and ran with it — keeping the light glowing brightly all these years. Your column showcased people from the entire city of Chicago and highlighted folks from all walks of life.”
“I’m very proud of your achievements and it is an honor to be your friend.”
“My dearest teenage friend remember the end of one chapter is the beginning of another. I love you and God’s blessing.”
“I want to thank you for writing your column. I have always looked forward to reading it. You have always been so witty, so entertaining, so insightful, so profound, so ... I will especially miss your heartfelt opinions and reading “Yeah, I said it.” The paper will not be the same without you.”
“Words cannot express what your friendship has meant to me personally and professionally. I have been honored to be one of your contributors and friends.”
“I will miss you, Stella. Hope you enjoy your life’s next adventure!”
“Never envisioned the day would come when Stella Foster would decide to retire ... Glad we had the opportunity to acknowledge your work at the Chicago Journalists Association dinner by giving you the lifetime achievement award.”
“ I have read your column and admired you ever since you took over. It is informative and entertaining. . . .WE NEED YOU.”
“We thank you for all the wonderful things you have done for Chicago. Thanks for always being there for Kup, Eli (Cheesecake) and our Family. Looking forward to celebrating with you!”
“There will be a major void in Chicago media! I, for one, will be devastated to see you go! Always relevant, always in tune with Chicago sentiment Stella ... You are a city treasure!”
“I can only wish you the best and thank you for everything. I DO hope u r going out on your own terms.”
“I just wanted to drop an email to let you know how much you’ll be missed. You did a great job as a columnist. There, I said it!!! Best of everything to you in your retirement.”
“Stella you have been such a help in getting the word out for so many charitable events. You will be greatly missed ... thanks for everything!”
“Stella you are beautiful inside and out and I will miss you and enjoy your retirement.”
“Congratulations on over 40 great years, we all know that you will continue to make an amazing contribution to our city!”
“Thanks for your caring so much about others and I will miss the column.”
SO, I HAVE had a beautiful and exciting journey at the Sun-Times (check the Internet)...which was made even more pleasant because of Irv Kupcinet...the best boss that ever landed on this planet! He was a delight and a mentor and will always be in my prayers. And thanks to the new Sun-Times owners for allowing me this space to say my goodbyes. And most of all, thank you dear late parents, Mamie and Peter James Foster for bringing me into the world and believing in me! Yeah, I said it!