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Shoe store manager loves to share music with friends

Daniel Ontiveros his wife Lois

Daniel Ontiveros and his wife, Lois

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Updated: March 17, 2013 11:07PM



The music was always on when Daniel Ontiveros was around — tons of jazz, but whatever he thought his friends wanted to hear.

Mr. Ontiveros’ musical taste was wide, his collection immense and his passion deep, said his eldest daughter, Sue Ontiveros, a deputy features editor and columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times.

He made custom mix tapes, and when technology changed, he made mix CDs of specific songs or sounds he thought a buddy or a niece might enjoy.

“He tried to have the music you liked,” his daughter said, even if that meant blaring Mario Lanza out of his car for a particular buddy.

Mr. Ontiveros, a lifelong South Chicago resident known to friends as “Danny,” died March 14 of cancer. He was 84 and a day shy of his 62nd wedding anniversary.

Never one to sit still, Mr. Ontiveros was in good health until his cancer diagnosis, and he puttered round the neighborhood being useful. He drove friends to doctor’s appointments. He shoveled not just his own sidewalk but those around him, too. He helped neighbors keep an empty lot, the remains of a demolished apartment building, green and clear of trash.

“He was like, 80,” his daughter said, “and I can remember coming over there and realizing that the guy up on the roof fixing the roof was my father.”

He was born in theSouth Deering community to a steelworker. As a young man, he played baseball for the Latino community team, the Rancheros.

He started working when he was about 14 to pay his way through Mount Carmel High School, his daughter said.

One of his jobs was in the produce department of Goldblatt’s Department Store, where he reconnected with Lois Flores, a girl he knew from the neighborhood. Their fathers worked as steelworkers together. Her parents let her date him, but just on weekends.

They married right before the Army sent him overseas to Germany during the Korean War. They bought a house in South Chicago and lived there happily.

After the war, Mr. Ontiveros returned to the Kinney Shoe Store chain that had employed him since high school. He had become a manager by 18 and moved from store to store around Chicago for 46 years.

Mr. Ontiveros was also a talker, which suited shoe salesman, said Roy Shepardson, a friend of 50 years.

“He would talk to a light post — he could talk about anything,” he said.

One day at the store, he chatted with Shepardson’s mother and aunt.

“He told them to send me in there and he’d give me a job,” Shepardson said. “I spent 46 years at that company, all because of Danny.”

Shepardson, whose father died when he was a young teenager, considered Mr. Ontiveros his “Mexican godfather.”

“He was there to lend an ear, to try to give you some guidance,” Shepardson said. “He treated us young bucks as a member of his family.”

Mr. Ontiveros read voraciously, picking through resale shops, often with his wife, for records and books. Their home was full of books and magazines and music. He had a soft spot for corny joke books.

One of Mr. Ontiveros’ last excursions, on a balmy January day, was to the library and a resale shop, where he was tickled to find five paperbacks for 85 cents, his daughter said.

Other survivors include two sons, Russell and David; another daughter, Diana Capporelli; eight grandchildren; five great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday at Elmwood Funeral Chapel, 11200 S. Ewing Ave. A funeral mass will be at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 3201 E. 91st St.



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