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Our ‘patron saint’ passes away

Workshop and Studs

Community Media Workshop mourns the loss of Studs Terkel, who died at 2:46 p.m. today at the age of 96 at home.

“My dad led a long, full, eventful—sometimes tempestuous—satisfying life,” said his son, Dan Terkell. Details of how the family and friends will celebrate his life will be published at a future date.

Studs had grown more frail since the publication by the New Press just a year ago of his memoir, Touch and Go. “I’m still in touch but I’m ready to go” he said at a reading from the work then, his last public appearance with Community Media Workshop, the nonprofit that recognizes Chicago reporters who take risks in providing outstanding coverage of the city’s neighborhoods.

“The last time I saw him he was up, about, and mad as hell about the Cubs,” says Workshop President Thom Clark.

Studs Terkel one of the world’s most effective communicators, was multi-talented as a writer, an actor, a journalist, an orator. His was a unique voice, both a rascal and a statesman; he brought dignity and hope to the hopeless and powerless and had a raw, respectful and honest insight about those who succeeded in life. Winner or loser, celebrity or nobody, saint or sinner—Studs reached out to us all.

At his best, he was much more than an entertainer, a journalist, a communicator. He was an organizer, a community organizer if you will. He talked to and, more importantly, listened to all of us. Not just Americans, but all of us citizens of the world. His work was empowering. It turned losers into winners, and helped recognize and thereby transform and include the forgotten, ordinary folks into a vibrant community of the human spirit.

Terkel was the patron saint of the Workshop’s Studs Terkel Community Media Awards for journalists who take risks in covering Chicago neighborhoods, such as recent honorees Tribune’s Rick Kogan, Mark Brown of the Sun-Times, radio stations WVON and RadioArte, and many others over 20 years.

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6 Responses

  1. […] as coverage of his passing from CNN and the Chicago Tribune.  Community Media Workshop has also released a statement about the passing of their “patron saint.” […]

  2. Justin DeJong says:

    in statement released tonight from Senator Obama:

    Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn about the loss of Studs
    Terkel, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. Studs was not
    just a Chicago institution, he was a national treasure. His writings,
    broadcasts, and interviews shed light on what it meant to be an American
    in the 20th century. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him, all
    who loved him, and all whose lives were enriched by the American stories
    he told.

  3. Nicole Gotthelf says:

    I served on the Community Media Workshop board for 10 years and continue to serve on the Studs Terkel Awards Committee — as we honor 3 journalists each year with a Studs Terkel Award. I have wonderful memories of Studs — my favorite was when I worked for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and took Mae Bertha Carter, a civil rights activist from Mississippi, to be on his radio show at WTTW– they ended the show singing spirituals — it was a real love fest between Studs and Mae Bertha. In fact he was on 60 Minutes (or it might have been CBS Sunday Morning) a week before the interview and was pictured carrying the biography (Silver Rights) about the Carter family’s determination in integrating the school system in Drew, Mississippi.

  4. […] – Here’s Community Media Workshop’s statement.  Here’s an obituary by Studs Terkel Award winner Rick Kogan of the Tribune, and […]

  5. In the little time that I’ve known Studs Terkel, I can honestly say that I will miss him. But will continue to help keep his memory alive at the Community Media Workshop to the best of my ability as a Board member. He was such an inspiration to so many down through the years I’m sure. A man, with a force to be reckoned with I’m told.

  6. Pine duBois says:

    I remember sitting in Stud’s living room in about 1971 with the four of us and being so impressed at the humility and vision and stamina of this articulate wizard who inspired us with stories and passion and soul. I think we left feeling stronger, empowered, genuine and part of the big effort in life to play out our principals with truth and honor. Studs will always shine as a master whose speech can breed the will to organize the weak into a powerful movement of the people for change.Hats off! and Thanks for showing the way.

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