1970s Featured Legacies Featured Legacies Home Home Legacies

Richard Kreisman (BSJ79)

Richard (Rich) Kreisman, 64, died peacefully on October 7, 2021, at home in San Francisco, after a courageous two-year battle with lymphoma. His loving partner, Jack Fahy, and their dog, Gemma, were by his side. 

Rich spent his first ten years in Philadelphia and then moved to Rockville, Maryland, where he graduated from Robert E. Peary High School. After majoring in journalism at Northwestern University, he worked as a reporter and editor. Rich then created a consulting business specializing in digital content licensing and content acquisition. He collaborated with Outsell where he was VP and Practice Leader of Science, Technology and Healthcare. Outsell CEO Anthea Stratigos wrote, “Rich worked on an amazing number of projects, and never did he deliver one that didn’t meet or exceed the client’s expectations. That is who Rich was, – caring, and complete in whatever he did.”

Rich enjoyed tutoring adults who needed help with reading. He also was an exceptional advocate for his mother and others at the facility where she lived. Rich had many close friends by whom he was cherished for his charm, wit, and sense of humor. He was uniquely able to “dig in deep” and “get real,” allowing everyone to feel seen, heard, and loved.

Rich is survived by his partner Jack; sister Sandy Kreisman and her husband Robert Buganski and son Sam Buganski; his uncle Harold Borushok and his wife, Judy; and several cousins. He was pre-deceased by his parents Renee and Irv Kreisman and three dogs: Penny, Otto, and Franny. 

Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Nov. 4 to Nov. 5, 2021.


1970s Legacies

Susan L. Pedigo (BSJ70)

Susan L. Pedigo passed away Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at Central Dupage Hospital. She was born on October 13, 1948 in Berkeley, California.

Sue began her work career with Sears Roebuck and held communications and management positions with Watson Wyatt, The Segal Company, UBS Global Asset Management, 52 Communications and others.

She was very active in professional associations, including the Association for Women in Communications and the Professional Women’s Club of Chicago, and served as President of both.

Sue loved spending time each Fall in the Wisconsin Northwoods with husband and friends. She was a fabulous cook and devoted “cat lady”.

She is survived by her beloved husband of 46 years, Robin Holt of Glen Ellyn, brother-in-law Courtney Brian Holt of Grafton New Hampshire and sister-in-law Christine Holt Winnell of Vienna, West Virginia.


1970s Featured Legacies Legacies

Joseph Aaron (BSJ78)

Joseph Aaron, the longtime publisher and editor-in-chief of the Chicago Jewish News, died Nov. 16, 2019. He was 64.

“He loved that (the newspaper) gave him the forum to tell it like it is,” his brother Maury told the Chicago Tribune. “He said whatever was on his mind, regardless of whether or not it was controversial and regardless of whether it was a family friend. He said what he believed and he did not hold back.”

Born in Chicago, Aaron grew up in West Rogers Park, graduated from Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, and then earned a bachelor’s degree from Medill. He began his career as a reporter for Lerner Newspapers and later was the editor of JUF News, the monthly magazine of the Jewish United Fund.

In 1994, Aaron left the Jewish United Fund to start the Chicago Jewish News, which today has a circulation of about 40,000.

Denise Plessas Kus, the newspaper’s production manager, told the Tribune that Aaron’s weekly columns “showed that he was proud of his Jewish community and every once in a while saddened when it didn’t live up to what he thought they could be.”

Aaron explored the positives for Jewish people in the U.S. today, compared with how Jews have been treated at other times in history, said Rabbi Meir Shimon Moscowitz, regional director of the Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois. Moscowitz is the son of Aaron’s longtime friend Rabbi Danny Moscowitz, who died in 2014.

“He didn’t like people who always found the negative in others,” Moscowitz told the Tribune. “He liked people who found the positive in others. And he kept going at it for years and years, which is not easy. And he wasn’t afraid to say what he thought. He was very open and direct.”

Aaron recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the founding of Chicago Jewish News. Aaron is survived by another brother, Fred; and two sisters, Susie Alter and Sharon Aaron.

1970s Featured Legacies

Michael Podracky (BSJ75)

Michael Lawrence Podracky, 66, died Jan. 25, 2020. He was born on Jan. 30, 1953 and married Susan King on March 18, 1978 and raised two daughters, Dana and Erin.

Friends remember Podracky for his boundless energy, his unrelenting drive in achieving his goals, his sense of adventure, and his generous and thoughtful spirit. He grew up fishing on Lake Erie with his dad and carried that passion throughout his whole life, passing it on to his own grandsons. He loved running, especially with his daughter, Dana, and often beat her in races. He travelled the world, visiting more places in the last few years than most people get to in their lifetime, but his favorite trips were the ones he took with his daughters. He was a lover of fine dining for dinner and Milk Duds for dessert and he enjoyed watching Cleveland sports as much as a Broadway musical. His greatest love in life though was his family. He never missed an opportunity to babysit his grandsons. He often showed up with surprise coffee and flowers for no reason at all. His most used expression in life was, “Dad is proud of you.”

1970s Featured Legacies Legacies

John Witkauskas (BSJ70)

John Witkauskas, died January 24, 2020 at the age of 71. He was born in Sheboygan on February 20, 1948. John attended local schools and graduated from Sheboygan South High School in 1966. He then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Medill. After college, John worked for Delta Airlines in Chicago for over 20 years visiting many countries around the world. Following retirement from Delta, John worked at Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic school in Sheboygan. While there, he also reorganized and updated the school library system. John was known for his enthusiastic and upbeat personality. He enjoyed collecting old postcards, books, and movies. He also liked to spend time with family and friends. John’s life was well lived, and happy.

He is survived by his sisters, Sandy and Mary; his niece Rebecca; and three nephews: Chris, Paul, and Mike. He is further survived by many cousins and friends.

1970s Legacies

John W. Farley (MSJ73)

Journalist and publisher  John Farley died on March 30, 2020. He was a native Washingtonian and lived in the DC metropolitan area for his entire life. He received his BS in Foreign Service at Georgetown University and his masters from Medill.

His career included positions at the Jacksonville Journal, Phillips Publishing Company and The Fund for American Studies. He was an active member of St. Raphael’s Parish Community, served as a docent at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and was active in the Big Brothers of America.

He is survived by his wife, Jean (Nelson) Farley, son, Daniel Farley, daughter, Lauren (Farley) Robarts, sisters, Debbie (Farley) Betts and Sandy (Farley) McGaw, stepmother, Mary Farley and several nieces and nephews.

1970s Featured Legacies Legacies

Deborah W. Hairston (BSJ75)

Deborah Williams Hairston passed away the morning of Wednesday, September 9, 2020, at Jersey City Medical Center from complications of a stroke. She was born in September, 1953, in Washington, D.C. 

Deborah was a graduate of Calvin Coolidge High School & majored in journalism at Northwestern University. Deborah received a master’s degree in public administration from New York University. Her journalism career included roles as a freelance writer for Black Enterprise Magazine, editor for the McGraw Hill Chemical Engineering magazine and editor-in-chief for Pristine Processing, a publication Deborah founded. She then went on to teach and mentor students for 20 years in the English department at Saint Peter’s University. Deborah was a lifetime member of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church which had deep roots in her family. She found her lifelong home in Jersey City, New Jersey, across the street from Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church where she was a dedicated member for over 30 years. 

Deborah is survived by her husband Rodney, children James and Jackie, and siblings Sheila and Russell. Deborah Jean was beloved by many. Her countless friends, students, colleagues and family will miss her joy for life, sharp wit and infectious personality.

1970s Legacies

Patricia B. Sagon (BSJ71, MSJ72)

Patricia B. Sagon, a longtime journalist, world traveler and style connoisseur who embraced classical music and the arts as both a passion and a philanthropic cause, passed away Tuesday, November 3, 2020, from cancer at the age of 70. 

Patricia was a true Washingtonian, born and raised in a city that she called home for most of her life. She savored all of the capital’s museums and cultural touchstones, from her attendance as a teenager to the Beatles’ first American concert in Washington in 1964 to her involvement with the National Symphony Orchestra, where she served on the board for 25 years. 

A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Patricia was an astute observer of the world around her with a natural curiosity. Patricia worked for years as a journalist in both print and television, including stints at the Wall Street Journal, WMAQ in Chicago and WPLG in Miami, during which she interviewed Pope John Paul II in Nassau, Bahamas. Her final position was also her most prominent, as the White House correspondent for the Westinghouse Broadcast Company in Washington in the 1980s, where she interviewed President Reagan and Princess Diana, among others. 

Patricia spent her entire life as an ardent consumer of the news. Daily, she would read the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Late at night, she listened to the BBC and NPR. She championed good writing and speaking. One of her favorite T-shirts read, “I am silently correcting your grammar.” And she was. Just not always silently. For years, she mailed her close friends news clippings until recently when she finally gave in and mastered email and emojis. Patricia also brought her keen sense of style and fashion to her work, known as being the best-dressed journalist at many a Washington press stakeout. She always exuded grace, and she loved dressing up to go out on the town, bemoaning the lowering of dress codes and the absence of table cloths at many fine restaurants. There was truly nothing casual about Patricia. 

Patricia was an inveterate reader and lifelong learner. She enrolled in Sotheby’s classes and became knowledgeable about porcelains and other decorative arts. Her passion for the decorative arts culminated in using all her knowledge and taste in creating her ultimate home. After she retired from journalism, she committed herself headlong to supporting cultural, educational and health organizations in Washington. She was a master in organizing gala fund-raising events for The Octagon House, the Phillips Museum, Choral Arts Society of Washington and the National Symphony Orchestra, among others, and she created an endowment for the Washington Hospital Center’s new Heart and Vascular Institute. 

She also served on many boards, such as the National Cathedral School, WETA, the Phillips Museum, and the Choral Arts Society. But it was the National Symphony Orchestra that she considered her most prized endeavor. Her long involvement and support for the NSO allowed her to pursue her passions for both classical music and world travel, as she accompanied the orchestra on national and international tours and traveled most recently to Vienna with the Kennedy Center International Committee for the Arts. This spring, she made a special gift to NSO to help it through the pandemic. 

Gary Ginstling, NSO Executive Director, says, “Patricia shared her expertise and guidance generously as a Board member, traveled often with the Orchestra, and helped lead the NSO to the success it has found over the years. Above all else, she was a steadfast champion for our Orchestra and for classical music in our city.” 

In her travels, Patricia loved nothing better than lingering at a museum in London or Paris, spending hours studying each exhibit and reading every descriptive plaque. Her world travels took her to every corner of the globe, from penguin sightings in the Arctic to breakfasts with giraffes in Kenya, tenting in the desert of the United Arab Emirates and, earlier this past spring, braving the midnight subarctic temperatures to view the Northern Lights in Churchill, Manitoba.

Patricia was the single child of Philip Sagon, a lawyer and real estate developer in Washington, and Martha (Silverstein) Sagon, a social worker and philanthropist. Patricia was a loving and doting child to her mother who lived well into her late 90s. While having no children of her own, she was known as aunt Patricia to over dozens of children and grandchildren of her friends on whom she always generously doted. She will be missed by all those now adult children who loved having her as a part of their lives. She leaves a chasm in the lives of her many friends — who will not be getting their birthday or anniversary cards in the mail — and especially in the life of her constant companion of 35 years, Charles Miller. Patricia was a lifelong member of the Washington Hebrew congregation.

1970s Legacies

Michael Dembeck (MSJ71)

Michael Dembeck died July 22, 2019. He is survived by his wife, his sisters, and his grandsons.

1970s Featured Legacies Legacies

John Lucadamo (MSJ70)

John Thomas Lucadamo, a Chicago reporter turned high school teacher, died April 14, 2019. Born Feb. 8, 1946, in Rahway, N.J., he was 73. Lucadamo first earned a bachelor’s degree from Alfred University in western New York in 1968 and then a master’s degree in journalism from Medill in 1970.

Lucadamo reported and edited in Chicago for almost 20 years before changing course and becoming an English and journalism teacher at New Trier High School in Winnetka, according to the Chicago Tribune. Before coming to Chicago, he worked as a reporter and as a copy editor at the Louisville Courier-Journal in Kentucky from 1970 until 1976, and then joined the Chicago Sun-Times in 1976 as a copy editor.

After nine years at the Sun-Times, Lucadamo became a copy editor for the Chicago Tribune in 1985 and then shifted to working as a metro reporter, covering suburban news for the Tribune. Just 3 years after arriving at the Tribune, Lucadamo covered the well-publicized discovery of a Chicago Outfit burial ground in southeastern DuPage County, wrote the Tribune.

Lucadamo eventually developed a respectable and reliable beat covering public schools in the northern Chicago suburbs.

His interest in education led Lucadamo to eventually leave the Tribune in order to explore a career as a schoolteacher. He took classes at Loyola University to earn a state teaching certificate and in 1996 took a job as an English and journalism teacher at New Trier.

Lucadamo also was the faculty sponsor for the New Trier News student newspaper, and he often worked late into the night to help students meet their deadlines and produce compelling journalism that would pique the interest of the student body.

After retiring from New Trier in 2011, Lucadamo taught classics like William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens at Northwestern’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, where he organized classes in his free time.

Lucadamo is survived by his wife, and his children Kirk and Eleanor.

Photo credit: Chicago Tribune