Janan Lindley died in hospice at home with her wife, Marge Summit, by her side July 29 of cancer. She was 82.
Lindley was born June 20, 1940 and was raised in New Orleans. She studied at Loop College and from November 1984 to June 2005 and worked at Corus Bank, where she was vice president upon retirement.
In an interview with this publication in December 2017, Summit (the longtime owner of the now-defunct His 'n' Hers bar, organizer of the Gay $ campaign and a Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame inductee, among other achievements) said, "We met on Facebook in 2012. I had just finished my first bout of cancer and was kibitzing with a friend and Janan chimed in. I looked her up and she was in my age group. I asked her if she wanted to meet for coffee and she said she only had one cup a day. So, I asked her if she wanted to go walking in the park. She messaged me on Facebook later and gave me her phone number. I called her and said, 'Look, I'm bald and I just finished with cancer. I'm clean, but I'm bald.' She said that's no problem. Half her friends were bald, too.
"I drove to her building on inner Lake Shore Drive and she came out and I went, 'Oh fuck, she's gorgeous.' And I wasn't looking for a relationship at all. I'd had it with romance. We talked for two hours and then she asked me up to her place on the 38th floor. Her place was gorgeous, white carpet and black furniture. I figured she might be out of my league. When I went downstairs, I had a parking ticket. She called me later and said she was going to be over near me. So she came over, and we talked for a little bit, and ended up in bed. She never left. We have our ups and downs, but I wouldn't trade her for anything in the world. I'd been with some wonderful ladies and we were together for a reason, but never my reason."
The couple got married May 18, 2014, at the Andersonville spot The Call, with Chicago gay icon Gary Chichester officiating and close friends attending.
Lindley is survived by Summit; Summit's daughter, Tayna Nelson; and countless chosen family member and friends.
Summit told Windy City Times that Lindley was proud of all the work she did for the LGBTQ community over the years.
"I met Marge many years ago and when she and Janan wanted to get married I officiated their ceremony," said Chichester. "We became even closer after that ceremony and socialized with each other since that time, including safely eating at restaurants outdoors to celebrate birthdays and Pride when places opened up after the initial COVID lockdowns. I was honored to be the person who married them."
"Janan was a wonderful woman who met Marge, another wonderful woman, later in life," said friend Owen Keehnen in a Facebook post. "They loved one another and built a home and a life together. Their love endured through hardship and through sickness. Deepest condolences to Marge and all of Janan's loved ones. And thank you, Janan, for your grace, your kindness, your laugh, and the wonderful way you had of smiling with your eyes."
"Janan's eyes would light up when she saw Marge," said friend Claudia Mosier. "Their love had a fierce tenderness and they created a family together. I will never forget their wedding day, or the harder times when they helped each other through sickness and aging. Two bonded spirits."
"I knew Janan through my longtime friendship with Marge," said friend Terry Gaskins. "They both loved and respected each other deeply and I am so glad that they found each other late in their lives. I am sending all my love to Marge and her family at this time."
"We all lost a real winner last week," said Lori Cannon, an ally and another longtime friend. "Janan was smart, witty, beautiful and kind. She loved her wife Marge, deeply, with all her heart. She was not just the woman behind the woman; she was the real deal, standing shoulder to shoulder with her dynamic colorful wife, who became a living legend within the LGBT community. Janan proved to be a brave and courageous warrior in the battle against cancer. Both women fought it together with the same passion they showed in all other areas of their lives, openly and defiantly. May Janan rest in peace. We will all miss her smiling eyes."
Lindley will be cremated. A memorial service will be held Sunday, Aug. 28, at The Call, 1547 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Details TBA.