West Suburban lesbian activist Susan Anderson, 62, died suddenly of natural causes Oct. 2.
A memorial service to celebrate her life and mourn her death will be held at Unity Temple, 875 Lake Street, Oak Park, on Sunday, Oct. 16 at 1 p.m. A reception will follow in Unity House.
A resident of Berwyn, Anderson was a critical leader in LGBT efforts in both Berwyn and Oak Park. She was former co-chair of the Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association ( OPALGA ) and an active member of Berwyn United Neighborhood Gay and Lesbian Organization ( BUNGALO ) .
She was a research scientist with the University of Illinois-Chicago, and that work included political research. Her interest in politics was wide-rangingfrom local to state and national.
Anderson ran unsuccessfully for 6th Ward alderman in Berwyn in 2009. According to Ted Korbos of BUNGALO, Anderson was active in Independent Voters of Berwyn ( IVB ) and was part of their slate in the elections. Anderson was also a former president of the All Berwyn Committee and was the moderator for several candidates' forums hosted by the All Berwyn Committee during the 2000s.
As part of her work with OPALGA, she also co-chaired and volunteered for their OPAL-Gala for several years. Anderson was also involved in the Oak Park Chamber of Commerce and she was a supporter and volunteer for the efforts to bring the Gay Games to Chicago in 2006, because one of the event's "villages" was located in Oak Park.
"Susan was one of the most positive people I have ever met in my life," said Korbos. "She was smart and bright and could talk to anyone. I also thought she was a very good politician and candidate. She had an ease about her. I am going to miss her greatly."
"This is a deep loss for our community and for Berwyn," said Debra Shore, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. "Susan was a great activist with a sunny side always up. She was involved in reviving Stonewall Democrats in Chicago, was a volunteer in my first campaign for office in 2006, and then stepped up and ran herself for alderman in Berwyn. That takes courage and she learned a lot. We need more people like Susan, willing to step up, step out and be counted."
Openly gay Oak Park Village Trustee Ray Johnson also remembered Anderson's contributions. "Susan was very active in the Berwyn/Oak Park Area and served as co-chair of the Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association, co-chair of our annual Oak Park Area Leadership Gala, and is the current board president for Visit Oak Park, the local tourism bureau," Johnson said. "She also served previously on the board of the Oak Park and River Forest Chamber of Commerce, to name just a few of her organizations. Her list of involvement in Berwyn is even longer. Susan worked tirelessly to join-up members of the LGBT community across so many lines, which can too often divide us. She worked diligently on gender, racial and ethnic equity within the organizations she was passionate about, supported programs for LGBTQ youth, and brought keen insights to every situation. She was not shy about pulling you aside to offer constructive feedback, always with an eye towards helping us achieve at the highest level. Quite simply, Susan stepped up. She gave more of herself to others on a daily basis and lead by example. She will be sorely missed by all."
Former Oak Park Village President Joanne Trapani knew Anderson for many years. "Susan was a good friend and a very special woman. She made the west suburban LGBT community a little better because of all that she did," Trapani said.