1933 - 2020
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MAHER--Carlotta. Jill Carlotta Armagnac Maher, bright spirit to countless admirers, an archaeologist, wife, mother, and grandmother, died peacefully in Chicago on December 15, 2020, following complications from a fall. She is survived by her husband of 66 years, David Willard Maher, their children: Philip (Kathleen) and Julia, and their grandchildren: Philip Jr. (Aya Pusic), Cameron Suzanne, and Miguel Felipe Romero. Born April 3, 1933 in New York City, she moved with her mother to a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri at age 12, where she attended the Sunset Hill School. She was awarded a full scholarship to Harvard University (Radcliffe), where she met her husband-to-be and graduated cum laude with an AB in Chemistry. Soon, with two young children, Carlotta and David moved to Chicago, where he practiced law and she worked in a medical practice. In 1966, frustrated in her career, Carlotta answered an advertisement for volunteers at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute (the OI), a preeminent center for Middle Eastern Studies. While working as a museum docent, she began studying hieroglyphics and ancient languages, and in 1976 was invited to join the OI's archaeological team at Nippur in Iraq. Four seasons in the field galvanized her passion for the Middle East. When war in the region forced a pause in the Nippur expedition, Carlotta began to split her time between the OI in Chicago and its research center, Chicago House, in Luxor, Egypt. She would spend more than 50 years working for the OI, both in the field and as an indefatigable fundraiser. In 1997, the OI honored Carlotta with its first James Henry Breasted medallion for extraordinary service. Her work in Egypt acquainted her with people from all walks of life. She spoke Arabic with the locals and she guided countless visitors through Luxor, including dignitaries, business leaders, artists and all who continue to be drawn by the region's history. Her knowledge was enhanced by her innate ability to make others feel welcome and valued. She loved to dance, leading nighttime revels in the desert and discotheques around the world. With David frequently at her side, the girl who spent a solitary childhood in museums became a beloved, radiant personality known affectionately as Carlotta, Queen of the Nile. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.

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Published in New York Times on Dec. 20, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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12 entries
December 29, 2020
Carlotta -
Its so hard to believe that you are gone. You touched the lives of so many people here in the US, at the Oriental Institute, and in Luxor at Chicago House. We mourn your passing, and all your friends at the Oriental Institute remember you with love and respect. We will miss you deeply.
Gil Stein
December 28, 2020
Carlotta, you sound so interesting. I wish I had known you.
Marty Flint
December 24, 2020
To David and the family ... my deepest and sincere condolences to you. My heart was broken when I received news of Carlotta's passing. She was a wonderful, bright, beautiful and classy woman who left an imprint on the hearts of so many. May you all find some comfort with your wonderful memories of this special lady, and know she is going to be dearly missed by all who had the privilege of meeting or knowing her.
Cherie Stubbs
December 22, 2020
Rest In Peace Dear Lady. Mrs. Maher was such a large part of my youth and I was blessed to see her periodically as an adult. Thinking about all of you. Billy
William Hargrave
December 21, 2020
Very sorry to hear about the passing of Mrs. Maher. My mother Ernestine Murphy (Maher) of Aurora,IL knew her more than I did.
Michael Murphy
December 20, 2020
December 20, 2020
We feel so sad with the awful news of Carlotta´s passing. It´s hard to imagine silence- she was such a vibrant woman. We have wonderful memories of long ago good times on Oakdale. We send sympathy and much love.
Mary and Mel Marks
December 20, 2020
I knew Mrs. Maher in her retirement years. She was one of the most charming women I ever had the pleasure of knowing. She made an impression on me. I can still hear her delightful voice.
John Farmer
December 20, 2020
As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends.
Gina Salama
December 20, 2020
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Marjorie Fisher
December 19, 2020
Truer words have never been spoken; "Her knowledge was enhanced by her innate ability to make others feel welcome and valued." During my visits with my brother Andrew in Chicago I had the joy and honor to visit with Carlotta and David where Carlotta did just that. We (my daughter, grand-daughter and I) not only felt welcome and valued but included and fortunate to share in stories of her travels. I pray that her family and friends will find joy & peace in their memories of Carlotta.
Sally Webster
December 19, 2020
David, I was so sorry to hear of Carlotta's death. She was such a delight, living her life her own way. I will always remember her vivacious yet gentle spirit. Be assured of my support and my prayers. Warmly, Dianne
Dianne Bergant
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