Bernice Pink, nee Steckloff, age 88, passed away peacefully at home on December 28, 2016. A long-time Chicagoan, Bernice will be remembered by her own words, "I'm one of the lucky ones." She was married to the love of her life, Chester A. Pink, until his death in 1974. They lived in Highland Park and in Chicago. Bernice was very active in the philanthropic community, beginning with fund-raising and charity fashion modeling upon her arrival in 1951 from New York, where she had attended the Dalton School. Over the ensuing decades, Bernice was a tireless advocate for DIFFA, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Chicago House and the Alliance on Mental Illness. She trained her four-legged companion Jake as a service animal with Chenny Troupe. Bernice was also a founding board member of PAWS Chicago and active at the Anti-Cruelty Society. She chaired many events, but one of her proudest achievements was serving as chair of the Rita Hayworth Gala in 1990, when, for the first time in Chicago, over one million dollars was raised at this event. Bernice's interests included gardening and her rooftop garden gained such acclaim that Mayor Richard M. Daley called on her to head his Rooftop Greening Committee in the 90s. Bernice was known for her style in clothing and jewelry, designing custom jewelry in precious metals and gemstones for many of Chicago's best-dressed list. A member of the Circumnavigators Club, her passion for traveling carried Bernice all over the world. Everywhere she went, abroad or at home, Bernice formed lifelong friendships. She is remembered for her gift of bringing people together - a networking genius of the highest degree. Everyone was "dear man" or "dear girl" and she knew someone they should meet. Cooking was NOT one of Bernice's passions, however, and she was a familiar figure at Chicago's best eateries, where she was adored by owners and wait staff alike. She took great pride in stating that she helped give Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno national attention on her rooftop garden, where he cooked for a morning TV show that was showcasing the Chicago Rooftop Gardening Project. For the last 2 years, Bernice quietly faced Alzheimer's disease with the same grace, humor and determination that had always framed her life. Visits this summer from family and friends included riding the Centennial Wheel and the wave swinger at Navy Pier. Her sense of adventure never dimmed. Bernice is survived by: Tom (Christina), John (Karen Schmidt) and Michael Pink (Sharon); Carol Mendelsohn; 5 grandchildren, Zara, Zan, Perry, Candice and Chloe; 3 great-grandchildren, Declan, Ronan and Luca; and 2 nieces Amy Liebman and Cecile Rabiea. Bernice was predeceased by her sister Leah Liebman. Bernice Pink was one-of-a-kind. Many have expressed that her passing is the end of an era. Grace, style, exuberance, generosity, curiosity and humor were the hallmarks of this unique grande dame. In Bernice's honor, donations to PAWS Chicago and Anti-Cruelty are appreciated. Photo gallery and remembrances at www.bernicepink.com
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Published by Chicago Tribune from Feb. 4 to Feb. 5, 2017.