Josephine "Jo" Abraham, age 88, of Kildeer, IL passed away Saturday, February 1, 2020 at Lutheran General Hospital. She was born on August 13, 1931 in Chicago, the oldest daughter of Joseph and Rose (Barranco) Portiera. Josephine grew up in what is now known as Wrigleyville, and attended Lakeview High School where she met several lifelong friends, the most important of whom was her husband and partner of 66 years, Charles. Chuck and Jo were married on February 6, 1954, and had a close family of five children, Catherine (Louis) Bland, Cynthia (Richard) Stackwell, Diane (William) Vlcek, John Abraham, and David (Amy) Abraham, all born on the Northwest side of Chicago.
Jo was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was a woman with a larger-than-life personality and someone whom you'd meet and remember for her warm personality, infectious laugh and ability to make everyone feel special. During the first 17 years of their marriage, Jo made a happy home in the space of their 6-room apartment at Magnolia and Foster Avenues. What they lacked in material possessions was more than compensated for by the ever-present love and attention of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and close friends. In fact, the door was always open to the constant parade of visitors…neighbors, Uncle Tony, Auntie Sarah, and Nana and Poppy. And then there were the weekly Sunday afternoon extended family dinners with an endless supply of Italian delights, both people and food. Jo was happiest entertaining and inspired the expression "Food is Love."
Jo was also an entrepreneur having been raised by Italian immigrant parents who believed that hard work and honest effort was the key to happiness. Jo and Chuck became owners of several franchised service stations in the Chicago suburbs – Chuck was the "on site" labor and Jo was the "brains" behind the organization, handling all bookkeeping and accounting single-handedly. They eventually purchased and operated an independent station, Millstream 76, in McHenry, IL from which they retired in the early 2000s.
Jo also enjoyed a part-time career – really just a hobby – working at Carson Pirie Scott & Company at Randhurst Shopping Center in Mount Prospect, IL. Since Jo was a fashionista with a "shoe habit," her work at Carson's enabled her to indulge many of her passions helping people, socializing, fine style, ringing the cash register and shopping. She was called back every Christmas (well into her 80's) to help in the Women's Department. Even as a part-timer, she was a committed worker and customers would seek her out for her helpful and caring attention.
Jo also had a strong Christian faith. She was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic church but, after marriage, found spiritual reward in the Lutheran and Pentecostal faiths. Most recently, she and Chuck were active board members and advisors to Rejoice Ministries in Chicago. Jo was a firm believer in giving back through the church and remained a dedicated servant until mobility challenges prevented her service.
Jo's family was her pride and joy. Among her most precious treasures were her grandchildren Adrienne (Jeffrey) Stewart, Katherine (Scott) Francis, Nicole (Robert) St. Clair, Michael (April) Abraham, David Stackwell and Alexander (Ashtyn) Thessen. Her life was further blessed by her great-grandchildren Grayson, Zachary, Jacob, Ava, Carson, Olivia and Arya.
Jo is survived by her loving husband, Charles; her five children; her dear sister Rose Marie (the late Kenneth) Small; dear brothers Joseph Richard (Rose) Portiera, Salvatore (Jeanette) Portiera; and many loving nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents Joseph and Rose; and her dear brother Anthony Joseph Portiera.
Visitation on Monday, February 10, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. with funeral service at 12 noon at Matz Funeral Home, 410 East Rand Road, Mount Prospect, IL. Interment at All Saints Mausoleum, Des Plaines, IL.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be offered to The American Cancer Society
, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, or a charity close to your heart. For info: (847) 394-2336 or www.matzfuneralhome.com
Published by Chicago Tribune on Feb. 7, 2020.