A formidable, compassionate and faithful social justice crusader, mother and aunt who was decades ahead of her time, Lois M. Christie, passed away peacefully in November, 2021.
Born in August 1938, Lois was raised in Chicago, and spent her entire life in the vibrant city - aside from some formative years spent abroad. Growing up, Lois was an avid dancer and became a swing champion with her brother as a partner.
She met her husband of 54 years, John M. Christie, when she was working at a record store in high school. He nearly went broke buying jazz records … anything to see her smile. The two bonded over a shared love of jazz and went on to haunt lively little clubs everywhere they went.
Soon after they were married John was deployed to Tokyo. Lois's trip overseas was a memorable one, as the airplane lost engines mid-flight and she was greeted by a massive earthquake. John took her to his modest off-base house, complete with a tiny coal stove. With her characteristic sense of humor, Lois quipped that the only thing keeping them married was that she couldn't afford to go home.
The two grew to adore everything about Japan, adopting many facets of the rich, colorful culture, from sushi making to ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arranging). She brought her cultural evolution home to Chicago, where the couple adopted their two beloved children: Noelle and Keith.
As kids, the two were exposed to an incredible mélange of forward-thinking individuals and ideas. Lois would invite poets, jazz musicians and artists into their home - a uniquely diverse household in an entirely white and Irish Catholic community.
A patron of Chicago's arts community, Lois would famously allow Noelle to take a sick day in order to go to the Art Institute, theater, opera or ballet; as a small child Noelle grew to love the likes of Lena Horne, Jackie Mason, Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, Baryshnikov, and Pavarotti all thanks to her mother's artistic influence.
Lois was a history buff who never shied away from telling the truth about difficult things, teaching her children about genocide, the Trail of Tears, smallpox and many other unpleasant aspects of the past. They learned to question everything, and to cast a critical eye on the victor's accounts of historical events.
She had an iron fist in a velvet glove. Lois was formidable but kind, strong but gentle, stubborn but loving. She also had an undying love for helping others, and was happiest when she could serve as a second mom. Her life and advice were illustrious, and countless friends, family members and churchgoers relied on her wise counsel.
Morgan Park Presbyterian Church was her home, where, as a woman of deep faith, she served in several leadership roles. Lois recognized the need for progress, and over the decades she and her husband and their friends were able to change the dynamics of her church. It became a place of innovation and integration, a place where incredible things happen.
When she laughed, her whole body shook. Her compassion was palpable, and she never met a stranger; her home was always filled with strays - those with two and four legs.
Over the years her accomplishments were many, and her various interests were eclectic. She served as a civilian under the General of Tachikawa Air Force Base in Tokyo in the 1960s. As an accomplished artist she channeled that love into co-founding a Chicago art studio and gallery, A Touch of Umber in the 1970s. She was also co-owner of The Village Inn restaurant in Worth, IL, in the 1980s.
She was predeceased by her spouse of 54 years, John M. Christie; her brother Roscoe Embree, Jr. and his wife Peggy; her parents Roscoe Embree and Dollie Embree (née Bruner); and her niece Cheryl Word.
She is survived by her children Noelle Kasdin (Peter) and Keith Christie; nieces and nephews Curt Christie (Christie), Chad Christie (Joelle), Carie Mihalko and Rick Hughes (Cindy); brother-in-law and sister-in-law Donald and Arlene Christie; and many cousins whom she adored.
Lois leaves behind a legacy of faith, progressive thinking and inspired action. Her lifetime of service and selflessness will echo eternally.
A visitation will be held on Saturday, December 11, at 1 p.m. The Celebration of Life service begins at 1:30 p.m., Morgan Park Presbyterian Church, 11056 S. Longwood Drive, Chicago, IL. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Morgan Park Presbyterian Church (MPPC), Memorial Fund, 11056 S. Longwood Drive, Chicago, IL 60643. Condolences for the family may also be sent in C/O MPPC. For info call 773-779-3355.
Published by Chicago Tribune from Dec. 5 to Dec. 10, 2021.
My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family. May God continue to bless you all!
JAUNESE M GILLESPIE
December 11, 2021
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.
December 9, 2021
Being friendly with Lois' daughter Noelle, we know that she must have been a special woman, raising Noelle with a Terrific Spirit and Intelligence. Our thoughts with Love are with Noelle at this time whom we know was always a Concerned, Proactive daughter.
Mark & Joan Baumgarten
Mark & Joan Baumgarten
December 7, 2021
Noelle and Keith - I never had the pleasure of meeting your mother. But based on her obituary today, I so wish I had known her. I know we would have been friends. I so admire her life and I am terribly sorry for your loss. What an inspiration she was!