‘She loved this city’: Chicago philanthropist Josephine Minow dies at 95
CHICAGO — Josephine Minow’s life was one well lived and shaped by her hometown of Chicago.
Nell and Martha Minow reminisce about growing up with parents who gave so much of themselves.
“She was really her own person, her whole life,” Nell Minow told WGN News. “My mom was the greatest reminder Chicago ever had. I used to call her the Chicago Office of Tourism.
Their father, Newton Minow, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission during the Kennedy administration, pursued a distinguished law career in Chicago.
In 2016, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom with his beloved ‘Jo’ by his side, as always for the couple who have been married for 72 years.
“It was a true lifelong love story,” Martha Minow told WGN News. “They were looking at each other with these adoring looks, and if one was appreciating something, the other would point and say, ‘Look, look!’ Isn’t it wonderful?
“Hashtag couple goals. They were the lovebirds of all time,” added Nell Minow.
“They improved and frankly, they improved everyone they met,” Martha said.
One could also make the case for their city.
‘Jo’ has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations aiming to give back.
“She loved this town,” her daughter Martha said. “She loved the spirit. She liked openness, open-mindedness, simplicity and variety. She gave her heart to this city, her time and her efforts.
Many of Josephine Minow’s efforts have focused on advocacy as she has gained her voice and position to help others on topics ranging from LGBTQ rights to race.
“As a child growing up in the Depression and World War II, she had a strong sense of injustice. When she went to college, she fought with a group called ‘The Quibblers’ to open the dorms at Northwestern, which at the time didn’t allow non-whites to be the dorms,” Martha said. “She pitched that same campaign to a group of people challenging the practices of Chicago’s department stores. wouldn’t hire people of color. And one of the managers said ‘we’ll outlive you’ and she just laughed and when he left and the rules changed, that was her vindication.
The connection between the Minows and the Obamas goes back decades – seeing the future president and the first lady step out on their first date chronicled in the movie ‘Southside with You’.
Newton Minow was a partner at Sidley Austin.
“They were both working at the law firm at the time,” Martha said. The future president was a summer intern and his mentor was Michelle and they were a little embarrassed to be seen on the first date, but mom and dad said, “Oh, have a great time.”
“And they took them to Ravinia once a year after that,” Nell added.
Josephine Minow died Friday at her Chicago home at age 95, leaving behind a forever grateful family and city.
“How can we be anything other than grateful? Nell told WGN News. “For an extraordinary person with stories, wisdom and a spirit that we can only try to emulate.”
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