Lily Pagratis Venson 1924-2011

DEDICATED COMMUNITY ADVOCATE

AND PULITZER PRIZE NOMINEE

Lily Pagratis Venson, 86, a longtime community advocate and lifetime Chicago resident, has passed away on June 27.  She was an award-winning journalist and feature writer for the Lerner newspapers for over ten years.  She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for more than 100 articles over eight years on a successful community crusade to preserve 100 acres of private golf land to establish Warren Park in West Rogers Park in Chicago. Ms. Venson was awarded a plaque for excellence in reporting on this crusade from Governor Richard Ogilvie.  Today, Warren Park is enjoyed by the citizens of Chicago as a result of her perseverance.

As a dedicated journalist and with the power of the pen, Lily Venson courageously fought a host of powerful land developers and city politicians who were intent on converting the golf course into a lucrative housing development. The dream of having the property dedicated entirely to a public park was both visionary and unwavering.

As a journalist Ms. Venson covered the Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  In 1965, she was assigned to join the last day of Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic 1,000 man march and personally witnessed Dr. King’s now famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Ms. Venson’s powerful front-page article about this memorable civil rights event was entitled “The Dust of Alabama is on My Shoes.”

Ms. Venson also served as Public Information Officer for Cook County Hospital and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, during which time she received awards for journalism from the Illinois Press Women’s Association and the National Federation of Press Women.  She was recently honored by the National Federation of Press Women as a 45-year member.   She was a longtime member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

She met her late husband George Venson while singing in the choir at St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church and they married in 1944.  She is survived by a daughter, Virginia and son-in-law Paul, son Perry, brother Peter S. Pagratis, grandchildren Alethea and George, nieces and nephews and so many friends.

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