How do we connect the dots among three West Side sisters, Wall Street, our community and Christmas Without Cancer?
Read on and I’ll share.
When the middle child in the small circle of three sisters died, the oldest and youngest became closer than ever.
Shirley and Eileen Stack committed their devotion to one another and to the memory of their teen-age sister Virginia, who succumbed to a heart ailment.
Virginia’s death had a tremendous impact on the whole family.
Such was the early seedlings of a sisters’ commitment that would remain unveiled for years.
The two Chicago Public School educators and administrators—reared in a family built on core values—found promise and occupational satisfaction plunging head first into their work. Their devotion to family values was fueled into care for one another all the while shaping the minds of public school children and bringing structure to the financial future of the Chicago Public Schools. Shirley and Eileen worked six, 13-hour days.
According to old news clippings, Eileen’s “tenure as assistant superintendent was noted for the unprecedented analysis of the system’s finances, personnel and student population.”
Eileen would rise up to be the “No. 3 person in the Chicago Pubic School system under Supt. James Redmond in the 1960s and ’70s.”
Shirley oversaw a region of the Far Northwest Side that “went under enormous change in her 18 years as district superintendent.” Shirley pioneered programs for children with developmental disabilities, as well as the introduction of other special-needs initiatives in education.
With a commitment to excellence instilled by their parents, the sisters led modest lives of their own while shaping the educational and financial standards of the Chicago Public School system to the benefit of more than 500,000 public school students.
Along the journey, a friend and financial advisor guided them in their long-term financial goals and successful retirement planning endeavors. Interestingly, Shirley’s life-long battle with rheumatoid arthritis drew special attention to investing in health care companies and similar funds that she researched.
One year before Shirley’s death, she leaned on their long-time financial advisor and sounding board to establish the Stack Family Foundation. Their modest savings and investments were significant enough to establish a foundation to honor their parents, sister and the entire Stack Family.
“They were the last of the Stack Family members, so Shirley wanted the money to be given out annually in commemoration of their parents and sister,” said the foundation trustee referencing Florence, a homemaker, and John, who worked as a county assessor.
The friend and trustee of the foundation has remained a devoted steward, facilitating the sisters’ intent of making contributions to educational and Catholic organizations as well as providing funding for health care and medical research programs.
While that dedication to helping those in need led to a foundation based on giving to others, the sisters would be ecstatic to know their philanthropic legacy has continued through discreet donations to Catholic communities and organizations, scientific medical research for cures, Special Olympics, and programs for helping children in crisis.
Today, an inheritance for no one—pressed by a devotion to one another and family—rescues those in need.
Which brings us to Christmas Without Cancer, a grassroots organization that has remained local so donations will soothe those in our immediate midst.
The Christmas Without Cancer mission statement would resonate with the Stack sisters, especially the final line:
Christmas Without Cancer identifies need and then provides gifts and basic necessities to Chicagoland families with members stricken with cancer so to allow the beauty of Christmas to shine through while family members find comfort in their “Devotion to One Another.”
In recent weeks, the Stack Family Foundation’s two Beverly trustees sent out a clarion call that may have reached the three Stack sisters in heaven.
Like the trumpet blast it was intended to be, the challenge to match funds for families resonated throughout the community creating a pace of giving that will allow Christmas Without Cancer Founder Gerri Neylon and her army of volunteers to address more need, visit more homes and allow more families to find comfort in devotion to one another this Christmas.
A new chapter is being written in the legacy of the Stack sisters, along with help from foundation trustees, Wall Street, you, the community members, and Christmas Without Cancer.
Editor’s note: Bill Figel is a Morgan Park resident and owner of Figel Public Relations.