Virginia and Jack Witmer moved to Printers Row in 1999. But to see the huge crowd that came to their home Thursday night--all carrying great victuals for Jack's "Irish wake"--you'd think they had been here all their lives. But Jack and Virginia did so much, got involved in so many things in the neighborhood that 12 years worth of stuff they did was like 10 times that for anyone else.
Jack passed away suddenly a few days ago at the age of 83. And the neighborhood won't be the same. The Witmers were founding members of Historic Printers Row Neighbors--which ultimately became South Loop Neighbors
. They started the famous Loft Walk
in the neighborhood, the group's newsletter (including a column that was written by Jack in the voice of his dog) and they spearheaded a lot of neighborhood issues. Jack had a ton of interests--from cooking to trains. When the book club met at the Witmers, Jack always made us a great salad and gave us a sweet smile. But he let us girls dish by ourselves.
For the last few years, Jack and Virginia spent a lot of their time on a boat in France. Traveling here and there, and having all sorts of adventures. They'd come back with stories, hang with us for a few months, question us about the state of local politics--and then they'd head back for more. We missed them.
The wake Virginia put on for Jack Thursday night was so crowded that the condo across the hall opened its doors and welcomed guests, too. New neighbors, old pals who'd moved to the suburbs. Neighborhood movers and shakers of every color and stripe. They all populated a lot of square footage for Jack's send off; it was still wall-to-wall people. But friends really seemed to enjoy seeing one another, gossiping, eating, drinking and watching slides Jack took in France. Jack would have loved it. The only sad thing was that Jack wasn't there.
Au revoir, Jack. Rest assured that you have made an impact in this neighborhood. Printers Row is better for having had you while it did. We will miss you very much.
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