Bidding farewell to yet another Revue friend

I first met Ly Hotchkin some 30 years ago.

If I remember correctly, I had just become managing editor of The Doings when I was sent to The Community House to meet her. Ly wanted someone from the organization to write a column about something or other, and I knew I was going to have to tell her no. I was still in my 20s and found Ly a bit intimidating. She seemed used to getting her own way, and the thought of refusing her request scared me a little.

I remained slightly frightened of her for several years, until I joined the cast of The Community Revue in 2004. Then I was introduced to an entirely different side of Ly, the side so many of us in the show came to know and love.

Ly wasn't with us in the cast when we performed in February, but she was still part of our family (and the subject of one of the show's funniest jokes: Bernie Sanders tried to win over the crowd by saying he dated her). And it's hard for all of us to believe that she's the second person we've lost since we were last on stage.

Like Dick Johnson, Ly was an integral part of this community. She was the first female director of The Community House and its first executive director, a role she held for 37 years. She served on the District 181 and District 86 school boards and volunteered with a long list of organizations.

Ly made the most of her 95 years. Lately she reminded you of just how old she was a lot, always offering up some joke about being as old as the hills or something similar.

She had a wonderful life, she would tell anyone who would listen, but it wasn't free of hardships. She lost her husband relatively early and then her grandson, Gunnar Hotchkin, was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.

But Ly never lost her sense of humor. When I interviewed her in April 2019 for one of our Redefining Aging stories, she joked that she hoped she wasn't around to celebrate her 100th birthday.

"If I can't laugh at me, I'm in serious trouble," she told me.

That wonderful sense of humor was the reason Community Revue director Dave Heilmann always gave Ly some of the best lines in the show. She had audience members rolling in 2017 with the final line in a running, sophomoric joke about planning large fundraising galas - or big balls.

"Ly was pure gold and she knew how to deliver those zingers," Heilmann wrote in an email. "I recall her being off book quickly on her line, 'I just love big balls.' "

She was always ready to tell a joke to make you laugh or to tell you she loved you.

"There will never be another like her, and she enriched all our lives," Norm Chimenti wrote in the email he sent out Sunday to let us know she had passed. "I think we can speak for everyone in saying we were lucky to know her."

Megan Balderston shared a story via email about the first time she and Ly met 18 years ago, when she was assigned to drive Ly in the Hinsdale Fourth of July parade.

"It seemed like on every block, someone yelled something like, 'Ly Hotchkin! Her Social Security number is 3!' and 'Ly Hotchkin??!! She's still alive?' etc. Ly was a spry 70-something at this time and she gave it back the whole way," Megan wrote.

My favorite memory of Ly could not be more different than my first. We were sitting in my car in Teri Goudie's driveway at about 3 a.m. after our closing night cast party, two shows ago, I think.

I told her I had only had two drinks and was fine to drive.

Her response?

"I don't care - I've had three!"

Thanks, Ly, for showing us how celebrate life. We love you.

- Pamela Lannom is editor

of The Hinsdalean. Readers

can email her at

[email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean