The City of Evanston and anyone who knew Jean Baron lost a dear friend on August 9, when she passed away following a lengthy illness. Jean was smart, caring and funny, loved good books, great food, her family, children and old friends.
Born on Sept. 4, 1923, Ms. Baron graduated from Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern and began her newspaper career in Minneapolis, where she met and married Don Baron. They started their family, and three sons were born before a business transfer returned Jean to Evanston in 1959 with her family and a fourth child on the way.
A whirlwind of energy, she raised four kids, reviewed children’s books for the Chicago Tribune, taught Journalism at Medill and edited the Chicago Police Department Newsletter, all while finding time to be a Cub Scout Den Mother, organize book fairs at Lincoln School, create wonderful meals and bake terrific bread. She also was deeply involved in local politics and a champion of the Evanston Public Library, on whose board she served for many years. She continued her commitment to books and children’s reading and early education through her award-winning work at the Foster Reading Center. True to her progressive values, she remained active in politics until her illness prevented her continuing involvement.
Jean was predeceased by her parents, Samuel James and Olive Benbrook James, her brother, Merton James and her husband, Donald Baron. She is survived by her sons, James Baron (Tucson, AZ), Philip Baron (Northbrook), Elliot Baron (Chapel Hill, N.C.) and a daughter, Molly Baars (Elmhurst). Grandchildren are Allison Baron and Bill Baron (Tucson); Audrey Baron and Lucy Baron (Chapel Hill).
For decades, she had a very special bond with four other long-time Evanstonians Pauline Mayo, Shirley Ellis, Betty Papangelis and Tascha Deutsch, who collectively became known as “The Fall Leaf Ladies.” Their deep friendships endured the test of time. They lent their collective strength and energy to a variety of projects in Evanston and made a number of lasting contributions to their city.
Ms. Baron’s family would like to extend special thanks to her devoted caregivers, particularly Ida, Antanita, Dora, Elizabeth, Promise and Nikki, as well as the personnel at NorthShore Hospice Care.
A memorial open house will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sept. 13 at The Mather, 425 Davis St.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson