Augusta “Gus” Bloom, 98

Agusta “Gus” Bloom
Augusta G. Bloom (nee Gudas), widow of Charles G. Bloom, a freelance photographer whose photos appeared with some regularity in the Herald in the 1970s and ‘80s, and who was a longtime resident of Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood before moving to Evanston died on February 27.

Bloom was born Augusta Gudas in South Boston in 1919 to two immigrants from Lithuania, who met and married in the States. Her father, Pranas (Frank) was on the staff of a Lithuanian-language newspaper published in Boston. Her mother, Ursula, was a writer of Lithuanian poetry.

When Bloom was about 7 years old, Frank Gudas moved his family to Chicago, where a new job awaited at Draugas, Chicago’s Lithuanian-language newspaper. In addition, the family took over a corner store that sold candy, cigarettes, and sundry items in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, at the time a Lithuanian enclave. This, too, was where the family lived, in an apartment at the back of the store.

Augusta’s first language was Lithuanian. As a young adult, she traveled all over the US to attend Knights of Lithuania conventions, sometimes with her brothers and often meeting up with their Boston cousins.

Bloom graduated from the University of Chicago with a BA in English Literature. She worked afterwards at the main branch of Chicago Public Library (currently home to Chicago Cultural Center).

She and her husband Chuck were married in 1953. Chuck was Jewish and Bloom had been raised Catholic so it was a mixed marriage in that regard. One year later, Elizabeth was born and two years after that, Jonathan came into the world. Bloom was a stay-at-home mom, not that unusual in that day and age, but she probably stayed home longer than most, returning full-time to the workforce only after Jonathan was off at college.

When Bloom did return to the workforce, it was first at the library at Kennedy–King Community College, where her husband Chuck was on the faculty in the Humanities department. Later, she worked at the Environmental Protection Agency Library in the Dirksen Building downtown.

Bloom’s husband, Chuck almost always held down two, and sometimes three jobs, one of which was which kept Chuck on the go–along with his myriad labor union and political activities. Add to that: Chuck’s return to University of Chicago for a master’s degree in the early 1960s, and the fact that Chuck took up photography late in life, which meant from about 1970 onward, Bloom had to share her basement laundry room with Chuck’s dark room equipment. Through it all, Bloom was a great sidekick to her multi-tasking husband.

Bloom loved living in Hyde Park. She loved walking to the Co-op with her shopping cart, practically a daily ritual while Liz and Jonathan were growing up. She loved eating at Valois and having a Baskin-Robbins store a block away from her house. She loved the proximity to the Loop, riding the No. 6 Jeffrey Express downtown to her job at the Dirksen Building or to visit the Art Institute. But most of all Bloom loved her Hyde Park friends and neighbors, like-minded people who boycotted grapes, voted for Democrats fought for integration and social justice, picketed the war, and sent their young ones to Circle Pines for summer camp.

But in 1991, four years a widow and newly retired from her job at the EPA, Bloom sold her house on South Blackstone Avenue and moved to Evanston, where her daughter’s young family had installed themselves.

Elizabeth and her then-husband, Jake Levine even had a coach house on their property, the perfect size for Bloom. Sarah and Alex were aged 4 and 2 when Bloom made the move and for the next 11 years, they had the privilege of growing up with their beloved Nannie living right next door.

Bloom was beloved by her “Boston cousins,” Reggie, Lenore, and the late Sister Eugenia, her former colleagues at Kennedy–King College, the EPA (Chicago regional), her fellow volunteers at the Evanston Public Library, The Saints and Music Theater Works.

In addition to her late husband, Chuck, from whom she was widowed in 1987, Bloom was predeceased by two brothers, Fabian Gudas of Baton Rouge, and Gordon “Hank” Gudas of Wheaton. Her parents, Frank and Ursula Gudas died long ago.

Bloom is survived by daughter, Elizabeth (Dan) Albert of Highland Park and son, Jonathan (Socorro) Bloom of Evanston. Granddaughter, Sarah Levine of Delray Beach, and grandson, Alex Levine of Los Angeles.

A memorial was held for Bloom on Saturday, April 14, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Woman’s Club of Evanston, 1702 Chicago Ave, Evanston, Illinois. In lieu of flowers, a charitable donation can be made to Circle Pines Center, Attn: Scholarship Fund, 8650 Mullen Rd., Delton, Michigan, 49046.