Louise M. Kaegi died on April 15, 2018, at the age of 79. She had lived in Hyde Park since 1973 when she and her husband Walter moved from the North Side.
Kaegi was born and grew up in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Cincinnati. After receiving her BA (1960) and MA (1963) from the University of Cincinnati in English, she joined the Peace Corps. She lived in and taught English as Second Language in Sousse, Tunisia until 1966 and worked at the Peace Corps’ Washington Headquarters until 1969. She met her husband in Washington and moved to Chicago after getting married in 1969.
She enjoyed crafting the English language. Louise worked several years for the American Bar Foundation as a writer and editor. She edited speeches, wrote copy, and coordinated focus groups for the Darrell Parrish firm that did public relations work for Mayors Harold Washington and Eugene Sawyer. She then worked 14 years for the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations as a publications editor.
Kaegi was an activist for social justice and an energetic community volunteer. While working in Washington, she was a volunteer in Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People Campaign. Soon after coming to Chicago she helped to register voters on the South Side. She was closely involved in her children’s activities, including helping to administer the Shoesmith Little League. She engaged actively in debating the transformation of 53rd Street.
From the time she moved to Hyde Park she was deeply involved with St. Thomas the Apostle Roman Catholic Church. She served as secretary of the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Madonna de la Strada. She was a member of their Respect Life Center. She was an advocate for interfaith cooperation and understanding, and fought against anti-semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and Native American suicide. She participated in the Campaign to End the Death Penalty and Organizing Catholics for Justice, attending protests in Chicago and Springfield against police torture practices, prison conditions, and US mass incarceration policies. When she died, she was engaged in writing the history for the 150th anniversary of St. Thomas the Apostle’s congregation.
She had a wide variety of activities, which grew in retirement. In her late 50s she learned to play the banjo, playing for the Windy City Jammers, with whom she made TV appearances and played weekly at the Lincoln Restaurant. She returned to North Africa in 1997, 2004, and 2005 to join her husband on sabbaticals in Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria. She was a gifted cook, and a voracious consumer of periodicals and books on a wide range of topics.
She leaves her husband Walter; sons Fritz (Rebecca) and Christian; grandchildren William, Rose, and Anna; and sister Laurie Mullikin.
There will be a memorial service for Kaegi. Visitation will take place on Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 11.30 a.m., followed by Mass, at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 5472 S. Kimbark Ave.