Reva Hairston, mother of 5th Ward alderman, dies


Reva Hairston, mother of Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), died Saturday night at the University of Chicago Medical Center emergency room after several months of ill health.

She was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and moved to Chicago after eighth grade, where she graduated from Englewood High School, Chicago Teachers College (now Chicago State University) and DePaul University.

She was principal at the now-closed Mary C. Terrell Elementary School near the Robert Taylor Homes and an assistant principal at Dyett High School after decades teaching in Chicago Public Schools. She raised her children in Hyde Park and South Shore, telling them that attending school and college was non-negotiable, and taking them on camping trips and to dance and piano classes.

Reva was preceded in death by her husband, Lester, who owned a popular tavern in Woodlawn and was one of the first black McDonald’s franchise owners in Chicago.

“My parents always instilled in me to give back, that I was very fortunate with the life that I have and to make sure that I did something for somebody else,” Ald. Hairston said in 2012. “When I told her I wanted to run for office, she thought I was a little touched, but yet she was there supporting me in every way.”