Lorraine M. Pettigrew, 86

St. Thomas parishioner was a science teacher, world-traveler


Lorraine Mary Pettigrew, 86, died on Sept. 14, at her Streeterville apartment, surrounded by family and friends.

She was born on Feb. 8, 1933 in Chicago, the only daughter of the late Lillian and Leopold Truszczynski. After graduating from the former Immaculata High School in Lakeview in 1950, Lorraine received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in the teaching of chemistry from the University of Illinois.

She married Roy Willard Pettigrew on July 6, 1967, and the family moved to Hyde Park in 1973, having chosen it because it was one of the few neighborhoods where interracial couples and their families were welcomed at the time. She was involved in her children’s education and their activities, including the South Shore YMCA swim team.  In addition to raising four children, she was an active member of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, 5472 S. Kimbark Ave.

She was a dedicated and passionate teacher and taught chemistry and physics at the George Washington High School, 3535 E. 114th St., for 28 years. As a young adult, Lorraine loved to hike, camp, and canoe; the Necedah Wildlife Refuge and Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin were two of her favorite spots. Lorraine also enjoyed traveling, having backpacked across Europe in 1956 and went to Fiji as a Fulbright scholar in 1965.

After retirement, Pettigrew traveled with Road Scholar in the US and internationally to places such as the Galapagos Islands and Jordan. A lifelong learner, she was an active member of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies until the time of her death.

Daughter Melinda, an epidemiology professor at the Yale School of Public Health, writes that Pettigrew was “fiercely independent and outspoken,” with “a sharp and analytical mind — family and friends frequently asked her for advice on topics ranging from romantic relationships to their careers.”

“She will be dearly missed,” Melinda said.

In addition to Melinda, Pettigrew is survived by sons Robert, Daniel and Jerome, stepdaughter Joy and grandchildren Zion, Ian, Liam, Imani, Massina and Adji. Her husband preceded her in death.

A funeral mass will be held at the chapel of senior living facility The Clare, 55 East Pearson St., on Sunday, Oct. 20, at 1 pm, followed by a reception. All are welcome. The family wishes to thank the staff at Angel Heart Care for their professional, attentive and devoted home care. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Thomas the Apostle or another charity of choice.