Spring not only brings the flower blossoms, it brings our annual Dante Award luncheon. At this affair, attended by the Chicago’s media elite, we honor one of their own for answering Dante Alighieri’s call to be no timid friend to truth.
This year we celebrate the accomplishments of Sun-Times stalwart Stella Foster.
The author since Dec. 2, 2003 of “Stella’s Column,” she has enjoyed a long and illustrious career as a writer, broadcaster and long-time assistant to the late Irv Kupcinet, author of “Kup’s Column,” the longest-running nationally syndicated column of its kind.
Now with her own column in the same space once occupied by Kup’s, Stella Foster is leaving her own “Stellar” imprint on Chicago’s media landscape.
“Stella’s Column,” which runs every Tuesday and Thursday, reflects Stella’s personality, zest for life, compassion and love of people. It is an eclectic mix of news that spans every arena: sports, entertainment, politics and the arts. Stella also publicizes charitable events, particularly those that benefit causes that are close to her heart like child abuse, teenage pregnancy, black-on-black crime and women’s issues.
Born in Chicago and raised in the Englewood community, she attended Chicago’s public schools and then began pursuing a professional career. The serendipitous route that brought her to her current status as a highly respected journalist began in August of 1969 when Stella’s sister, Jamie Foster Brown, told her that the legendary Irv Kupcinet was looking for a new secretary. She interviewed for the position and was hired. She characterizes this as a “turning point” in her life.
For 34 years, Stella was Kup’s assistant, confidante and organizer, as well as the driving force that kept the column alive and vibrant. In her high-profile role, she interfaced with luminaries from all walks of life.
Stella’s writing career was officially launched in the mid-’80s when her brother-in-law, Dr. Lorenzo Brown, approached her about writing for Sister 2 Sister, a national entertainment magazine that he and his wife were starting. When the Sun-Times’ editorial page featured Personal Views, Stella contributed, expounding on a variety of topics that piqued readers’ curiosity and elicited diverse opinions.
Stella took her “act” to television when Fox News approached her about being a morning commentator. The weekly segment, titled “Stella Sez,” featured a mix of newsy nuggets that captivated viewers during the year it was on the air.
As Kup began to age, his health began to deteriorate and he was in the office less frequently. To keep the column alive, Stella began assuming the bulk of the writing duties. The Sun-Times recognized her contribution by giving her a byline at the end of the column, and eventually gave her co-writing credits.
Now hailed as a Chicago treasure, Stella’s gift for writing is matched only by her compassion. She uses the power and pull of her column to galvanize her readers and friends around key issues affecting the metropolitan area.
She is also a passionate friend who counsels, dispenses advice and lends a helping hand. Each day, she performs an act of kindness, extends a favor and gives visibility to a cause. Her passion and dedication has been acknowledged by countless local organizations and news outlets.
Our Dante Luncheon will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 17, at Galleria Marchetti on Erie and Halsted. Tickets are $65. Call the JCCIA office at 708-450-9050.