Services for Chicago blues legend Koko Taylor, who died June 3, took place last Friday, hosted by Rainbow/PUSH on the South Side.
Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and WVON personalities Pam Morris and Terri Hemmert conducted the service at Rainbow/PUSH headquarters, 930 E. 50th St. Taylor died of complications from gastrointestinal surgery. She was 80.
Taylor was the recipient of many awards, including two Grammy Awards. Among the numerous television specials she appeared were PBS Children’s show Arthur. Taylor performed with other artists, such as Led Zepplin, B.B. King, Mavis Staples, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy and the Rolling Stones. She also performed at the inaugurations of presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Last year, she headlined at Chicago Blues Fest, and earlier this year opened for Diana Ross and Anita Baker at Jamaica Music Festival.
Born Cora Anna Wilson on Sept. 28, 1928 to William and Anna Mae Wilson Dortch in Barlette, Tenn., Taylor was the fifth of six siblings. Her mother died when she was two years old and her father died soon after. Taylor and her other siblings were left orphaned, poor, and suffered abuse and neglect.
At 18 years old, Taylor moved to Memphis where she met Robert Taylor. The couple moved to Chicago in 1952 and a year later were married. Their daughter, Joyce “Cookie” Taylor, was born in 1955. Robert Taylor, known as “Pops,” died in 1989.
Taylor has three step-children with her late husband and two additional step-sons, Gerald and Mark Harris, from her second marriage to Hays Harris.
She is survived by her husband Hays; her daughter, Joyce Taylor Threatt; son-in-law, Lee Threatt; and sister Viola Spearman. Taylor has a step-daughter, Mary Miles, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and a host of friends.
A crusading journalist
Services for famed journalist Gloria Bennett, wife of Lerone Bennett, retired executive editor of Ebony Magazine, took place Saturday at St. Alibi Catholic Church, 9015 S. Harper. Mrs. Bennett died at age 78 on June 12 from complications of asthma. A native of Alabama, she studied journalism at Marquette University. After graduating, she took a job at Jet Magazine. There, she met her future husband, Lerone. The Bennett’s were married for 52 years and have four children.
A tireless advocate for Austin
Longtime Austin community activist Georgia Clayton died Sunday after a long illness. Her accomplishments include serving as founder and CEO of the West Side Black Contractors, advocating for construction companies and sites to hire black workers. Funeral services are pending.