Rose Farina, longtime Chicago cultural arbiter, dies at 88

Farina was director of programs and exhibits at the Richard J. Daley Center

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By MARK FARINA

Contributor

Rose Farina — the longtime director of programs and exhibits at the Richard J. Daley Center in Downtown Chicago and the creator of the Weekday "Under the Picasso" free noontime entertainment programs — died on Nov. 2. She was 88. 

She was the mother of four sons, seven grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and the devoted wife of former Chicago alderman, World War II army veteran and civic leader Louis Farina. The couple was married for 60 years. 

Rose Farina began the wonderful noontime programs in what was then the Civic Center Plaza at the request of Mayor Richard J. Daley. She had previously worked as the ethnic coordinator for the Chicago Bicentennial Committee from 1975 to 1976. Farina would go on to serve under six different mayors during the 28 years she was with the city's Department of Cultural Affairs (formerly the Department of Fine Arts). 

She received countless accolades from throughout the ethnic, arts and entertainment community in Chicago and across the state, and was an early promoter of Black History Month. She also pushed for the recognition of military veterans, including those who fought in Vietnam. 

IN 1993, Farina was recognized as one of Chicago's 100 Prominent Women, as part of the "Circle of Honor" Art Exhibit that saluted the contributions of 100 activists, artists and businesswomen.

Farina received many recognitions over her long career, including a Superior Public Service Certificate. She was also recognized by former Mayor Richard M. Daley, the Chicago City Council, the Joint Committee of Italian Americans, the U.S. Department of Defense and more than 40 foreign governments. The Department of Cultural Affairs even donated a piano in her name and she was the Sicilian Cultural Association's first Medal of Merit Recipient. 

One of her proudest achievements took place in 1993, when she invited the Italian town of Marostica to bring their Medieval Human Chess Game to Chicago and stage a performance in full costume at the Daley Center Plaza, which was decorated as a huge chess board.   

The daughter of Italian Immigrants who came from the small mountain town of Ciminna, Sicily, Farina was the fourth of five children of James Torina, a plasterer and U.S. Army Veteran of World War I, and Francesca Graziano, a seamstress who worked in a parachute manufacturing factory during World War II.

She attended Waller (Now Lincoln Park) High School and was a longtime resident of Galewood. She is survived by three of her four sons: Philip, James and Mark. Her son Richard passed away in 2016.

Visitation will be Thursday, Nov. 21, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Salerno Galewood Chapel, 1857 N. Harlem Ave. in Chicago. Funeral Services are on Friday, Nov. 22, starting from the funeral chapel at 9 a.m., with services at 10 a.m., at St. Giles Catholic Church, 1045 N. Columbian Ave. in Oak Park. There will be a private burial.

CONTACT: michael@austinweeklynews.com  

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