Joan Hadac

Joan Hadac

A ‘kind and giving heart’

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Family, friends remember columnist Joan Hadac

From staff reports

Those who knew Joan (Heelan) Hadac never seemed surprised that she landed in jobs where she helped people. It was simply her nature, her kind and giving heart, they’d say.

A lifelong Southwest Side resident, Mrs. Hadac died at home in hospice care on May 5, three months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was 63 years old.

Mrs. Hadac joined the Greater Southwest News-Herald in 1987 as a news reporter but quickly earned a promotion to an editor’s post.

joanhadac

Joan Hadac

Later, she was promoted again, to founding managing editor of the Southwest Senior newspaper.

In recent years, she was best known as the front-page columnist of the Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound, companion publication to the News-Herald.

Early years

Born Joan Marie Heelan on Sept. 4, 1959, she grew up mostly in the Gage Park neighborhood, graduating from St. Clare of Montefalco School in 1973 and Lourdes High School in 1977.

She had her first taste of journalism at St. Xavier College, where she double-majored in English and Mass Communications and joined the Xavierite student newspaper. She earned a promotion to co-editor and later editor, and she spoke well of her instructors, most notably Joel Sternberg and Dennis Wheeler. Upon graduation in 1984, she was presented with the Distinguished Student Service Award.

It was at SXC where she met Tim Hadac, a fellow student journalist, her future husband and love of her life. They were wed in 1985 at St. Clare of Montefalco Church.

Early in her career in newspapers, Mrs. Hadac’s work earned acclaim, including a nomination for the prestigious Lisagor Award for a story she wrote examining racial change in Gage Park through the prism of religion.

Her proudest role

Mrs. Hadac took a break from community journalism from 1991-98 to bear and raise the couple’s two daughters, Johanna Grace and Mary Sheila. For the rest of her days, she would refer to that time as “the best seven years of my life.”

“Joan had so much to be proud of in her professional life; but by far, she was most proud of being a mother and later a grandmother,” her husband said.

“She loved and was always proud of our daughters. She absolutely doted on our four grandsons and looked forward to when they were in town for a visit.”

She and her husband raised their daughters in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood, where they still lived at the time of her death.

Back to the newsroom

In 1998 she returned to community journalism, covering beats in Downers Grove and Clarendon Hills for the Suburban Life Newspapers. She was a key member of a team of reporters and editors that won awards from the Illinois Press Association and the Suburban Newspapers of America for riveting, localized coverage of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and for coverage of the Downers Grove High School District 99 teachers’ strike in 2002.

In 2012, Mrs. Hadac and her husband founded the Southwest Chicago Post, an online news service. She anticipated that the endeavor would be small, with a regular audience of about 50 people; but over time it became one of Chicago’s largest neighborhood-based news services, with more than 3.2 million cumulative hits on its website and more than 22,000 followers on its Facebook page.

Her kindness was evident in what she wrote as a news and features reporter.

“Most news reporters I’ve met can be kind of hard edged,” said Garfield Ridge businessman and community leader Al Cacciottolo. “But not Joan, not ever. She was a reporter with a heart and was at her best when she shared human-interest stories with her readers, stories about interesting people making the community a better place. And by doing that, she made the neighborhood a better place, year after year, story after story.”

Outside of journalism, Mrs. Hadac served as parish secretary at St. Joseph Parish, helping people with a wide range of needs, including informal grief counseling to men and women who had recently lost their loved ones.

Most recently, she was employed by Chicago Glass Blocks. Her value to the company was appreciated by the Basic family, founders and longtime owners of the company.

“Joan was the face of our neighborhood family business,” the family said in a statement. “Always greeting customers pleasantly, friendly and with the wonderful sound of her smooth-jazz station playing in the background. Numerous customers continue to ask about her. Our sincere condolences to her family. She will be greatly missed by our family, her co-workers and customers.”

Mrs. Hadac also was a former president of the Lourdes High School Alumnae Association and a former two-term school board president at St. Joseph School.

Mrs. Hadac was preceded in death by her father, James R. Heelan; sister, Sheila Forsner; and infant nephew, Alexander Edward Forsner. In addition to her husband, she is survived by her daughters, Johanna Grace (Michael) Smith and Cosmo Mary Sheila; grandsons, Raphael Elijah, Anthony Blaise, Aran Joseph and Patrick Fulton Smith; mother, M. Eileen Heelan; sisters, Eileen (Edward) Forsner, Bernadette (Lynda Smith), Patrice (Joseph Monaghan) and Monica (Brian) Swift; and aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, friends and many others.

Visitation is Friday, May 19, 2023 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Foran Funeral Home, 7300 W. Archer Ave. (55th street just west of Harlem), Summit. Visitation at the funeral home on Saturday, May 20 from 8:30 a.m. until time of prayers at 9:30 a.m. Procession from the funeral home to St. Mary Church,105 Herrick Street, Riverside, IL, for a 10 a.m. funeral Mass. Joan will be buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery near the graves of her maternal grandparents, Edward and Joan McGee. Please offer your thoughts and condolences to Joan’s family on her personal tribute website at www.foranfuneralhome.com.

32 Comments

  1. Mike Broadhurst on May 5, 2023 at 2:46 pm

    So sorry for your loss, Tim. Sad news indeed.



    • James Homan on May 5, 2023 at 6:31 pm

      My heart hurts for you Tim, Johanna and Cosmo ❤️❤️❤️ Your Wife, Mother definitely was a beautiful person, with a loving, giving and compassionte heart. I am sorry for your loss, and ours ????,???? I am honored to have known her in my life and will carry her spirit and memories with me, always. I will also be here and there for you and your family Tim. Please keep your heads held high and rely on God’s comfort and graces to help you through this difficult time ????❤️



    • Silvia M Rapacz on May 8, 2023 at 2:20 am

      Sorry for your loss. May she rest in peace ????



  2. Kelly White on May 5, 2023 at 3:11 pm

    Tim, I cannot express how sorry I am.



  3. Al Cacciottolo on May 5, 2023 at 3:11 pm

    So sorry for your loss. We will all miss Joan’s smiling face Our prayers for your family at this difficult time



  4. Rose and Tim Dunworth on May 5, 2023 at 3:57 pm

    Dear Tim, so very sorry for your loss. Joan was a sweetheart and will ever remain in our hearts. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.



  5. Geno Randazzo on May 5, 2023 at 4:00 pm

    Our condolences and prayers Tim
    We love you brother ????????????
    Joan will be missed but never forgotten ❤️



  6. Carol McGowan on May 5, 2023 at 4:05 pm

    Tim, sending payers to you and your family. My heart aches for all of you.



  7. Sue Malone on May 5, 2023 at 4:06 pm

    Tim, my condolences to you and your family. Joan was a wonderful woman. I only met her once, but her kindness was evident. I loved reading her stories. God bless you all. The world lost a good one. May Joan Rest in Peace.



  8. Martha Rodriguez on May 5, 2023 at 4:49 pm

    Ohhhhh this makes me so sad…May she rest in eternal peace!!!! Fly high Joanie….love you to the heavens!!!!! Your girls at Byline Bank!!!! ????????????



  9. Artemiza Chavez on May 5, 2023 at 4:51 pm

    My sincerest condolences on the passing of your wife. May she rest in peace in God’s loving arms. My prayers for strength during these trying times for you and your family.



    • Judy Ollry on May 5, 2023 at 6:00 pm

      A loss for journalism and our community. Sincerest condolences to Tim and family



  10. Greg Wyman on May 5, 2023 at 5:48 pm

    My condolences to the family …..its a great loss to our community



  11. Judy Ollry on May 5, 2023 at 6:01 pm

    A loss for journalism and our community. Sincerest condolences to Tim and family



  12. JOHN KURTOVICH on May 5, 2023 at 6:22 pm

    Sorry for your loss Tim, stay strong!



    • Julie Zalesny (from Team Papa Z) on May 5, 2023 at 8:06 pm

      Another lovely soul taken too soon from pancreatic cancer. My heart goes out to her family.



  13. Donna on May 5, 2023 at 6:39 pm

    So sad…I thought I recognized her…a fellow Lourdian..graduated 77…Rest in peace…condolences to her family
    Donna Artist



  14. Robert Gebel on May 5, 2023 at 6:56 pm

    My deepest condolences to you and your family. I’m so very sorry, Tim. I’m grateful to have met her.



  15. Julie Zalesny (from Team Papa Z) on May 5, 2023 at 8:06 pm

    Another lovely soul taken too soon from pancreatic cancer. My heart goes out to her family.



  16. Silvia Foti on May 5, 2023 at 8:08 pm

    My deepest condolences. Joan was one of a kind a wonderful person. I can’t believe this. ????????????



  17. Anthony Caciopo on May 5, 2023 at 8:14 pm

    “Tim n’ Joan,” it came so easy off the tongue. “Let’s call Tim n’ Joan!” I always thought Tim n’ Joan had a nice ring to it — and it still does, of course. Always will.

    Love and mercy to Joan, and to Tim, Cosmo, Johanna and the entire Hadac and Heelan family.



  18. Sharon Maslona on May 5, 2023 at 11:45 pm

    Tim I’m so sorry for your loss. I know she was the love of your life. I wish you peace Sharon Maslona



  19. Kathryn DeLaurentis on May 6, 2023 at 1:28 am

    Sorry for you loss Tim. Joan was a great lady and wrote many great stories. My daughters where sadden when I told them of Joan’s passing.



  20. Steve Neuhaus on May 6, 2023 at 11:26 am

    Tim and family. I am so sorry for your loss. Joan was a kind person and great journalist. We will all miss her. If there’s anything I can do for you please don’t hesitate. I’m keeping you and your family in my prayers my friend. God Bless all of you. Rest In Peace Joan.



  21. Joyce on May 6, 2023 at 12:20 pm

    My sympathies and prayers to the family.



  22. Sandra Davalos on May 7, 2023 at 7:40 pm

    Tim, Johanna and Mary:
    I was saddened to hear of Joan’s passing. We are thinking of you and pray that you have moments of peace and comfort.



  23. SOUTHWEST SIGNS INC on May 8, 2023 at 10:41 am

    Tim and family….How well said that for our community she was the heart of your family business. But what really counts is that she was the heart of a wonderful family who loved her very much. From our family to yours may you find real comfort and encouragement .



  24. Susan Basko on May 8, 2023 at 7:24 pm

    Mr. Hadac, I am so sorry for your loss. I have often heard of your wife as a wonderful person. You have my greatest sympathy. Sending love and prayers.



  25. Maureen Scordato on May 8, 2023 at 9:38 pm

    So sorry for your loss, Tim. She was a gifted person. Her faith was her foundation and it came through to everyone who met her. May she rest in peace. God bless you.



    • Tom Downes on May 18, 2023 at 6:02 am

      I first met Tim and Joan at St. Xavier while and ironically just a few years later at the Southwest News Herald. Looking back, those were great times and would not change them for anything. I will remember Joan in my prayers and you too, Tim. Joan was a very nice person.



  26. May her soul and the soul s of the faithful departed rest in Peace. Prayers for you and your family , Mr. Hadac.



  27. Don and Deb Krukowski on May 9, 2023 at 7:12 pm

    Tim and family. We are so sorry for your loss. God speed to heaven Joan. Please continue to reach out, we are here for you and love you



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