This issue marks the thirty-fourth anniversary of Newcity and we again mark the occasion by looking forward, instead of retrospectively; this year with the help of some of the city’s most visionary leaders (“Perfect Visions: Eleven Leaders on How The Twenties Will Roar in Chicago”).
But I am going to look back in this letter, as my father died on January 1.
Curtis J. Hieggelke was a physicist, with a PhD from the University of Nebraska, who devoted his life to teaching, both students at Joliet Junior College where he spent his entire career, as well as other teachers around the country, through his workshops funded by the National Science Foundation, where he was known as an innovator in community college education. I’ve been thinking about him, and learning so much about his impact on others around the country these last couple weeks while writing his obituary and a eulogy for his funeral.
But the impact I’ve thought most about was on me. He was my teacher too. This publication would not exist without him. He never wrote an article for us, nor shot a photo or designed a cover. But insatiable curiosity, a love for vigorous but polite debate, a commitment to reading and valuing great writing and the ambition to make a difference in the world were values he taught me through his example.
He supported us in so many ways, whether encouraging me when times were tough, or simply by reading the publication closely, especially my writing, and letting me know he thought what we were doing was important and that he was proud of me. He came to so many of our events over the years and blended right in. As one of his close friends described him, he was a scientist with a liberal-arts mind. His very last public outing before pancreatic cancer overwhelmed him was the Chicago premiere of our latest film, “Knives and Skin,” at the Chicago International Film Festival in October. As sad as I am that he’ll never read another article I write or see another movie I’ll produce, the memory of his excitement that night, both at the film and at the after-party where he found the energy to take part in the conversations and the congratulations that followed comfort me. I’ll miss him beyond words, but I take solace in the fact that my mom, who was always by his side, literally and figuratively, is still vigorous.
Newcity did not have an editor’s letter when Jan’s parents, Shelby and Richard, died in 2013 and 2015 respectively, but if we did, we’d have written something very similar. Jan’s mom was a rock of support, especially when we blended youth, parenting and a startup business in our early twenties, and needed someone who could step in and babysit at any time when the demands of getting Newcity off the ground required it. Jan’s dad was a carpenter and he literally built much of Newcity, from our first light table (when production was done physically rather than digitally), to building out the entire office space when we had our largest staff and largest office back in the nineties.
Newcity is described as a family business due to the number of Hieggelkes who’ve worked here over the years, but the family that makes it work is much larger.
With eternal gratitude,
Look for Newcity’s February 2020 print edition at over 1000 Chicago-area locations this week or subscribe to the print edition at newcity.com/subscribe.
In this issue:
Punk Adolescence Lost: The quest to find Apathetics’ archives