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Aggie Daniels, newspaper publisher and community activist, loved Worth


(From April 19, 2012)

Agnes Daniels, a former Worth resident who founded a newspaper devoted to the Friendly Village, is being remembered by friends and family as an inspiring woman who gave much back to the community in which she lived for more than 50 years.

Mrs. Daniels died April 9 at her home in South Milwaukee, Wis. She was 92.

Mrs. Daniels and her husband, John, founded and published the Worth Record in 1954 because a local Boy Scout troop and youth baseball teams were having trouble publicizing information about their events. Aggie, as she was known, also published the Hickory Hills Record, wrote a column called "The Cracker Barrel" for the Worth Citizen, and was a community activist.

Worth resident Colleen McElroy, a friend of Aggie's, said Mrs. Daniels was influential in the town. McElroy met Mrs. Daniels last year when she began working on a book about the village's photographic history last year.

"She was a bulldog," McElroy said. "She was a fighter in this town. When she knew that something was right, she stood up for it and wouldn't let go."

McElroy, a village trustee and curator of the Worth Park District's Historical Museum, said Mrs. Daniels worked on establishing the Worth Pool in the 1980s, was the founding secretary of the Worth Chamber of Commerce, and served as the first secretary of the Community Credit Union. She was also a member of the Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post 991 Auxiliary, the Worth Sewer Advisory Committee, the Illinois Press Association and the Women's Press Association. She was also influential in persuading the Worth School District 127 board of education to purchase the property on which Worth Junior High was built, McElroy said.

Aggie in 1973 helped found Care of the Earth, a nonprofit group that worked to thwart a plan to make the Lucas Berg gravel pit a landfill, McElroy said. She was also the chairperson of the Worth Planning and Zoning commission for four years, chairman of Worth's Diamond Jubilee festival, and a founding member of the Worth Park District Historical Museum.

State Rep. Maggie Crotty (D-35) in 1997 named Sunday, June 22 as Agnes Daniels Day in recognition of the woman's contributions to the community.

Mrs. Daniels moved to South Milwaukee in 2001 to be closer to two of her daughters. Another of her children, Worth resident Barb Fredrichs, said her mother was very caring.

"She was a fantastic mother who was always there for us," Fredrichs said. "She always gave us her undivided support."

Fredrichs said it was interesting to have a mother who was so involved in the community.

"My sister learned to type on mom's linotype, and I got to run and fold the mimeograph machine, which was good office experience for me," Fredrichs said. "The main lesson she taught us was to always be truthful and honest."

Mrs. Daniels inspired Barb to join the Worth Fire Department's auxiliary, a position she held for 10 years. Fredrichs said there is not anywhere in town that does not remind her of her mother.

"Let me tell you, she always had her fingers on her typewriter," Fredrichs said. "She wrote letters to people, not emails. She was old fashioned. She always kept her fingers going. We even just bought her a new IBM typewriter a few months ago."

When she wasn't writing, Mrs. Daniels other favorite pastime was canning - making her own homemade jellies and canned fruits, Fredrichs said.

"A couple of my cousins wouldn't go to school unless they had 'Auntie A's' grape jelly on their peanut butter sandwiches," she recalled.

McElroy said Aggie was an inspiration to the people of Worth.

"She was such a giving, selfless person," McElroy said. "She was very committed to her family and to the town. Aggie is an icon."

Mrs. Daniels is among the persons featured in the "Women of Worth" exhibit at the Worth Historical Museum. In one section, Aggie shares her personal life philosophy in a newspaper article that reads, "I'd like to leave the world a better place. And if not the whole world, at least the spot I'm in."

Visitation for Mrs. Daniels was held Thursday, April 12 at Chapel Hill Gardens South in Oak Lawn. A funeral Mass was held Friday, April 13 at Sacred Heart Church in Palos Hills. Interment was at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Worth.

Mrs. Daniels is survived by her daughters, Teri Daniels, Barbara Fredrichs, Mary Klamrowski and Linda Benson; her sister, Sister Marian Coughlin; five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren; and her friends, Brian and Karen Andrist.