The Crusader Newspaper Group

Theresa Fambro Hooks – an iconic columnist leaves her mark

Her last column ended with a -30- mark, an editing symbol that notes the end of news copy. On Sunday, January 31, Theresa “TeeSee” Fambro left her final mark as the legendary columnist for the Chicago Defender. Her story was about life. It took 80 years to complete and it’s a masterpiece that everyone around town is still talking about as thousands say farewell to this great woman.

TeeSee’s life may have ended, but her story will be told by many generations to come. Her column would long be remembered as her personal history book of Black life in Chicago.

About her column. There’s that saying “To Know Him (Her) is to Love Him (Her).” But to know “TeeSee,” you had to know her column. She wrote it for the Chicago Defender beginning in 1961. She always had lots of people to visit, places to see and words to say. This enterprising journalist brought a “Who’s Who” and a “What’s What” to Black Chicago. If your event or name appeared in that column you had arrived. Often carrying a bag including a camera TeeSee’s Town, TeeSee’s style and zest for life was part of her brand that touched many lives.

In the Chicago Crusader archives, there are photos of her being everywhere and with everyone. Even modern day celebrities and artists such as Common and Jaime Foxx found themselves in photos with TeeSee. She was always in her finest threads at functions, charity events and grand affairs. Who can forget that one-piece vintage dress she wore in 1973 at an event at McCormick Place. Even during a fitness class she took in Washington Park in 1976, TeeSee’s nails were polished, her hair beautifully made up and her cute short set dazzling. Her social graces charmed many. Her style turned heads.

As a journalist, TeeSee always had her camera everywhere she went. She was the master of her craft and stay ahead of her competitors.

Whether in the Black press or mainstream media, newspapers don’t produce many society columnists like TeeSee anymore. You just don’t see TeeSee’s anymore. TeeSee retired in April 2015.

TeeSee’s life began in Chicago on May 5, 1935. She graduated from then Parker High School (It’s now Robeson High School). She attended the University of Illinois, Roosevelt University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in their fashion Design Department.

She has earned countless awards and was a member of numerous social organizations. Just a few of those organizations were: the Metropolitan Clusters, Drifters, Dozens, Mannequins, the Moles and the Carousels. Her biggest and favorite organization of them all was the Black community. She earned awards including the Black Woman’s Expo Phenomenal Woman Award, the Black Public Relations Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Russ Ewing Legacy Award of Excellence and NABJ’s Outstanding Journalist Award.

Early in her career she worked for Parker House Sausage Company, special assistant to the president of Olive Harvey College and for Philco-Ford’s Chicago Residential Manpower Center and Coors Brewing Company. Some of her public relations clients included ETA Creative Art Foundation, the Abraham Lincoln Center and The Woodlawn Organization.

Dorothy R. Leavell, publisher of the Chicago Crusader said she had worked with TeeSee in 1980 to organize and carry out the plan for the 1980 National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) convention, held in Chicago. Mrs. Leavell said, “TeeSee was a tireless worker and knew everyone that we reached out to make the convention one of the most memorable in NNPA’s history. She will be missed as one of Chicago’s most colorful citizens.”

TeeSee’s affiliations included such notable organizations as the Girl Scouts, YWCA, Adoption Information Services, Midwest Sickle Cell Association, and the West Chesterfield Garden Club. She also served as president of the National Association of Media Women and as chair of the Chicago chapter.

Services were held on Thursday, February 11, 2015 at Trinity United Church of Christ, where she was a longtime member and a choir member. A wake was held on Wednesday evening at the Leak and Sons Funeral Home, who were entrusted with her services. Interment was at Burr Oak Cemetery.


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