joan-barr-smith

Former Evanston Mayor Joan Barr died Saturday at the age of 75.

Born Joan Worthy on Sept. 22, 1939, she grew up in Rogers Park and moved to Evanston in 1962 after receiving a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University.

She was elected 2nd Ward alderman in 1977 and, after two terms as alderman, served two terms as mayor from 1985 to 1993.

She owned a catering business and later was governmental affairs director for the American Dental Hygienists Association. Barr was active in many civic organizations, including the Dewey Community Conference, Northlight Theatre and Connections for the Homeless,

Although the mayor’s office is non-partisan, she’s considered to be the last Republican to have served as Evanston’s mayor. She also was the first woman to serve as mayor in Evanston — a job that has been held by a woman ever since.

While mayor, Barr worked to address many issues, including downtown re-development, the city’s landfill problem, and the need for a new public library.

Later in life she earned a master’s degree in management from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University in 1996 and completed training to become a deacon in Episcopal Diocese of Chicago in 2007, serving as a deacon at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Evanston, and more recently at Grace Episcopal Church in Manchester, N.H.

Family members say she died peacefully after a six-year battle with lieukemia.


Update 12:15 p.m. 3/23/15: Memorial services will be held Saturday, March 28, at 10 a.m. at St. Marks Church, 1509 Ridge Ave. 

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the church or to Northlight Theatre or the Evanston History Center.


Related story

Evanston’s laid-back mayor: Joan Barr, Illinois Issues, July 1988.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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