Eloise Bradly Fink
Pen Name: None
Born: 1927 in Decatur, Illinois
Died: 2011 in Virginia Beach, Virginia
Fink was born in Decatur, Illinois and lived in Winnetka, Illinois. She graduated with honors in English from the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign. She taught writing courses at the Water Tower Campus of Loyola University and traveled around the state for the Illinois Arts Council.
Biographical and Professional Information
The following information comes from a Chicago Tribune article dated July 4, 2011.
Eloise Bradley Fink, 1927-2011
Award-winning poet, passionate teacher
By Erin Meyer, Tribune reporter
July 4, 2011
The poem that won Eloise Bradley Fink first place in a Chicago poetry contest in 1981 began, "When I was eight, Chicago was the world the newspapers made real." The title was "Color of Home."
It was the first of many published poems by the North Shore writer who shared her passion for the English language with her family, friends and other writers, young and old.
Mrs. Fink, 84, died of pneumonia Sunday, June 12, at a Virginia Beach hospital, said her daughter Alison Halm.
Mrs. Fink grew up in the small town of Decatur, where her father worked for the railroad and her mother was a secret shopper.
While studying English at the University of Illinois, she met another writer, John Fink. They married in 1949. After she graduated, the couple moved to Chicago, where her husband had been hired by the City News Bureau. They later settled in Winnetka. Mr. Fink became an editor of the Chicago Tribune Magazine. The couple later divorced. He died in 1995.
In Winnetka, Mrs. Fink spent more than 40 years writing and sharing her passion for poetry as a teacher.
"She loved Winnetka," said Halm, describing her mother writing late at night on the living-room sofa under her favorite faux fur blanket, a cat curled on her lap.
As a freelancer for the Chicago Tribune, Mrs. Fink penned articles about her family and imbued travel pieces with verse through the 1960s and 1970s. She was an Illinois Arts Council artist-in-residence and was director of public relations for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
"She was like Emily Dickinson in her speech, just kind of tossing off metaphors," said Robert Siegel, a student of Mrs. Fink's in 1952, when she taught eighth-grade at Arlington Heights Junior High School. "She spoke poetry to the very end."
Siegel remembered walking with his classmates into a field near the school with an assignment to find metaphors in nature.
"She was born bubbling over with metaphors. I didn't find one, but I made up for it later," said Siegel, who went on to become an accomplished writer and English professor. "She was really my muse, in a sense. I think she kind of gave away her poems to all of us as a teacher."
Halm said her mother most enjoyed teaching an adult poetry class in the evenings at New Trier High School Extension.
"She had a real following; it was almost like a community of people who rose up around her," said Lydia Webster, who enrolled in the class in 1983. "When I think about her legacy, the word 'light' comes to mind."
Mrs. Fink co-founded a nonprofit publishing company called Thorntree Press and wrote two books of poetry: "The Girl in the Empty Nightgown," published in 1986, and "Lincoln and the Prairie After," published in 1999.
Her work has been recognized by two Bread Loaf Writer's Conference Fellowships, a Ragdale Fellowship, two Friends of Literature Awards and Gwendolyn Brooks' Significant Poet Award.
In addition to Halm, Mrs. Fink is survived by another daughter, Sara Reilly; a son, Joel Fink; and four grandchildren.
- Girl in the Empty Nightgown, Thorntree Press, 1987
- Lincoln and the Prairie After, Thorntree Press, 1998
Titles for Purchase and at Your Library
Girl in the empty nightgown
First prize in the Chicago Tribune Poetry contest. Her work has been recognized by two Bread Loaf Writer's Conference Fellowships, a Ragdale Fellowship, two Friends of Literature Awards and Gwendolyn Brooks' Significant Poet Award.
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