Beatrice Crain, better known as Bee to her friends and family was the grand lady of Chicago. She loved Chicago. She had a personal relationship with many of the leading citizens of this City. Through the Crain-Maling Foundation she was able to support many of Chicago’s organizations including, the University of Chicago, the American Jewish Committee, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, WMFT and others. She had a life-long respect for the University of Chicago physicians. That relationship is a story in itself. At the end of WWII when the U.S. military occupied Japan, Dr. Joseph Kirsner was assigned to the hospital at Nagoya. It just so happened when her husband, the late Richard Crain became ill he ended up under the care of Dr. Kirsner. Realizing they were both from Chicago’s Hyde Park, the bonding was quick and lasted a life time. On returning to Chicago, when medical problems arose in the Crain family, Dr. Kirsner was usually the first to be consulted. When friends and patients founded GIRF to support the research of Dr. Kirsner at the University of Chicago, the Crain family threw their support behind the organization. That support had continued to this day through the generosity of the Crain-Maling Foundation. Bee would sometimes talk about her wonderful life as a young woman. Her father owned a clothing store 48th and Ashland. Young Bee was sent to New York to buy women’s clothing to be sold in Chicago. In New York Bee would watch young women model the clothing. She was so pleased with this role it dissuaded her from pursuing a profession outside of the family business.

Bee was sensitive to the feelings of those with whom she had contact. Her recorded cell phone response was: “Sorry I missed your call”. It emphasized her concern for the caller rather than herself. Her thinking was analytical, no doubt from growing up with a business oriented family. On making a recommendation her standard response was “What are the alternatives?”

It was my distinct pleasure and fortune to be a neighbor, friend and physician for Bee. I can still remember when she first consulted me about a medical problem. I knew she had several physicians close by at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine. (The school is named after Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Feinberg. Mrs Feinberg was Bee’s sister.) After I listened to her story I asked which of her doctors at Northwestern should I contact to explain her problem. She simply replied, “You are my doctor”. Bee was on the Board of Directors of many different organizations. It seems GIRF was dearest to her heart. After celebrating her 100th birthday on April 7th, she was looking forward to the next GIRF ball scheduled for May 1 when she would be the honoree. One day in the middle of March she calmly asked “Do you think I will make it to May first?” Serenity was part of her nature. Even when it was clear her days were numbered, she did not panic. I don’t recall her getting excited about anything.

Bee was an honest person and expected those around her to be likewise honest. Years ago she told me a story about when she and a lady-friend were playing golf together. When they teed off, her companion’s first ball landed about 4 inches from cup #1. Of course her friend was happy and excited about the near “hole-in-one”. But when they returned to the club house her friend had a different story. She told all her friends she had made a “hole-in-one”. Bee could not believe her ears but she did not contradict the lie in front of the surrounding golfers. But, Bee dropped her relationship with that friend and never renewed it.

It was a joy for Mrs. Rogers and I to accompany Bee to many of the civic functions to which she invited us. She always seemed to be the center of attraction. She always spoke highly of the people around her. I never heard a derogatory comment from her about anybody. Bee took life very seriously. In her conversation she always focused on the center of the issues. I never heard her curse or tell a joke. She always had a smile, but I do not recall her ever bursting out with a loud belly laugh.

Bee Crain was an absolutely unique woman. She was raised by a loving family who gave her opportunities that were accepted and embellished. Living through the 20th century she experienced many events most of her fellow Americans read in history books. Almost every device we use today was invented during her life-time. Bee lived with her iPhone in her hand. Her mind was sharp and memory intact to the very end. No wonder she always spoke with such wisdom. All who knew her loved her and respected her for what she was. Let us always keep the fond memories of the wonderful person she was in our hearts and minds.

Bertram Henry Gerald Rogers, M.D.
June 1, 2021