ROGERS PARK — A widow has been left to raise her three children — aged 1, 3 and 6 — after a motorist hit her husband and brother as they crossed Devon Avenue about a week before Thanksgiving.
Tsering Dorjee, a 44-year-old Tibetan refugee, died Nov. 12. His brother-in-law, who is expected to make a full recovery, was released from the hospital only recently with a broken leg.
"This poor woman. Oh, it's a tragedy," said the family's doctor, Jim Clancy, who attended a fundraiser Wednesday night to raise money for Dorjee's wife, Klasang Wangmo, who is a homemaker.
The Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce, where Dorjee was the vice president, put on the fundraiser at Leona's restaurant on Sheridan Road.
Bill Morton, chamber president and Dorjee's long-time friend, vows to hold a fundraiser each year until the youngest of Dorjee's children turns 18.
Clancy's office, Rogers Park Family Medicine, has donated $2,000 since the incident, Morton said, and on Wednesday night alone the community raised more than $1,600 for the family.
"I was with the kids when they were born," Clancy said. "They're family."
Dorjee worked at the County Clerk's Office for the past 14 years alongside Rogers Park resident Steve Winkler, who was Dorjee's neighbor for several years.
"Every time he would come in the office he would say, 'Hi, neighbor'," Winkler said at the fundraiser. "Everybody in the office that knew him was shocked."
County Clerk David Ohr set up a memorial fund as well. Donations can be sent to Tsering Dorjee Memorial Fund, Citibank, California & Devon Branch, 2801 W. Devon Ave., Chicago, IL 60645.
The man who hit Dorjee and his brother-in-law, Fernando Jasso Perez, 23, is being held on $750,000 bond after being charged in the hit-and-run. Perez fled the scene in a dark blue Volkswagen Beetle and was arrested three days later, according to reports.
Morton met Dorjee in 2000 at the now-closed Chase Cafe. Morton said they had became good friends over the years while working together to save the Adelphi Theater before it was razed in 2006.
In February 2008, Dorjee paid for Morton to go to India to visit his family.
"He wanted me to understand his culture," Morton said. After meeting his family and touring Buddhist landmarks in India, Morton said it "changed my life."
Dorjee had been working to move the rest of his family to the United States, including his mother, who was planning to come next month, Morton said. Family in India only recently told her of the accident.
"He was really looking forward to his mother coming," Morton said.