WOODLAWN — An 83-year-old woman described as a pillar of her community was found dead in her unheated home Wednesday night.
Mary Bee, a longtime resident of the 6500 block of South Saint Lawrence Avenue, was pronounced dead at 5:20 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.
A spokesman from the morgue said Wednesday evening that Bee's home was without heat when she was found.
A wind chill advisory was in effect in Chicago Tuesday. Wednesday's low temperature was 10 degrees at 4:51 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.
A Thursday autopsy revealed Bee died from diabetes and heart disease — natural causes, according to the morgue.
"Ms. Bee," the owner of a candy shop formerly located directly across the street from her home, could frequently be seen in a floral skirt tidying her front lawn, according to neighbors.
Bee's mailman was saddened by the news of her death.
"I've been on this route 15 years," he said. "That hurts my heart — she was a lovely lady, helped out the community whenever she could — she was sanctified."
Charles Gordon, 65, said his family was among the first black families to move onto the block — and Bee was here even before that.
"These people have been in the community forever," he said. "And she was out here doing everything herself — [she] didn't ask nobody to do nothin.' "
Bee was remembered fondly by neighbor and friend, Jacqulin Beati, 89.
"I've been down here since '76," she said. "Ms. Bee was a wonderful lady — and that candy store sure was handy."
A family member who regularly checked in on Bee declined to comment, but denied that heat was off in the building.