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Cafe Selmarie Mourns Loss Of Co-Founder Jeanne Uzdawinis

By Patty Wetli | October 11, 2017 9:02am
 Uzdawinis, who died Sunday, is being remembered for her smile, her warmth and her artistry.
Uzdawinis, who died Sunday, is being remembered for her smile, her warmth and her artistry.
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Facebook/Cafe Selmarie

LINCOLN SQUARE — Lincoln Square is mourning the loss of long-time resident and Cafe Selmarie co-founder Jeanne Uzdawinis, who died Sunday of ovarian cancer.

"We are beyond devastated to have lost this vibrant, generous, loving being who helped create our wonderful restaurant and a 'home' for our many employees and customers," the restaurant posted to Facebook.

Uzdawinis and business partner Birgit Kobayashi, who met as neighbors on Giddings Street, opened Selmarie in 1983, starting out with a handful of tables, serving pastries and coffee. Today, it's impossible to picture the Square without the cafe anchoring the community's main plaza.

Condolences have been pouring in from neighbors past and present, with Uzdawinis remembered for her "great happy smile," "amazing spirit," "grace and artistry" and as the very "heart of Lincoln Square."

For many, Uzdawinis, through her "glorious cakes," is inextricably linked with memories of family milestones, including countless birthdays, weddings and anniversaries.

Uzdawinis was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. Her husband John Boesche and the couple's daughter Madeleine (Maddy) shared Jeanne's final struggle through journal entries posted to CaringBridge.

Boesche encouraged people to toast his wife with a glass of red wine: "[Jeanne] considered red wine food. Food for the body. The mind. And the soul.... Raise a glass and toast: To Life!"

Visitation has been set for 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at Drake & Son Funeral Home, 5303 N. Western Ave.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made in Jeanne's name to Bright Pink, a Chicago-based organization dedicated to early detection of and education about women's cancers, especially focused on younger women.