Ralph Elliott was the victim of an apparent robbery attempt. He leaves behind a wife of 54 years.
"I feel empty, I'm lost, I'm frightened," said Dolores Elliott, the victim's wife.
Elliott shared her thoughts with ABC7 just hours before a convicted felon on parole was charged with her husband's Christmas Eve slaying.
"I spent 54 years with a man who was my friend first, my lover and then my husband. He was a loving, warm individual," Elliott said.
Relatives say Ralph Elliott drove to a nearby fast food restaurant late Thursday afternoon to pick up his favorite chicken for the traditional holiday party. Although childless, the couple had been hosting the gathering for their extended family for nearly 40 years.
Investigators say as Elliott headed to his car, a man inside the restaurant followed him out and tried to rob him. There was a struggle, and shots rang out.
The Hyde Park man was fatally wounded in the face and back. Witnesses say the attacker rummaged through the victim's pockets before running away.
Police arrested Lee Cration, 48, of Joliet, for the crime after officers found him with a gun and eyewitnesses identified him as the shooter.
Cration was charged with first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery. Cration spent two decades in prison, where he had an extensive history of violence, including assaulting staff.
Judge Israel Desierto denied bond on Saturday. He will appear again in Violence Court (Br. 66) on Monday.
"To shoot him needlessly -- if the man needed something he would have given it too him," Elliott said of her husband.
Ralph Elliott was a lifelong Chicagoan who attended the University of Illinois when it was still at Navy Pier. He spent 38 years as an executive with the Illinois Department of Employment Security, where he met his wife.
An avid chess player and fan of jazz music, Elliott is being remembered Friday for fighting for civil rights with the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
"He deserved better than that. He deserved better than that about a piece of chicken," Jackson said.
While many celebrate a season filled with the love of family, Elliott now simply struggles.
"I don't know what the 24th of December will mean for me in the future, but God will give me a direction and I will follow it," Elliott said.