From Lin Brehmer to DJ Casper to Rocky Wirtz and Andre Braugher, these are the Chicago icons we lost

ByRavi Baichwal and Poinesha Barnes WLS logo
Friday, December 29, 2023
Remembering Chicago icons who passed away in 2023
From DJ Casper to Lin Brehmer, Bobby Hull to Andre Braugher, Chicago lost some significant figures in 2023.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago lost more than a few local icons this year, from NFL Hall of Famers to famed DJs to actors and political icons.

Lin Brehmer, a radio powerhouse at WXRT, died in January at the age of 68.

Robert "Bobby" Hull, led the Blackhawks to a Stanley cup in 1961. The legendary hockey player also died in January. He was 84.

Laurence Msall, long-time president of the Civic Federation and aide to two Illinois governors died in February at 61 years old.

Newton Minow, former chairmen for the federal communications commission died in May at the age of 97.

Samuel Zell was a billionaire real estate businessman. He's best known as a former owner of the Cubs and the Tribune. He died in May at age 81.

Richard "Dick" Biondi was a Top 40 and oldies DJ. The fast-talker is credited as the first U.S. disc jockey to play the Beatles, on Chicago's WLS 890 AM. He died in June. He was 90 years old.

Rocky Wirtz, former owner of the Chicago Blackhawks, died in July at the age of 70. He is credited with breathing new life into the team.

In August, Bill Pinkney died. He was the first Black person to circle the globe solo. He was 87.

We also lost William Perry Jr., better known as DJ Casper, who's known for the popular line dance song "The Cha Cha Slide." He was 58.

Richard "Dick" Butkus was a powerhouse linebacker for the Bears. He died in October at the age of 80 with eight pro bowls under his belt.

In October, we lost Harry Porterfield, admired across the city for his series "Someone you should know."

The Longtime WLS-TV personality died in October. He was 87.

Chicago also lost Marilyn Katz in October, best known for leading protests during the 1968 Democratic National Convention when police forces became violent. She was 78.

Famed Chicago Sculptor Richard Hunt died in December. He was 88. One of his last sculptures, "Book Bird," will be on display at the Obama Presidential Center.

Chicago native Andre Braugher died in December at age 61.

He's best known for his roles in "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and "Homicide: Life on the Street."

Also in December, Bettiann Gardner died at age 93. She was the co-founder of the Black Hair Care company Soft Sheen and first female co-owner of the Chicago Bulls.

As we end 2023, Chicagoans are looking back on some of those who played significant roles in weaving the fabric of our great city.