Hundreds mourn woman who died after CTA robbery

April 2, 2011 8:27:26 PM PDT
Loved ones gathered to mourn the life of a woman who was knocked down the stairs at a CTA el stop.

As police search for a cellphone thief who was seen running away, the victim's family is urging people to remember her passion for life.

Sally Katona-King was beloved in her community. She was well-known for helping those in need.

On Saturday, Katona-King was remembered for how she lived -- not the way she died.

"She made people laugh. She brought out things in life to remember to laugh. We all need to laugh. There's too much tragedy," said Katona-King's godniece Terry Proudian.

At her funeral Saturday morning, she was remembered as a selfless person, dedicated to helping others.

"It was beautiful, with everybody singing and all the memories of Sally that they shared over the past couple of days," said Nicole Smith, with Grein Funeral Home.

It was Monday, as the 68-year-old widow headed home from work, when she was knocked down a stairwell by a man who had stolen another commuter's iPhone.

Friends say they believe she had just gotten off the train and was about to get on a Fullerton Street bus when the robber shoved her and others as he ran away.

Katona-King died a day later from her injuries.

"She was just a great person. She would open her heart, her home," said the victim's friend Diane Gonzalez.

As Katona-King was laid to rest, the search continues for the assailant responsible for causing her death.

Earlier this week, Chicago police officers began circulating a sketch of a suspect at the Lincoln Park CTA stop where the violence occurred.

On Saturday afternoon, friends of the life-long North Sider say Katona-King served as a deacon at the First Lutheran Church of Logan Square where she worked as the bishop's assistant.

They call her a quiet activist who helped the neighborhood's homeless.

"She always brought them in to have food and opened her house for them," said the victim's friend Yvette Ramirez.

Meanwhile, a family and a community remain devastated over the loss.

"She made a difference. She makes a difference," said Katona-King's godniece Terry Proudian.

Friends say Katona-King 's other passion was her family, who she was very devoted to as well.

Chicago police are continuing their investigation, but so far, there is no one in custody and no arrests have been made.

On Sunday, there will be a special tribute to Katona-King during the 10:30 a.m. service at her church home -- First Lutheran Church.