Roger Ebert's legacy lives on through wife Chaz 1 year after his death

April 4, 2014 (CHICAGO)

PHOTOS: Roger Ebert through the years

His widow Chaz Ebert has been keeping his name alive as she reflects on her loss and her hopes to continue his legacy as she fulfills his dreams. On Friday, Ebert showed Eyewitness News never-before-seen photographs of a statue that will honor her best friend.

Roger Ebert reviewed movies for nearly five decades before cancer would silence his voice, but he continued to publish online and in print right up until his death last year at the age of 70.

Chaz Ebert says what she misses most about Roger was that he made her laugh and he enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren.

"It's been a difficult last year without him because he was so full of life and he was so joyful and optimistic. It was fun to live with Roger and I miss him a lot," said Chaz.

But she says her husband of 21 years always makes himself known. Chaz says on a recent trip to South America, while hiking the Andes mountains in Argentina, she says she could feel his presence.

"I know I felt Roger when I was there and I know I was smiling, I was singing and I asked someone to take a picture of me with my walking poles right where I felt Roger," said Chaz.

Chaz says its moments like that that inspire her to keep her going even during the most challenging times. She says she spends most days with her family, working with students she calls the Ebert Scholars and continuing the work on Roger's most treasured projects.

"I have been so busy with the website he loved and was so proud of," said Chaz. "I get so many letters or emails or comments of people telling me how much Roger meant to them or he mentored someone. I am surprised at the number of filmmakers who became filmmakers because of Roger."

Chaz is looking forward to Ebertfest at the end of April in Champaign, where a bronze statue of his likeness will be unveiled. She says she is honored to continue his legacy and before his death, Roger shared these supportive words with his signature symbol of two thumbs up.

"He sincerely loved me unconditionally, I feel the energy that kind of love generates," said Chaz. "He said just picture me being in the front row and know that I am supporting you."

Ebertfest is celebrating directors Oliver Stone and Spike Lee. Chaz say she is working on a book about her journey and life with Roger. She also says she hopes that one day there is a humanitarian award named in his honor that will celebrate filmmakers who make movies that have a positive impact on the world.

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