The Lelewer Legacy
Media in Print
September 23, 2010
By CHRISTOPHER PETERSON email@example.com
Nancy Lelewer can trace her heritage from humble beginnings in 19th Century Germany to rubbing elbows with American socialites, innovators and leaders nearly a century later.
Much of her family’s path runs through Chicago and along the North Shore.
Lelewer, 75, a Highland Park native, recently wrote a book to tell her family’s story. The book is called “The Lelewer Legacy: Traditions of a Loving Family” and is published by Ivy House Publishing Group.
Lelewer wrote the book to recognize her family’s accomplishments and to continue a written history for future generations.
Lelewer recalled childhood trips to visit the family on Chicago’s South Side, where she would listen to the adults tell tales of the family’s past. They would often refer to Lelewer’s great grandfather’s autobiography, written in 1910.
Lelewer grew fascinated by what she was learning.
“I began to appreciate the fact that if he hadn’t written that book, I really wouldn’t know about my ancestors before him, or what life was like in the old country for him and his family,” she said.
With her own book, Lelewer did not aim to chronicle family events or outline the family genealogy. Rather, she sought to share family traditions and illustrate them with stories.
Considering her family’s early exodus from Germany to escape poverty in the mid-1800s, Lelewer said she is proud of the Lelewers’ impact on Chicago business — notably the family hat business that grew to become a staple.
Along the way, the family crossed paths with Chicago notables ranging from mobster Al Capone to Chuck Walgreen II, who was CEO of the Walgreens stores for thirty years.
Lelewer herself touts a keen business sense. In the 1980s she co-founded a business, USA Permobil Inc., which sells computerized wheelchairs.
Lelewer said she hopes her book will one day act as a reference point for her future generations, and that someone might eventually pick up where she left off.
Lelewer currently lives in Boston. Her previous book, an autobiography, is titled “Something’s Not Right: One Family’s Struggle with Learning Disabilities.”