Deborah Jo Rankin Gunn, a longtime resident of Glencoe, IL and Evanston, IL, passed away surrounded by family on April 18, 2018 in Fairfax, Virginia. The daughter of Wilson and Jean (Cohen) Rankin, Deborah was born in Great Lakes, IL. on June 14, 1946. During her marriage she was blessed with a daughter, Leslie Gunn Perez. In her early years, she was very active in her home and school community of Glencoe, IL. She was a graduate of the class of 1964 of New Trier High School in Winnetka, IL. Later she attended Simpson College in Iowa and Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.
Her professional career began in early childhood education and ultimately led to a successful career in television. During her early childhood education career, her many accomplishments included Montessori Certification. For many years she was a Lead Teacher at the Chiaravalle Montessori School in Evanston, IL. Her passion for educating children led to establishing the first Montessori School in Montego Bay, Jamaica, where she served as Founding Director for several years.
Upon her decision to change career paths, she returned to Evanston and enrolled at Northeastern Illinois University to study Media and Communications. Her creativity and many talents led to her selection as one of the first interns at The Oprah Winfrey Show. The next step on her career path was with Central City Productions, Chicago, IL, where she produced Minority Business Report, The Stellar Awards, and Know Your Heritage. She culminated her career at WLS-TV, Chicago, where she produced public affairs programming and People, Places and Things, which enabled her to interview African American cultural icons, celebrities and business leaders. Among her interviews were Michael Jordan, Maya Angelou, and then-Senator Barack Obama. Her talents were recognized by the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) with multiple Emmy nominations and two Emmy® Awards for Special Event Programming: 190 North Grand Excursion (2005) and for Informational Programming: People, Places & Things: African Americans in Print (2004).
Deborah’s community service also included mentoring Chicago high school students and, for more than a decade, volunteering on the NATAS Board. For NATAS, she served as Midwest Chapter Vice President and also produced the TV Station General Managers’ event, the Emmy Nominations announcement at the Hard Rock Hotel and the Chicago Emmy® Awards at the Goodman Theatre.
Deborah is survived by her daughter Leslie Gunn Perez (Calixto), her two granddaughters, Graciela Perez and Isabelle Perez, and her sister, Mona Rankin. She leaves behind a host of cousins and friends who became as close as family.
Following a private burial in Northbrook, IL, a celebration of Deborah’s life will be scheduled in Chicago.
All expressions of sympathy are appreciated. Should you wish, gifts can be made in memory of Deborah Jo Rankin Gunn in support of the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute and mailed to:
MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
Office of Philanthropy
1 Main/Hospital Administration
3800 Reservoir Rd. NW
Washington, DC 20007
Questions may be directed to Ms. Ashley Lichty at (202) 444-0721 or Ashley.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The family shares special thanks to Deborah’s medical team at Georgetown University Hospital, Inova Fairfax Hospital and Sunrise Assisted Living in Oakton, Virginia.
‘Cause her to enter the garden of happiness, cleanse her with the most pure water and grant her to behold Thy splendor on the loftiest mount.’ Abdu’l-Bahá