JOLIET – Diana Stonitsch had tremendous pride in her family – her immediate family and her Joliet family.
Her television show, “Special People,” which ran at least 15 years on Community TV Channel 6, showed that pride and introduced viewers to the people Stonitsch felt made Joliet great – from the chief of police to the homecoming queen to everyone in between.
“My mom just loved people and she loved Joliet,” said Alice “Kiki” Schwartz of Chicago, one of Stonitsch’s three daughters. “She was the biggest cheerleader for Joliet of anyone I know. And when she talked to you, she made you feel like the most special person in the world.”
Diana died Saturday at age 87.
Rarely seen without one of her many hats, Stonitsch was also the “On The Spot” commentator at the fashion shows spotlighting the former Hansen’s Villa in Manhattan. These shows were held Wednesdays at Al’s Steak House in Joliet, Schwartz said.
Whether a person modeled for a fashion show, appeared on “Special People” or was associated with any number of Joliet’s organizations – many of which received a mention on “Special People” – Stonitsch never forgot a face and remembered important details about each person.
“She celebrated all walks of life,” Schwartz said. “She was a very special person.”
An only child who traveled frequently with her father, Stonitsch adopted her late husband Gil Stonitsch’s family, his Joliet community and even his religion, converting to Catholicism and becoming an active member of St. Paul the Apostle Church in Joliet, Schwartz said.
For many years at Christmastime, Diana and Gil held an open house so no one would spend the holidays alone, Schwartz said. Diana had tremendous faith and believed that praying to God gave one guidance, support and direction.
“She always said, ‘Shoot for the moon,’” Schwartz said. “’Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.’”
Schwartz paused and then added, “All I know is that heaven has got another angel and it’s a lot brighter up there now.”
Diana also is the mother of Laura Conrad of Arizona and Mary Augello of Park Ridge, the grandmother of three and the great-grandmother of two. Funeral services will be scheduled at a later date.