Celebrity chronicler Mary Cameron Frey dies at 86!
The celebrity chronicler for the Sun-Times and Crain’s Chicago Business Mary Cameron Frey who used to cover events and the society’s movers and shakers died at age 86, Feder reports.
Mary Cameron Frey and her demise
Mary Cameron Frey was a common at events in Chicago. She has died at Charleston, South Carolina on this Wednesday 26 December 2018. She was 86 at the time of her death. Media reports state that she had moved to this new home earlier this year in order to be closer to her son Billy Cameron and his family. The death was due to natural causes.
Mary Cameron and her family and career
Mary was the wife of former Bell & Howell CEO Donald Frey and was the second of his four wives. Donald was also the Ford Motor Company chief engineer who designed the Ford Mustang. Mary used to move in the elite circles and was well-suited to the job she used to do. It was through his contacts that she could meet various Presidents and Prime Ministers. She was born in 1932 and was a columnist for Sun-Times and Crain’s Chicago Business. She used to chronicle all the major social events.
Neil Steinberg who is also a chronicler called her one of Chicago’s ‘majestic women’. He also stated that she was ‘a doyen from another era, the intersection of upper crust society and daily newspaper journalism’.
She had an individual style and wit which was mesmerizing. She was also famous for the Christmas parties she hosted annually at her apartments on Lake Shore Drive and East Chestnut Street and which were attended by the Chicago’s city’s power elite.
She retired in 2011 and donated more than 30 designer evening gowns to raise funds for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago and Benton Harbor, Michigan. She loved traveling and gardening.
She is survived by a son, two grandchildren, and a great granddaughter.
Tributes for Mary Cameron
Mary’s close friend Joycelyn Winnecke who also worked with Frey as managing editor of the Sun-Times said:
“Mary was always in charge, in every room and every situation,”
Joycelyn wrote on her Facebook page:
“Her beat was bigger and more important than parties. Mary covered the money and the civic and corporate leaders who raised it, contributed it, and spent countless volunteer hours deciding how best to spend it — building theaters, parks and symphonies, funding child care programs and rape crisis lines. This network has long been an integral part of the fabric of Chicago, and Mary’s coverage was an important contribution.
“She was sharp witted and sharp tongued. Mostly, though, she looked out for people, especially me. I will miss her.”
Shia Kapos who was reporter at politico.com and later became a columnist for Sun-Times and Crain’s Chicago Busines said:
“Mary taught me how money, business and politics all come together. I remember her taking me to Gibsons for lunch and was awed that she knew everyone in the room — and they knew her. High-end customers in the room would give her a nod or stop by to share news. It was really a sight to be seen,”
“What I loved was that she wasn’t cowed by titles. She’d throw zingers out to CEOs just as easily as she would to waiters. I remember a top executive stopping by our table that day at Gibsons to say hello and she told him how nice it was to see him a few days earlier with a beautiful woman on his arm. He mumbled thank you and walked away. Mary chuckled as he headed out the door because the man was married and the woman on his arm wasn’t his wife. She knew everyone’s secrets.”
John Barron, former Sun-Times publisher wrote:
“Frey was in the office every day and out on the town every night, perfectly dressed and coiffed for any encounter,”
“Mary covered the movers and shakers of Chicago with the passion and intensity of a dogged beat reporter,”
“Her readers always received a great insight into Chicago society, but she was equally entertaining … and educating … in the newsroom. We were the lucky beneficiaries of her unedited observation, matched with devastating wit.
“She knew everybody and was always ready to help with background, context and, most crucially, a phone number.”
Margie Korshak who is a public relations icon and knew Mary said:
“She was a hoot who loved being with people. She was very smart and cagey, and a tough lady in the best sense of the word. She was the last of a dying breed.”
Chaz Ebert who is wife of film critic Roger Ebert said:
“One of my favorite memories of Mary is when I gave her a birthday party and she had us put ‘70’ on the cake. The very next year her son gave her a birthday party and he put a ‘75’ on the cake. We were all surprised. But she just laughed and said that at that point in life she gets to choose which age she wants to celebrate!”
Her son Bill said:
“For years before working as a columnist, she was a fundraiser for these non-profits and she just would not take no for an answer,”
“I remember she was once asked ‘How do you get all these CEOs to donate?’ and she said ‘I call them and ask them.’ And when she was asked ‘What if they don’t call you back?’ she said: ‘I call their wives.’”
Roche Schulfer, executive director of the Goodman Theatre stated:
“With her trademark wit and professional grace, Mary’s tireless support of Goodman Theatre’s charitable efforts over the decades helped establish a broader awareness of, and respect for, the not-for-profit theater industry here. She has made an indelible mark on our city, and we are grateful.”
Source: chicago.suntimes.com, daily Herald