Margaret "Marge" Bellisario died Jan. 3 of complications from ovarian cancer. She was 50.
At the time of her death, Bellisario lived in Forest View, Illinois. She became the sole owner of Forest View Lounge Bar and Grill in Forest View following the death of her life partner of 16 years, Donalou Hendon, on Nov. 10, 2017. On Oct. 26, 2018, Bellisario decided to close the establishment due to her own declining health.
Bellisario was born April 25, 1968, in Berwyn, where she spent most of her life. She went to J.S. Morton High School and Morton College where she got an associate's degree in art. Bellisario was also featured in the online publication Voyage Chicago in July 2017.
She is survived by her parents Elaine and Paul Bellisario, brother Paul ( Amy ), nephews Paul and John Bellisario, and extended family and friends.
Elaine told Windy City Times that her daughter was always well liked by the people in her neighborhood and would always help people who were being picked on throughout her life. She also explained that her daughter had a love of animals from an early age and wanted to rescue them whenever she found one without an owner.
"I experienced Marge as a giver," said Holy Covenant MCC Pastor Martha Daniels. "She opened Forest View Lounge to our church as a venue for our Drag Queen Bingo nights, a popular fundraiser for, not only our members, but for the western suburban LGBT+ community in general. It was intimate and friendly, with the usual banter between queen/caller and players made more intense by their knowledge of each other.
"We were all friends. It was a Cheers-like atmosphere, which put an interesting twist on drag queen bingo. Marge helped us and we tried to help her. We would come early for dinner and order snacks or an extra round to make sure she made her numbers that night. Some folks came over other nights as well. She will be greatly missed, not simply because of the bingos, but because of her heart and her generosity."
"I have known Marge since sixth grade and my husband Tom has been friends with her brother for nearly 30 years," said longtime friend Paula Chyna. "If I had not met Marge, then I would never have met my husband and have our two beautiful children. You will always be in our thoughts and forever in our hearts. Rest in peace Marge."
"Marge please know that the people you leave behind all have a piece of you inside them," said another longtime friend, Pamela G. "You will always be on this earth dwelling in the hearts and minds of those who loved you. We will not say goodbye. We will simply put our hands over our hearts and feel your larger than life presence. With all my love and also for the goofy nickname, Melvin."
"After losing my mom to the same type of cancer that Marge had and not being ready to go anywhere for a year after losing my mom, I finally decided to go to Marge's bar," said friend Debbie Lucas. "If it was not for Marge, I do not know where I would be today. She pulled me out of a slump and became one of my dearest friends and I will never forget her. I am eternally grateful.
"Marge had a way of making everyone feel comfortable. She was such a unselfish and generous person who always put herself before everyone else. Marge gave people nicknames that are forever branded on us. Some not the most flattering, but very comical. That was her way. She was one in a million."
"I am remembering everything we experienced while growing up," said longtime friend Victoria Rangel. "Working together, delivering newspapers. The Saturday afternoon you explained to your dad, in front of your brother and his friends, that there was a man jerking off standing in the front yard of a house on Wenonah Ave. Riding bikes, playing Fat Albert ball and playing softball as the Lollipops. After practice getting picked up in a limo. My list could go on and on.
"The support you gave me while my mother was ill meant so much to me. Although life took us in different directions, you were always there when I came back into town. My prayers go out to you. Love ya girl."
"Thank you, Marge for accepting and welcoming me every time I came to your bar, even when I felt that I was not welcomed from others," said patron and acquaintance Kim Overby. "You and Donna always did your best to make customers feel like family or good friends. I will miss your laugh and the warmth of your acceptance. Be at peace now and hold your love once again. You are missed by many and we will all hold you and Donna in our hearts and memories."
Per Bellisario's request, she will be cremated, and no funeral or memorial service will be held.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that people donate to animal rescue organizations in her memory.
To read more about Hendon, visit www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/PASSAGES-Local-lesbian-businesswoman-Donalou-Hendon-dies/61099.html .