After a life well lived for 104 years, Miriam U. Hoover passed away at her home in Palm Springs March 6.
Miriam, the aunt of Chicago LGBT activist and philanthropist Michael Leppen, followed her nephew's guidance on her support of HIV/AIDS and LGBT causes for decades.
Miriam was born in Humboldt, Michigan Nov. 1, 1913, the daughter of Justina and Tuomas Ulvinen. She grew up with eight sisters and three brothers on the family farm. She worked as a governess and then married H. Earl Hoover ( 1890-1985 ) who was her best friend and the love of her life. They traveled the world together and enjoyed every moment of their life together.
Miriam always led an active life. She loved opera, symphony, ballet and theater.
She was an active member and supporter of various churches, charities and social service and educational programs. She was a trustee for: Seabury Western Theological Seminary, Episcopal Charities, The Living Desert, Palm Springs Art Museum and Bishop Anderson House. As a philanthropist she supported many agencies not only in the Chicago area, but throughout the country and world.
Miriam was "a great woman with an enormous spirit and generous legacy who gave so much to the LGBTQ community in Chicago," said Amy Maggio. "A very early supporter of HIV/AIDS organizations, her generosity will live on through the lives of all of those who have benefited from her many acts of kindness."
Anne Rossiter said: "Miriam was a woman who lived with her heart wide open, no judgment, just love, in supporting her community from her beloved Episcopal Church community to her hospital, North Shore University Health System, the Center on Halsted and hundreds of other social welfare and arts organizations. She was a giant among the philanthropists in Chicago and beyond."
"I had the opportunity of knowing Mrs. Hoover for over 15 years," said Hadley Rue. "I worked with her, traveled with her, she was like a grandmother to me. Mrs. Hoover was always on the run. She loved being on the move, seeing things and as she would say 'there is no moss growing under my feet.' She loved going to dinner with a grouppreferably a group of six or more. She was the bell of the ball and loved have handsome gentlemen in ties with her. She was part of a bygone era which no longer exists and it was special to be part of it. An experience that can never be replicated. She already is missed and will be forever."
"I am saddened by the passing of Mrs. Miriam Hoover, a pillar of the Chicago community," said Center on Halsted CEO Modesto Valle. "Her leadership, among so many organizations, will continue to inspire myself and so many others for years to come. Mrs. Hoover will also be remembered as an important supporter of Center on Halsted. Her significant personal gift, the largest such individual gift during the campaign to build our facility, helped to ensure the completion of the capital campaign. At Center on Halsted, our Hoover Leppen Theatre is named in her honor and that of her nephew, Michael Leppen. Mrs. Hoover exemplified the importance of civic leadership and philanthropy."
"AIDS Foundation of Chicago is grateful for Mrs. Hoover's longtime supportparticularly in the early days of the HIV epidemic, when the community had few options but to help people die with dignity," said AFC CEO John Peller. "It's a testament to her character, and her love for her nephew, Michael Leppen, that Mrs. Hoover stepped up and made a lasting impact on so many organizations in Chicago."
"I am saddened to hear about the death of Miriam Hoover," said Pride Action Tank Executive Director Kim Hunt. "She and her nephew, Michael Leppen, were supporters of Affinity Community Service's youth work when I was the executive director there. My heart goes out to Michael and the rest of the family and loved ones on the loss of this incredible spirit."
Miriam had a devout faith and was supportive and loving of her family and their extended families. She loved getting together with family and reliving memories of her life with her sisters and brothers. She always enjoyed the family reunion in Michigan with four generations of the family getting together with her. Family was always important to Miriam.
That faith included her support of Bishop Anderson House.
"We are mourning Miriam's death here at Bishop Anderson House," said Executive Director The Rev. Thomas S. Rogers, III. "I got to see Miriam one last time on All Saints Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017 which seems like an appropriate day now upon further reflection. Miriam was one of the saints who supported our work providing professional chaplains to see patients and families in the trauma unit and Project Connect, the inpatient HIV+ unit, at Stroger Cook County Hospital. Her nephew, Michael Leppen, who served on our board of trustees started collecting teddy bears for HIV+ patients in the 1980s when doctors and nurses were afraid to touch patients before people knew how HIV was transmitted. Today, we live into this heritage by providing professional chaplaincy to HIV+ patients and their families.
"We are so grateful to Miriam for her longstanding support of Bishop Anderson House and offer our prayers and condolences to her family and friends at her death. She is a great representative of a life well lived with much joyI will never forget her authentic smile anytime we met."
She is preceded in death by her loving husband, Earl, her parents, her brothers and sisters and their spouses, stepsons Gordon, Jack and Bob and daughter-in-laws, Carol, Nancy and Bea.
Miriam is survived by; Michael A Leppen, her nephew, companion and best friend; her stepson and friend H. Earl Hoover II ( Barbara ); her step-grandchildren Gordon Hoover II, Wendy Chandler, Diana Filkins ( Rick ), Michael Hoover ( Janis ), Tim Hoover ( Debra ), Elizabeth Tapia ( Richard ), Courtney Cummings ( John ), John Hoover and Robert Hoover II ( Candace ). Also by great grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, and great nieces and great nephews.
Miriam will be buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Chicago, next to her husband Earl.
A memorial will be held at St. Paul's in the Desert, Palm Springs March 17 at 11 a.m. After the service, there will be a luncheon reception at Le Vallauris.
There will also be a Memorial Service in Chicago at the Cathedral of St. James on April 28 at 11 a.m. A luncheon reception will be served at the Drake Hotel, Gold Coast Room following the service.