In Memory of



Obituary for Theresa Ebster

Theresa Cropper Ebster

Our family grieves the passing of Theresa Ebster, who died peacefully at the age of 92 on Saturday, December 17 at 3:15 pm. She was a loving, devoted, and selfless mother and grandmother.

She was born to Theresa and Joseph Cropper on April 18, 1930, on the south side of Chicago during the Great Depression. Like thousands of other families, the Croppers experienced extreme hardship during those years, but managed to keep a roof over their large family. Though Joe Cropper was later hired as a Pullman Porter, he was immediately furloughed, and was not called to work for many years. Growing up with five siblings, Theresa would be affected by her start as a child of the Depression, working hard, and living frugally her entire life.

Educated in Chicago public schools, Theresa graduated early from Colman Elementary School and attended DuSable High School, where she was a good student and made friends easily. In fall of 1943 in C.E. Anderson’s Division, Theresa and three other girls—Lois Ellis, Dolores Hatchett, and Dolores Hines--became a popular foursome known to classmates and friends as “The Big Four.” The four graduated together in DuSable’s Class of 1947, developing an indestructible bond of friendship that lasted and mellowed over a lifetime. They went on to college, married, had families and became successful strong black women making individual contributions to the workplace and the community.

Theresa met the love of her life, Joseph (Joe) Ebster, at a high school dance, marrying him in 1951. But she continued her education, first at Wilson Jr. College, and then at Chicago Teachers College, eventually completing a bachelor’s degree in Education while working and raising a family. Both Theresa & Joe valued education as a means to achieve success as well as attain their aspirations.

Hired by the Chicago Board of Education, Theresa began teaching at James Madison Elementary School in 1968. After being in the classroom several years however, her love for teaching and learning motivated her to apply for a master’s program in education at the University of Chicago. Earning that master’s degree was her proudest accomplishment.

Following retirement from Madison School in 1992, Theresa’s interests broadened. In August of 1993, she became a member of one of the largest groups of docent training programs at the Field Museum for the new Africa Exhibit scheduled to open November 13, 1993. With her kindness and willingness to learn and share knowledge, Theresa made a positive impact on museum visitors to the Africa exhibit as well as the friends she developed as a result of being part of the training program.

Together Theresa and Joe led rich, full lives and often socialized with friends. One of their favorite events was the annual New Year’s Eve gala they attended with longtime friends, John & Jerre Horde, and three other couples. They were passionate about international travel, but they also loved road trips within the U.S. and Canada. Taking advantage of many of the amenities the city has to offer, they were season ticket holders at the Goodman Theater; they held memberships and frequently attended exhibits and lectures at the Chicago Art Institute, the Field Museum, and the DuSable Museum of Black History. And they delighted in exploring Chicago’s culinary landscape—from hole-in-the wall eateries to top tier restaurants, and everything in between. In 2001, they marked their 50th wedding anniversary with a celebratory bash at the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas with family and friends.

Theresa is survived by two daughters, Deborah Ebster (James Bremser), of Orlando, FL, and Corinn Ebster (Barron Norwood) of Chicago, IL; one son, Michael Ebster of Chicago, IL; her beloved grandson, Matthew J. Norwood, of Oakland, CA; and her last sibling--her dear sister, Betty Williams, of Chicago. Predeceased by her husband Joe, her parents, and five siblings: Bertram A. Cropper, Edward A. Cropper, Daca Ra, Joseph B. Cropper, Jr., and Donald L. Cropper, she leaves a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and neighbors to cherish her memory.

During her long life, Theresa not only touched many lives, she enriched them. She was an interesting conversationalist, always willing to talk about the latest book she’d read, recount a recent documentary she’d watched, or share an anecdote from her extensive travels. A parent and grandparent who loved unconditionally, a keen listener, a trustworthy confidante and consummate friend, Theresa Cropper Ebster will be treasured and remembered for the time we had with her.


Our family welcomes memorial donations in Theresa’s name to:
The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center
740 E. 56th Place
Chicago, IL 60637
(In memory of Theresa C. Ebster)