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In Memory of Jim Ardito | by Tom Lanning

27 Feb 2024 3:29 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

James T. Ardito, who blazed a shining trail as the co-founder and first president of Independent Writers of Chicago (IWOC), died on December 29 in Evanston.

Ardito, 78, launched IWOC in 1981 for a creative group of mostly local, print-media independent writers. It would grow and develop over the years into what it is today, still standing tall as other local, professional writers groups have withered away and died in today’s difficult environment.

 As a writer, Ardito presented himself in a well-earned confident manner as one who would generate original copy or advertising that he guaranteed would “sell” the products and services of international corporations, as well as for other more modest endeavors.

Ardito offered to write blogs, brochures, E-marketing, newsletters, social media and web content, specializing in multiple areas of topical expertise —advertising (including radio and TV), food, health, medical, marketing and sales. He could also provide employee communications, brand strategies, videos and industrial training films. A man of many facets, to be sure.

After serving as president and remaining many years as a member, Ardito allowed his membership to lapse. Much time had passed until 2017, when he attended “Life in the Freelance Lane,” an IWOC program presented at Evanston’s library by current president Laura Stigler and board member Jeff Steele.  

Reigniting his passion for the organization he first established, Ardito immediately rejoined IWOC with new gusto and once again, brought his enthusiasm to IWOC’s Board of Directors on which he served from 2018 to 2019.

In his profile, Ardito made sure to describe himself proudly as a professional writer who had served as IWOC’s “Charter” President. “What a joy to see it survive and thrive for decades,” he said.

An obituary posted Jan. 1 at pointed out that Ardito had been born in Hamden, Connecticut, earned his B.A. from Franklin Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and then earned his Master's degree in advertising at Michigan State University.

“If it had anything to do with selling, he could—and did—write it,” the obit noted. “Jimmy told stories, all kinds of stories, scary stories around camp fires for his kids, funny stories for his nationally syndicated column.” 

"Funny" followed Jim everywhere: He loved looking at life through a humorous prism.

Jim resided most recently in Skokie, Ill., and is survived by his wife Merry Juell, two grown children, Sam and Zoe, and a brother and sister.

No details were mentioned regarding a memorial service, except to say that a “celebration of life” would take place at a later date.

-- Tom Lanning

Editor's Note: Here is link to a funny 2019 Stet article Jim Ardito wrote on rejection letters. Note that he also pays homage to his Italian heritage by including a recipe for Lobster Fra Diavolo (the instructions are not for the squeamish). 


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