Every ALS diagnosis has a story of its own. For John Drury, one of the first warning signs came with music.
“Welsh men were famous for their singing,” remembers his widow, Ann. “When he had trouble singing, we knew something was wrong.”
Born in 1927, John Drury became one of the most acclaimed reporters in Chicago history. His career as a television news anchor spanned almost 50 years, from being on-staff at CBS 2 for Presid
ent Kennedy’s assassination in 1962 to his nightly newscasts on WGN and ABC 7, which were st
aples for generations of viewers. He won several Chicago Emmys for excellence in reporting and was named to the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame, among many other awards.
After John’s first wife Marjorie passed away, he met Ann through friends, and they married in 1990.
“I met John on a blind date that friends arranged after previous ones had been disastrous,” laughs Ann. “John was exactly what you saw on TV. He was charming, happy, and had many childish delights about him. He loved my children and grandchildren, and we were all very enamored of him.”
In 2003, the year after he retired, John was diagnosed with ALS. Famous for his hard work as a reporter and his many volunteer commitments, as well as the brisk walks he enjoyed across the Illinois Prairie Path in the western suburbs, his energy had begun to flag. That eventually led to his ALS diagnosis, which came as a shock to both of them. Ann had no experience with ALS or caregiving.
“Initially, I tried to do everything, but he was 6’4” 230 lbs., and it became impossible to be certain that I could support him and keep my own balance,” she says. “We needed professionals that had experience with this and the ability to support John.”
That led the family to the Les Turner ALS Foundation, which provided support throughout John’s battle with ALS.
“They gave me unlimited support in areas that were unmentionable,” says Ann. “They were able to help me so much in ways that I couldn’t and they took such good care of John.”
John threw himself into fundraising for ALS research until he passed away in 2007. In his memory, the Drurys have been generous and steadfast supporters of the Les Turner ALS Foundation. In fact, giving literally runs in the family – their grandson Dominick ran the Chicago Marathon with Team Race for ALS last fall.
“We are so grateful to the Drurys for their loyal support of the Foundation and for being a Sustainer for Hope,” says Steve Schapiro, MS, Chief Philanthropy Officer.
“I want to give back so others can have the same experience during their fight,” says Ann. “Without the assistance and guidance that we had from the people at Les Turner, we wouldn’t have been able to give the same care and comfort that John had. We were so unaware of what to do and how to handle the situations that arose. The support we were given was priceless and appreciated beyond words.”