Give In Loving Memory Of

Colleen Ringel

About 18 months ago as Colleen was fighting with the onset of cancer and as we approached the 100th anniversary of the Eastland Disaster, she told us that she felt the voice and spirit of her grandaunt Gabrielle Schlentz were giving her strength and courage. With Colleen's recent passing on September 4, she now joins Ella together in heaven to provide strength and courage to the family.

Our Friend... Colleen

Colleen first contacted us on May 13, 2000. Our friendship blossomed soon thereafter as we exchanged information about her personal family connection to the Eastland Disaster. Our new friendship grew even more as we discovered that the rock group Styx was each of our favorite rock bands. Imagine her surprise when we told her that one of the members of Styx had written an unreleased song about the Eastland Disaster.

Family Genealogist and Historian... Colleen

Colleen was such an awesome advocate for preserving and sharing the history of the Eastland Disaster and the thousands of lives that it affected, including her grandaunt Gabrielle "Ella" Schlentz.

May 2000 Colleen emailed us and began sharing the personal account of her grandaunt Gabrielle "Ella" Schlentz.
July 2000 As part of her Chicago History Fair project, high school student Melissa Bulak performed in period costume as Gabrielle Schlentz, sharing Ella's story with over 300 attendees during the 85th Anniversary Commemoration program at the Museum of Science and Industry.
September 2001 Colleen attended a public presentation given by EDHS.
July 2003 Colleen attended the ceremony and dinner re-dedicating the historical marker along the river and commemorating the 85th anniversary of the tragedy.
July 2005 Colleen attended the ceremony and dinner dedicating the 1st-ever permanent historical photo essay. Located in the lobby of the Reid Murdoch Center, the beautiful piece includes a photo of Ella with her story.
August 2005 The Eastland Disaster is published and appears on bookshelves at major bookstores across the country. The book includes a photo of Ella together with a brief summary of her story.
Spring 2015 Colleen is interviewed by creative agency, 88 Brand Partners, to help define and design the new brand, visual identity (including logo), and messaging for EDHS.
June 2015 Colleen works with EDHS to include Ella's story as 1 of only 9 famiies to be featured on The 844 Commemorative Beer.
July 2015 Colleen participates in the 100th anniversary commemoration of the Eastland Disaster, including the program that is a memorial to her grandaunt Ella and the others who lost their lives in the tragedy.
May 2016 Colleen is 1 of 3 speakers at the EDHS recognition reception for 88 Brand Partners. Held at the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum, Colleen shares Ella's story with the 50 guest VIPs who attended.
July 2016 Colleen has her video-recorded interview featured in the 101st Anniversary coverage by the Daily Herald. (See video at top of article.)
July 2016 Even though she was very fatigued and tired from the toll of her failing health, Colleen attended the 101st anniversary ceremony, boat cruise, and lunch. She placed a single white rose into the river in memory of Ella at the exact location where the Eastland rolled over. By coincidence, the name of the purser welcoming passengers aboard the chartered ship for the river and lake cruise was Gabrielle.
August 2016 Colleen personally booked our presentation twice this year (at the Niles Public Library and also the Morton Grove Public Library). With her health continuing to decline, she still managed to attend the August 6 program at Morton Grove, shared Ella's story for perhaps the last time publicly, and encouraged the attendees to pick up the banner and keep the history of the Eastland Disaster alive and relevant.
Share Ella's story and leave a comment in memory of Colleen Ringel