October 31, 2008 · Legendary oral historian, author and radio personality Studs Terkel has died at his home in Chicago. He was 96.
Terkel had been in ill health for some time, suffering from various ailments; a close friend, Tony Judge, said his condition worsened precipitously Oct. 30, and he died just before 3 p.m. on Oct. 31.
For nearly half a century, Terkel crisscrossed the country interviewing people from all walks of life about war, their jobs and a variety of other subjects. His conversations with the prominent and the uncelebrated became books that chronicled much of the history of the 20th century.
Terkel often said that America suffers from what he described as a sort of national Alzheimer's disease. So he wrote books such as Working, Hard Times and his Pulitzer Prize winner, The Good War — oral histories of labor, the Great Depression and World War II, respectively — to help jog the nation's memory.
Born on May 16, 1912, in New York, Terkel's given name was Louis. But like "Scarface" Al Capone, he moved to Chicago and he picked up a tough-guy nickname — which he borrowed from the lead character in James Farrell's 1930s Studs Lonigan trilogy.
R.I.P. Studs. You Were One Of The Best!