Susan Stursberg, the co-owner and familiar face behind Gold Star's bar, died of liver and pancreatic cancer Monday morning. She was 45.
Stursberg took on the role of bartender at the popular Wicker Park dive in 1990, when her mother bought the bar.
“She loved working here, loved being here,” said her mother, Mary Anne Reid Stursberg. “Even when she was sick, she said she wished she were working.”
Stursberg was diagnosed earlier this year.
Gold Star’s loyal customers won’t soon forget Stursberg. Gold Star has all the elements of a true neighborhood bar, including a clientele made up of regulars who loved the woman who mixed the drinks.
“She was a delightful, wonderful person,” Reid Stursberg said. “She was a wonderful daughter.”
Stursberg’s illness didn’t just affect her family--customers were also deeply saddened by her battle.
“Customers had benefits. They brought flowers. She was loved by all,” Reid Stursberg said.
In addition to her 20-year tenure as bartender, Stursberg also was a philanthropist and a lover of animals. According to her mother, she held annual benefits including the “Sexy Black Benefit for Black Cats and Dogs.”
She was also happily married. Stursberg met Ian Tuggle when he stepped into the bar as a customer. They became fast friends, then a couple. On March 3, 2004, the 10th anniversary of their first date, they married.
“She loved working here. She was more the shy type but she was a fantastic person,” Tuggle said. “She made everyone feel welcome.”
A notice of Stursberg’s death was posted on Gold Star’s Facebook page earlier Monday, and fans of the bar posted sentimental messages about how Gold Star was the only bar that ever felt like home to them.
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