Eli’s Loses our greatest fan and beloved friend
All of us at Eli’s Cheesecake are mourning the loss of our most passionate associate and friend—Rita Tierney, age 86. Named to the Chicago Senior Citizen Hall of Fame in 1998 for her leadership at Eli’s in community affairs, Rita put a whole new spin on the term of “second career.”
Rita Tierney had been retired for over 15 years as a Secretary and an Administrator when she came to Eli’s first facility on West Dakin Street in the spring of 1984. At that time she was 68 years old and was simply looking to buy an Eli’s Cheesecake for her family. A sign on the door sought office help and Rita responded by saying that she had some history of doing secretarial work and that she would like to be considered for that position. Rita came to work at Eli’s and has been an invaluable part of the company ever since. Up until her health last year prevented her from working regularly, she worked three days a week as Director of Charitable Giving, a position that is most important to creating the community awareness and good will that Eli’s has become known for.
On the seniority list of Eli’s 230 people, Rita was number five. She has been an integral part of the company as it has grown to become the largest specialty cheesecake bakery in the country. For the first six years of her term at Eli’s, Rita was the sole assistant to Eli’s President, Marc Schulman, which was quite an accomplishment considering Marc is a former attorney with a propensity to correspond in writing. Not only did Rita keep up with Marc on the IBM Selectric typewriter that was popular back in the mid 80’s, but in her 70’s became proficient in using a computer for word processing and data base management.
Although Rita’s work product can never be beat, her greatest accomplishments have come in really being the “heart and soul” of the company. The founder of Eli’s, Eli Schulman, had a 50 year reputation of taking exceptional care of his guests. Eli’s son, Marc, carried over that philosophy to Eli’s Cheesecake and it was Rita who made sure that the nice things happened. Examples of Rita’s creativity, concern and leadership are as follows:
In 1998, when Cardinal George was inducted in Rome, it was Rita who arranged for Eli’s Cheesecake to be served at a reception at the North American College of Cardinals. Originally told it was impossible by another Church official, Rita called Rome at all odd hours until she found the right person. This donation of over 500 slices was highlighted in a recent speech by the Cardinal as “one of the real highlights of his celebration in Rome.”
Rita served as Director of Charitable Giving for Eli’s. In that role, she helped over 500 organizations every year through donations of cheesecake. Rita would talk with the requesting organizations on the phone and then work to satisfy their needs. This commitment has resulted in Eli’s being honored by a number of local organizations and being named as a Partner of the Year by the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
Rita is a member of Eli’s special events team, personally serving cheesecake at many community events. One of her favorite events was representing Eli’s at the Mayor’s St. Patricks’s Day party and at the Queen’s contest for the St. Patrick’s Day Queen.
Rita met the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, and Hillary Clinton when they visited Eli’s bakery in 1992. In recognition of her work, Rita was a member of Eli’s Team that went to Washington in January of 1993 for the first inauguration of the President.
Not only was Rita a part of the “Eli’s family,” she also had a wonderful large family with five children, 16 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. She was an elegant woman who was committed to her faith, family, Eli’s and the City that she loved so much.
Rita – we will miss you dearly