Hayley Carlton, longtime Gazette reporter, passes away at 46
October 7, 2016
Hayley Carlton, longtime Gazette reporter, built trust with community leaders and had a compassionate heart.

Hayley Carlton, longtime Gazette reporter, built trust with community leaders and had a compassionate heart.

By William S. Bike

Hayley Carlton, a reporter for the Gazette for more than ten years, passed away at home of a heart attack on Aug. 3 at age 46. Born on Dec. 5, 1969, Ms. Carlton went on to graduate from Lourdes High School, earned a BA in journalism from Columbia College Chicago, and earned an MA in marketing communications from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

A career-long journalist, Ms. Carlton also worked as a screenwriter. For the Gazette, Ms. Carlton covered the West Loop beat. Every December, she also wrote the Spirit of Giving article, a roundup of local charities’ activities. She formerly wrote the Around the Neighborhood column.

“Hayley Carlton was, truthfully, an angel,” said Roger Romanelli, executive director of the Randolph/Fulton Market Association. “Kind, gentle, respectful, honest. Hayley Carlton was also a dedicated journalist. Questions prepared, prompt, present at critical public meetings, realizing the need for the press to help make democracy work. I am blessed to have known her. I will carry her in my heart always.”

“Hayley was wonderful, thoughtful, and very kind,” said Patti Mocco, a board member of Neighbors of West Loop. “She always wanted the scoop but went about getting the information respectfully. She helped put West Loop on the map for us; she brought up all topics that needed to be heard and talked about. She let the residents have a say—the good, the bad, and the ugly!

“She will be greatly missed in the journalism world,” Mocco added. “She liked what she did, and she did it thoughtfully.”

“This is a loss to us in the community,” said Alderman Walter Burnett of the 27th Ward. “Hayley was a go-getter. She tried to find out the truth, was objective and never biased, and wrote so that the reader could make up his or her own mind. She was devoted to getting the news to share with the community.”

“Hayley was a valued member of the Gazette news team,” said editor and publisher Mark J. Valentino. “She had a passion for community journalism and a deep understanding of its important role in shaping, supporting, and sustaining communities.

“Hayley was eager to take on new assignments and would often travel by public transportation from her home on Chicago’s Southwest Side to cover a community meeting in the West Loop, South Loop, Bridgeport, or another of the neighborhoods the Gazette covers,” he added.

“She built trust with community leaders and was both fair in her coverage and always willing to seek additional news sources,” Valentino continued. “In addition to being an excellent reporter, Hayley was one of those individuals who was easy to like. She had a compassionate heart and enjoyed writing our Spirit of Giving section each December to share with our readers the many ways they could make the holidays brighter for those in our communities who needed a helping hand.

“Hayley will be missed by all of us at the Gazette,” Valentino said. “Our newspaper has lost a valued reporter and colleague and more important, our community has lost a person who cared greatly about her fellow Chicagoans.”

Ms. Carlton, an only child, took care of her father, David, for several years.

“She took good care of her father and was a good person,” said her aunt, Nancy Allen. “She went to church every Sunday.”

Ms. Carlton was preceded in death by her mother, Shirley. She is survived by her father, David; uncle and aunt, Ray and Nancy Allen; aunt Cynthia Plescher; and cousin John Plescher. Ms. Carlton’s body was cremated and her remains laid to rest in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Evergreen Park, IL.